If you've heard people talking about their online poker win rate you may have heard them say how many bb/100 they're winning or losing. This isn't just meaningless poker jargon like a lot of other phrases used to discuss poker, it's a way of being able to compare win rates across stake levels and we're going to break it down for you today.
Rates and averages are helpful in poker as they give you an idea of what is really happening and whether your strategy works over time based on how many hands you are playing per hour, day, or year even.
What Is bb/100
Regular players talk about their win rates in this way as the amount of money you make will depend on the number of hands you play, whereas this method allows comparison between two players no matter how much volume they put in.
- a player is playing $1/$2 and has a win rate of 3bb/100
- this means the player can expect to win $6 for every 100 hands they play.
If that player plays 100,000 hands over the course of a month, they can expect to make $6,000 if they are able to keep the same win rate.
Calculating The bb/100 Rate
This number can be reverse engineered if a player doesn't know what their win rate is. First of all, you need to convert the dollar amount won to big blinds. Then you need to divide the number of hands you've played by a number so you arrive at 100, then divide the number of big blinds you've won by the same number.
Say Player A wins $2,000 in a month playing $0.50/$1 in 20,000 hands. We first need to convert the $2,000 won into big blinds. Since the big blind, in this case, is $1 then it's fairly simple: they won 2,000 big blinds. Now we need to divide 20,000 hands by a number so we get to 100, which is 200 as
20,000/200 = 100. Finally, we need to divide the number of big blinds won by the same number, which makes
2000/200 = 10.
We can see that Player A is winning at 10bb/100 hands, quite the win rate!
There are things that can impact this number. Variance is one of them, if a player runs bad, they'll be making less than their projected income, but if they run well, they can make more.
Another factor that can impact your win rate is volume. In an attempt to get more hands in and win more money, it may be tempting to play more and more tables. However, playing more tables can decrease focus and concentration, which leads to worse decisions, which leads to a lower win rate.
Difference Between bb/100 and BB/100
Even though they look very similar, there is a difference between bb/100 and BB/100. As we've covered, bb/100 refers to the number of big blinds a player wins for every 100 hands they play. However, BB/100 refers to the number of big bets a player wins for every 100 hands they play.
The difference being, 'big bets' are double the amount of the big blind. In limit games, the bets on the first couple of streets are limited to the size of the big blind, and on the later streets that limit is doubled and referred to as a 'big bet'.
If you only play no-limit or pot-limit games such as Texas Hold'em or Omaha then there is no real need to look at BB/100 and you can focus on your bb/100 win rate.
Poker Win Rate Ranking
There are various win rates you can achieve depending on your skill level as well as the stake level you play. The lower stakes you play, the easier it is to achieve higher win rates. At the lowest stakes such as NL2, the best players can win as many as 10bb/100.
👍 Look at our article studying how much poker players can earn online!
As you move up the stakes you will encounter better players and more of them which will impact your ability to achieve those higher win rates. It becomes more about how you're able to play against the regulars when you get to the higher stakes as there are fewer and fewer recreational players that you can exploit. When you play low/micro stakes there are enough recreational players to take advantage of that you can get by on this alone.
One thing that will impact your win rate is the rake you have to pay. Rake is taken from the pot every time a flop is seen, so when you win a pot you're never winning the full amount that's been bet. Depending on where you play and the stakes you play at this can be the equivalent of 10bb/100 down to 0.5bb/100 in win rate being taken as rake. Finding the places that have lower rake can give you an increase in your win rate.
Let's break down the win rates you can expect to see at the poker table:
This is the win rate of your average recreational player. They make frequent and pronounced mistakes and they are losing heavily even after the rake has been taken into account. These players are net depositors to the poker sites and make up the bottom 10-15% of players.
-4 to -1bb/100
Players who achieve these win rates are your average bad regulars. These players often play in the games but haven't got the skill level to beat the game they're currently playing. The errors they make aren't as egregious as the ones that recreational players are making but they're still costing them money. Around 50-60% of regular players will fall in this category.
Due to the cost of rake, being a breakeven player means that they're beating the poker game but are unable to beat the rake. Even though this player isn't making money from the game, they'll be making some money from rakeback and other offers the site gives them. These players make up around 20% of the reg population.
1 to 2bb/100
This is where we start to get into the properly winning players - beating both the poker game and the rake. These players are on the right path to becoming crushers at the stakes they're playing but are making too many inaccuracies to be anything other than slightly winning players.
3 to 5bb/100
Players who achieve these win rates are very solid regulars in the games they're playing, they don't make many mistakes at all and are fundamentally sound. These players are close to becoming crushing players in their game but need to fix one or two leaks before they're able to make that jump.
6 to 10bb/100
These players are the crushers. They have a clear advantage over almost anyone playing their game and they make it count every time. Not only do they have a solid fundamental understanding of the game but they're able to exploit the mistakes that other players are making. Only around 5% of regs are able to achieve this win rate at any given time.
More than 10bb/100
This is the best of the best, the crème de la crème. Anyone who can achieve this win rate over a significant sample is a truly elite player at their stake level. They are head and shoulders above the rest of the field and maximally exploit their opponents at every opportunity. There are likely only or two players at each stake level capable of achieving this win rate - if there are any at all.
Limitations Of bb/100 Data
Even though bb/100 data is what everyone uses to discuss win rates, there are limitations to it. As it only takes the amount of money you've won and the number of hands you've played to get your win rate number, it in no way takes into account the variance or 'luck' in poker.
To eliminate a portion of the luck factor that can influence results in the short term, some players will instead look at their EVbb/100. This looks at your win rate if at every point you were all in the pot was awarded based on the amount of equity each player has. For example, if Player A gets it all in withagainst Player B's for a $100 pot, it will award Player A $81.26 and Player B $18.74 of EV$.
The EVbb/100 will perform this calculation for every hand you're all in and come up with an 'EV$ won' number which takes all your wins/losses from hands that aren't all in, then they add the $EV from every hand where you were all in before the river. This creates a 'luck adjusted' winnings amount which can be divided by the number of hands you've played to get your EVbb/100 win rate.
Even with this number, there are limitations as the only variance this is measuring is all-in EV (or how often you're outperforming or underperforming your equity when you're all in). This doesn't take into account hands where you win or lose with a lucky card before you're all in, it doesn't take into account how often you've been dealt coolers such as KK into AA or mundane things like how often your c-bets get called as your opponent has the top of their range.
There is no way to remove every single luck element to find out what a player's absolute win rate is, but EVbb/100 brings us a little closer to that number than bb/100.
Knowing whether or not you're a winning player and what your bb/100 win rate is will allow you to make well-informed decisions about when to move up in stakes - as well as brag to your mates how much better you are than them!