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Quality Over Quantity: ROI vs Hourly Rate - LOL Donkaments

By Matthew "Yorkshire Pudding' Pitt

As a tournament poker player you have two ways that you can measure your results and success in. You can either look at your Return On Investment (ROI) or your hourly earn rate ($/hr). Both are perfectly acceptable yardsticks – in fact a lot of players use a mixture of the two – but aiming to increase one will almost always see the other fall.

All too often I read posts on forums where a member is questioning how Player X can be rated so highly for say 180-man turbos when his ROI is only 10% and the person creating the dumb post has a 35% ROI. The person with the 35% ROI seems to think that because they earn more per tournament than the grinder in question, they must be a better player than them. Wrong! What the 35% dumbass fails to realise is our 15% ROI grinder almost certainly has a ridiculous hourly rate compare to the seemingly better player.

Let’s make an overly simple example and see who you would rather be. The 35% ROI player is now known by the ultra-imaginative title of Player A, while the 10% ROI player is going to be called, wait for it, Bob. Why not?

Both players play tournaments that cost exactly $10 to enter. Player A has, as we keep being told, a 35% ROI. This means that, on average, Player A wins $3.50 every time he plays a tournament. But what Player A fails to tell you is that he can only play four tables at once. With a little imagination, we estimate that Player A manages to play an average of six tournaments per hour, which the mathematicians among you will have calculated that Player A earns around $21 per hour ($3.50 per tournament multiplied by six tournament per hour.)

Now, Bob has a much lower 15% ROI in the exact same $10 tournaments, meaning he earns $1.50 each time he completes a game. However, Bob is a mass multi-tabling grinder who has mastered the art of playing 20 tables at once. This means Bob gets through around 30 tournaments per hour, taking his hourly rate up to a most impressive $45 despite the fact Player A has an ROI that is more than twice as good. Throw into the mix the various loyalty benefits that Bob almost certainly receives and he’s probably earning something around $50-60 an hour. Not bad for someone who sucks according to our 35% ROI hero.

Of course, playing so many tables does have its disadvantages and not many players can play more than four tables simultaneously. Some of the downsides to mass multi-tabling include larger swings in your bankroll (due to having a lower ROI) and the game feeling not an actual grind rather than you playing poker, putting you at a higher risk of burning out and quitting the game!

Ideally, you want to find a happy medium, a balance, a Ying to your Yang, one that sees you maximising your earnings. Experiment with the number of tables that you play and try to find a sweet spot where your ROI and hourly rate meet in the middle. Once you have done that, well, you’re laughing all the way to the bank really.

So the next time you are scouring the internet looking for a player’s ROI and discover that it is quite low, be careful not to judge because they could be earning three times or more than you ever could!


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