One of the big advantages of online poker compared to live poker is the sheer volume of hands per hour you can play. Not only is the pace of play much quicker but you can play multiple tables, exponentially increasing the number of hands per hour in online poker you can play
Average Hands Played Per Hour in Online Poker
Depending on the type of game you play online, the amount of hands you can play in an hour will be very different.
Sit & Go's
Depending on how many players are at each table (2, 6, or 9) you can expect to play around 50 hands an hour one tabling 9 handed SNGs, going up as high as 100 for heads-up Sit & Go's. Indeed, Sit & Go's are one of the lowest hand-per-hour games as there is a lot of closing and re-opening tables and waiting for games to start.
You can expect to play around 60 hands an hour when playing 9 handed MTTs and around 80 hands an hour for 6max MTTs.
There is much less closing and re-opening of tables in MTTs compared to SNGs, due to the longer structure of tournaments, which leads to more time spent at the tables playing hands. However, most MTTs are 9 handed which slows down the pace of play.
The number of hands played is going to vary depending on the number of players at your table but you can expect to play around 75 hands per hour at a 9-max tables, and 90 hands at 6-max tables.
Cash games tend to play a lot quicker than tournaments, and given that you can sit at one cash table indefinitely, there's no time wasted closing tables and finding new ones to join.
All of this is based on playing one table. When playing online, you can play multiple tables at the same time! If you do play multiple tables, simply multiply the number of tables by the average hand count of your chosen game type to get your average hands played per hour.
Hands Played Per Hour in Fast-Fold Poker
Fast-Fold Poker (e.g., PokerStars Zoom) hands are played at a much greater speed than any other format. This is because when you fold, rather than having to wait for the rest of the players to finish the hand, you are instantly taken to a brand new table and dealt another hand.
This means you can play 60 hands in 60 seconds if you sit there mashing the fold button. This is a big jump up from 60 hands in an hour you'd get playing 9-max MTTs!
If you're actually playing your hands properly rather than clicking fold every time you're dealt one, you can expect to play on average 250 hands an hour with fast-fold poker (and that's just on one table).
You can play multiple tables of zoom poker at a time, meaning you can potentially play over 1,000 hands of poker an hour! Comparing that to the 25-30 hands you get on average playing live poker it's easy to see why people prefer playing online.
How Professional Poker Player Uses "Hands Per Hour" Data
So now you can figure out the estimated hands per hour you can play - what can you do with that information? Well, as we talk about in our article on how much money you can make playing online poker, the way serious players talk about their win rates is in big blinds per 100 hands - e.g. "after 30,000 hands I was winning at 3bb/100". If we know how many hands we play per hour, we can figure out our expectedly hourly win rate based on our bb/100 win rate and our average hand rate.
Let's look at the player in the last example, they're winning at 3b/100 playing 50c/$1 over the last 30,000 hands - not a bad win-rate over a decent sample. They play 2 tables of PokerStars Zoom so they play on average 500 hands an hour. They can calculate that they win on average $3 per 100 hands, multiplied by 5 as they play 500 hands an hour means that they can expect to make, on average, $15 per hour.
If you're considering playing professionally, or even just wanting to estimate how long you'll need to play before moving up in stakes, being able to calculate your hands per hour and therefore your hourly rate will be essential in determining what you can expect. However, it's important to remember that it is an average, it doesn't mean you'll hit exactly that win-rate or hand rate every single hour you play!
Just looking at the numbers it's clear you can play far more hands per hour in online poker compared to live poker - around 10x depending on the game type! If you want to get in some volume, online poker is the place to play.
This article was published on April 15, 2021, and last updated on June 23, 2021.