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What do you consider success in poker? The trophies you have won? The big pots that slid your way? You should be looking at Return On Investment, or ROI for short, particularly if you are a tournament player. Your ROI instantly shows if you are profitable in a game or not and how much money you are expected to win from each tournament you enter.
What in ROI?
ROI is an acronym for Return On Investment. Poker tournament players use ROI to determine if they are a winner in the games they play. ROI is also used in business, with companies using the figure to show if, for example, an advertising campaign or promotion was successful. Stock traders and investors also quote their ROI regarding investments they make. It is a useful figure and one that is easy to calculate.
If your ROI is above zero, you are profitable. If your ROI is negative, you are losing money.
How do you calculate your ROI in poker?
Calculating your ROI in poker is a relatively simple task, although you may need a calculator or spreadsheet hand. Work out your net profit by subtracting the total tournament buy-in from your winnings, then divide that number by the tournament buy-in. Finally, multiply the answer by 100 to display your ROI.
For example, you win $75 from an $11 tournament at PartyPoker. Your ROI for that particular tournament would be 581.82%: (75-11)/11 then multiplied by 100.
Most poker players use ROI over a certain number of tournaments, but the calculation is the same. Say you play 100 tournaments with an $11 buy-in, and enjoy total winnings of $1,650. All those entries cost you $1,100, so work out your net profit, which is $1,650 minus the $1,100, or $550. Divide your $550 net profit by the $1,100 total buy-ins, then divide by your $1,100 worth of buy-ins. Multiply your answer by 100, and you arrive at 50% ROI.
It takes thousands of poker tournaments to calculate your true ROI because of the mathematical variance associated with the game. You may enjoy a heater where you can seemingly do nothing wrong and have a 79% ROI over 200-400 tournaments but your true ROI will likely be closer to 20% in the long run. Conversely, your ROI may be negative for 300-1,000 tournaments, yet you are a winning player long-term.
What is a better measure of results: ROI or hourly rate?
Some people, usually professional poker players or those preferring cash games, use their hourly rate instead of ROI. The calculation is simple: take your total net profit and divide it by the total time played. If you made $200 profit in 10 hours, you earned $20 per hour.
Both hourly rate and ROI have their place in the poker world, though you are usually better with ROI for tournament play.
How do you improve your ROI?
Nothing you do guarantees you will improve your ROI, but there are steps you can take that increase the chances of your ROI increasing. Improving your overall poker skills is the number one way to an improved ROI. Better players make fewer mistakes, extract more money from their opponents, and go deeper in tournaments more regularly. All those things ultimately result in your ROI heading in the desired direction.
Start Low and Improve the Basics
Start playing low-stakes games because this, as a general rule, is where the less experienced players are found. Recreational and amateur players make more errors, and you can capitalise on them, thus winning more. As you improve your poker knowledge, start to play more speculative hands and increase your aggression. For example, raising draws as a semi-bluff can sometimes force your opponent to fold, meaning you win the pot without having to complete your draw.
You can make improvements to your poker game, and ultimately your ROI, by keeping your opponents on the back foot and guessing your possible holdings. Raising a uniform size regardless of your hand strength, or betting the same amount with your weak and strong hands significantly disguises your hand strength. Also, never reveal your hole cards unless you are forced to at showdown because savvy players will use the information against you.
Start Making Player-Specific Plays
Although we stated betting the same amount regardless of your hand strength is a good way to disguise your hand, learning to alter your bet sizes against specific players is crucial to your success. If you usually bet half-pot when you flop a set but know that your opponent will almost always call a full-pot-sized bet, you should bet the larger amount to increase your hand’s value. Likewise, if you are on the river and think your opponent will fold to a bet of three-quarters of the pot but will call for a one-third pot-sized bet, opt for the latter.
Mixing your game up based on your opponent is what the very best players do all the time.
Understand Position and Ranges
Your position in relation to the button/dealer is everything in Texas Hold’em and Omaha games. Acting later in the hand, like when in the cutoff or on the button, allows you to play looser and make more plays than in early position because you gain so much information by seeing how the rest of the table acts.
You should play tight from early position, and loosen up as you reach middle position, further still in the hijack and cutoff, and be like a player possessed from the button. Bear in mind that most opponents will follow these rules, too, so give more credit to an early position raise than from one made from the button.
Understanding that players do not tend to make raises with an exact hand but rather a range of hands is something you need to get into the habit of thinking about. You can then decide what action to take based on how your hand plays against that particular range. Taking notes on your opponents, such as if they are loose or tight and the hands they showdown can help you put them on a more accurate range of hands, which, in turn, allows you to make adjustments to your game that can be used to win more chips or money.
To conclude, the best way to improve your ROI is to improve your skills and play against lesser-skilled opponents. Your ROI will naturally be higher in a $5.50 tournament than in a $109 tournament because of the other players’ skill levels. Find a stake you are profitable on, play solid poker, and you may just add a few digits to your ROI.
Poker ROI – Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Q: What is a good poker ROI?
A: Any ROI above 0% is considered good because it means you are a profitable poker player.
Q: What does ROI mean in poker?
A: ROI is an acronym for Return On Investment, and is displayed as a percentage. It shows how much profit you make for every $100 you invest in poker. For example, a 5% ROI would see you win $5 for every $100 you invest. A 20% ROI would equate to $20 profit.
Q: What is a good ROI for online poker tournaments?
A: A number about zero is a good ROI for online poker tournaments because it shows you make a profit from the games you play. Your ROI will vary greatly depending on the stakes, format, table size, and variant you play. As a sweeping statement, 20%+ is considered a solid ROI for online MTTs.
Q: How is ROI calculated in poker?
A: Calculating your ROI in poker is simple. Take your net profit (winnings minus the buy-in), divide it by the buy-in, and multiply the answer by 100 to get your ROI percentage.
Q: How do you increase your win rate in poker?
A: Your first step to increasing your win rate in poker is to improve your skills. You will naturally win more when you are a more skilful player. Other steps to take include playing against weaker opposition, and playing fewer tables simultaneously.
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