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Rethinking Winning Poker: The Best Graph in Small Stakes Poker

Posted by QTip

The Beast is something like a progressive rake race on the Winning Network. Part of the bbj goes towards creating a prize pool that's distributed among the top rakers on the network.

In mid September this year I was busy working on a fourth book and picking away at the 5/10, 10/20, and 15/30 games that occasionally form on the Winning Network. I had no desire to participate in the Beast. However, I was contacted by the network to see if I would participate in the webcam idea they were trying at After some prodding, I reluctantly agreed to participate in October. My personality is such that I knew I'd lose a large chunk of my life to grinding that month...can't be getting second place.

The last time I put in serious volume was 2008. I spent most of 2008 playing 32 tables; 24 at PokerStars and another 8 at FullTilt. But I was rusty now and didn't have a good setup to play at the Winning Network. I spent the rest of September creating a good mass-multitabling setup for Americas Cardroom. At midnight on Oct. 1st, I had 35 tables running into the month. I had forgotten how addicting the pace is. Running 2K+ hands an hour is a constant influx of information, and it's a tremendous high for me.

During the first couple of days in October I lost about $5,000. I knew I'd been running rather poorly, but I also knew I hadn't been playing very well. It was taking a while to get back in the groove. I managed to lose very little more after those first couple days, and after rakeback I was breakeven at the tables for the month. The Beast prize was $12,500, so that was all profit for the month. Second place didn't apply a lot of pressure, so I only had to play about 140 hours in the month; which added up to about 250k hands.

November had virtually identical results and December is heading in a similar direction. So what does the best graph in small stakes poker today look like? It looks like this.



My results in PokerTracker are red numbers, and this is a first for me. It feels weird.

I've never lost over large samples. I pulled my database apart looking for answers. There's always something that seems to be going terribly wrong. At one point in the month I was down 50 buyins in all-in EV by getting allin preflop with AA and QQ. At another point I had actually lost money by flopping sets, and that was over 58 sets flopped. However, after a while, I just realized I'm going to lose money at these tables. I'm always playing between 35 and 45 tables. It's a lot. It leaves an average of about 1.5 seconds a hand. Playing at that pace leaves very little time for thinking, so you have to have a solid grasp on concepts and when to apply them.

Also, at that pace you're bound to have misclicks. I have a handful every 500 hands or so: folding AA preflop, shipping what looks like a flush draw, minbetting a huge hand on the river, etc. As well, my hands are pretty tied when it comes to getting creative with bet sizing. Much of the time I only have time to hit a 3/4 pot button instead of typing in an amount I really want. And sometimes I come out of comatose mode - you know that feeling when you're suddenly in your driveway and you have no recollection of how you drove home? Then it's time to hit refresh on PokerTracker and find out what the heck just happened while I was gone. Up $200?! Get back in that coma!

I do think I could crank out some green numbers if I were playing 25 or fewer tables but I doubt the winrate would be huge. Here's why. Below is a breakdown of my hands from Oct. 1st to Nov. 10th.


I'm losing at about 3 bb/100. Does that mean you want me at your tables? Am I a donator? No and no. I'm actually pulling almost 7 bb/100 from my opponents at 25nl. However, it's not enough to overcome the 9bb/100 rake and bbj. I'm pulling almost 2bb/100 from my opponents at 50NL. But that's not enough to overcome the 6 bb/100 rake and bbj. And I'm pulling about 1 bb/100 from the 100NL opponents, but that's not enough to overcome the 4 bb/100 rake and bbj.

I'm beating my opponents, but I'm losing money. I'm not beating them enough to overcome the money the site it taking.

I was a bit bummed about my red numbers for a while, and I'm always trying to improve. However, I've come to a realization. First, I'm winning over $12,000 a month. I don't know any small stakes player doing that in the poker scene today. Second, I've looked at my opponents in my database. On many opponents I have 30K to 150K hands in my database. I've not found any of them with a "winrate" better than mine. Most of them are losing between 4 and 6 bb/100. Perhaps this is just the sample I have on them, but even so, I'm playing more than twice the number of tables these players have going and I'm outperforming them. This has soothed my competitive nature ;)

So all in all, I'm pretty proud of these red numbers. I've looked at my average blind size, and calculated my winrate when including the elite program as well as the beast prize. It's 8.8 bb/100. So I'm putting in about 250K hands a month at 8.8 bb/100. I'll take it. I don't know of any other player with those results today.

I've had to rethink what winning poker is. Traditionally I would have looked at my results and thought I was a losing player. However, winning poker is taking in the whole picture. Coming out ahead inside the framework in which you're playing.

What does this mean for other players involved in the beast? Is all hope lost? Hope for getting first probably is...although I'll likely take a month or two soon to finish up my fourth poker book - and then you can have at it ;) But until then, make sure you're playing a manageable number of tables that allows you to focus. That way you may be able to put together some green numbers as well as get a piece of the beast prize pool. Then you can add those pieces together to have a shiny winrate.

Enjoy your games!

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House of Cards Radio Interview

Posted by BlackRain79

Here is the interview that I recently did with House of Cards radio based out of Boston, U.S.A. I thought it turned out great! Big thanks to Ashley Adams for having me on.