STRATEGY

Poker Volume, Quality & Goals – Understand their Importance

Regardless of whether poker is a hobby or a career, monetary incentive is part of every player’s motivation to play. When choosing to take poker more seriously, maximising money won per hour often overlooked. Evaluating poker volume vs “quality and goals”, that is “quantity vs quality” is extremely important. Within this article, I will explain the most common ways to increase money won, as well as the best tactics to motivate yourselves at the tables!

Poker Volume

When referring to volume in poker, it means the number of hands you play. Recreational players play fewer hours than professional players. Hence their volume is lower. Furthermore, if we consider online play where multi-tabling is feasible, this might also account for further differences in volume. When looking to maximise your hourly, volume should be an active consideration since this will reflect the number of hands you play per hour, day and month.

Volume vs. Quality: Which is right for you?

Since volume relates to the number of hands played, it follows that as volume increases, the quality of play decreases. If you are playing 400 hands per hour as opposed to 200 hands per hour, you are making twice as many decisions in the same time frame. From an economic standpoint, increasing volume leads to a marginal decrease in win rate. However, it can lead to an increase in overall profitability at the tables. Consider the following example:

Player A:

200 hands per hour at 100NL, winning at 5bb/100

$ won per hour = $1x5x2 = $10

Player B:

400 hands per hour at 100NL, winning at 3bb/100

$ won per hour = $1x3x4 = $12

Although player B could be considered a ‘worse’ player, since he has a smaller win rate, player B makes more money per hour. When contemplating volume over quality, a player should carefully consider what their overall goal is.

Volume Online: Rakeback

There is a category of online poker players known as ‘rakeback grinders.’ Rakeback is the rewards that a poker site gives for playing on their tables and is calculated by the amount of money raked. These players play a significant amount of volume since their main aim is raking as much money as possible. They care far less about maintaining their ‘A’ game or having a positive win rate. There are some sites where it is possible to get rakeback as high as 70%! For every $1 you rake for the site; they will give you $0.70 in rewards. Since it is often the case that players rake sites more than they profit per hand (especially in micro/small stakes games), it is evident the monetary benefit of playing to win rakeback.

Volume Online: Win Rate

Conversely, there is a second category of player. This player type aims to achieve the highest win rate possible. They are winning from other players at the table as much as they can. This player will often study hard off the table to learn how to be better than their opponents. Generally speaking, they will play less volume as they are trying to maintain their ‘A’ game and play the best they can. Players like this will often move up in stakes faster since their skill ‘edge’ on the field is higher. Additionally, players who attempt to optimise win rate have a smaller cap on potential winnings. Rakeback grinders are capped at how much they can win since they are only ever rewarded with a maximum % per $ raked. Players who optimise win rate, however, will have a lower ceiling on their potential profits since they will also receive some % of rakeback, but more significantly there is no cap on how much they can win at the tables theoretically.

Poker Goals

Ultimately, the main aim when playing poker should be to make the most money possible in a given timeframe. Whether you feel this is win rate optimisation or crushing volume, it is irrelevant because that will differ from player to player. Having goals in poker can help to maximise profitability regardless of your overall player type. Motivation can often be essential to achieve the best results you can. Unfortunately, it is very easy to have bad goals when it comes to poker.

It may seem contradictory, but using money made as a goal in poker is often a common mistake of players. As variance plays such an important role in the game, how much money we profit at the tables does not necessarily indicate how well we are playing. Reaching the long run and realising our true win rate, takes hundreds of thousands of hands. Thus, one viable goal can be the number of hands we play since this is not exposed to any variance.

Additionally, other goals can include:

  • Preventing tilt during a session
  • Not using a mobile phone or becoming distracted by social media during a session
  • Not chasing losses during a session and quitting regardless of financial position
  • Drinking plenty of water during a session and eating healthily
  • Exercising well between sessions

All these goals above can aid you in maximising profit since both exogenous and endogenous variables will influence profitability at the tables.

Poker Volume vs Quality & Goals Conclusion

Regardless of your overall player type, the primary goal of your time spent playing poker should be to maximise profit. Many goals can act as motivation and improve your profitability that should not be overlooked. Having read this article, you should now have some fresh ideas that you can implement in both your on and off table strategy.  Often it is not what you do in playing that makes you a great player; it is the preparation before and after that seals your name among the greats. Good luck at the tables!


Patrick Sekinger is from the UK and is an avid poker enthusiast, currently playing both live and online as a professional poker player. Patrick plays all formats of NLHE, however specialises in 100bb cash games and you will find him regularly playing in the small stakes games on Pokerstars.


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