You have probably heard players boasting or moaning about their BB/100 in the game they play, but what are they talking about? In this article we are going to learn how to track your edge in the game you frequent, using this very popular metric.
What is BB/100
To put it simply, BB/100 is a measure of win-rate in a cash game (Zoom or regular tables) and might be positive or negative. This stat is available on all major tracking software and measures how many big blinds you win or lose for every 100 hands that you play. Aspiring players track their BB/100 in order to understand how big a margin they are beating their current stake by and whether or not it is sensible to take a shot at the next level up. Another use of this stat could be to research who the stronger regs are in your pool so that you can avoid tables containing them. As poker is such a high variance game, where it is impossible to judge your ability from short-term results alone, BB/100 provides a little order amongst the chaos, giving a glimpse of your true skill level relative to the stakes you play. But beware, we need a large sample of hands before we take this stat too seriously.
Understanding BB/100 Values
-5BB/100 or worse: You still have a lot of work to do to become break even in this game. Before you focus on winning, the first target to aim at is becoming a breakeven player. Try to see this phase of your poker career as the learning phase; not the profit phase. Make sure that you do not move up in stakes or you will make your learning more expensive, not to mention more painful. Becoming a bit less of a loser is a pretty disheartening thing to aim for in every day life, but at this point in your poker journey, this is exactly what you should be aiming to do. Long-term improvement of BB/100 takes time, so hang in there and do not worry about results. Instead, focus on your decision making, develop a study routine, and frequently try to analyse your play; discussing hands with stronger players wherever possible. If you can move down in stakes temporarily while you improve your game, this is recommended.
-5BB/100 to -2BB/100: You are a small to moderate loser. You are doing some things right and, in fact, if you are probably considerably better than the average player in your pool. The reason you are losing is that you are not so much better that you can win after rake (the fee you pay to the house to play the game.) Keep slogging away and make your next goal to become break even or achieve a small win-rate. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but do not think about moving up in stakes yet.
-2BB/100 to 2BB/100: This is the range of the roughly break-even player. Your variance will be high and your results neither great nor terrible over a big sample. Some months will be a lot better or worse than others and there is substantial work still to be done on your game. The good news is that you have developed enough skill to be far better than the average player in your games. The next step is to take your game to the next level by identifying your biggest leaks and finding more ways to exploit your competition in common spots.
2BB/100 to 4BB/100: You are a solid winner and should consider consolidating this win-rate more while integrating some shots at the next stake up, provided that your mental game and bankroll are ready for it.
4BB/100 to 7BB/100: This is the win-rate of a player who destroys the competition. Definitely move up as soon as practical requirements allow. Good job in getting to this point! Your edge pre-rake is enormous, and this carries over to give you a healthy profit even after you have paid your poker tax, so to speak.
7BB/100 to 10BB/100: You are an absolute crusher. You annihilate the pool in just about every situation imaginable. What are you still doing playing these games? Move up immediately and start propelling yourself through the stakes. You are so good that you can probably beat the next two stakes up as well, provided that you can keep tilt at bay.
10BB/100 Or Better: A poker god relative to your stakes online. Such a win-rate is mainly only seen in live games which can be absurdly soft. It is not uncommon for me to take a live 2/5 player who is breaking even and get him beating the games by 20BB/100 or more. Online, where it is rare to be on a table with eight massive losers, such win-rates are reserved for the poker immortal.
You might be sitting here thinking: “But I win at 35BB/100 at 5NL” No, trust me, you do not. It is very possible to run win-rates way outside of the ranges described above over smaller samples. The reason that I am constantly urging students to ignore their BB/100 is that they are obsessing over it over tiny samples. So how accurate is BB/100 over various hand samples? The following guide should clear it up. We have assumed the player in question has a true win-rate of 3BB/100 in his games. Here is how much his observed BB/100 is likely to fluctuate in the short-term.
- 5000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 11BB/100 away from its true value over infinity hands.
- 10000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 8BB/100 away from its true value.
- 25000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 5BB/100 away from its true value.
- 50000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 3.5BB/100 away from its true value.
- 100,000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 2.5BB/100 away from its true value.
- 300,000 Hands: Your observed win-rate will commonly be up to 1.5BB/100 away from its true value
There we have it! BB/100 is a long-term measuring device. Over the smaller samples that part-time poker players rack up over a month or two, the stat may mean almost nothing.
- BB/100 is a great way to measure your likely skill level in the game over large samples and determine whether or not you should take a shot at the next stake.
- BB/100 is often abused over smaller samples and can mean very little.
- Having a negative BB/100 is not a sign that you are weaker than the average player in your game, but just that you are not good enough to retain a profit after paying rake.
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