Poker and ROI

Return Of Investment graph

Poker has become a career for so many players in the past 15 years that pros have to consider so much other than where to find a game.

Bankroll management, handling tilt, and achieving bonuses are all factors to think about, but one essential stat for today's online pro is ROI.

What Does ROI Stand For?

ROI stands for 'Return on Investment' and in its most basic form is the average profit earned on the money invested by the player at the table.

A good ROI percentage figure can vary depending on many things, from your choice of game to how good you are at multi-tabling to simply, your outlook on the game.

However, whatever your level, ROI is all about being POSITIVE.

ROI In Action

If you have a negative ROI, you're a losing player and it's time to start fixing those leaks.

But even if you're a profitable player, having a small ROI might not be good enough. It's all about personal targets and what you need to earn to make poker a worthwhile pastime.

Let's take a quick look at how ROI can be calculated:
You're an online SNG player who has been sticking with $22 Sit n' Gos at one of the larger sites.
In a week you manage to get through 100 games, so your total investment is $2,200 (100 x $22).
You calculate that your total earnings (including buy-ins) are $6,000.
So, your total investment in games = $2,200
Your gross wins are $3,800 (earnings of $6,000 - buy-ins of $2,200).
Your average win is $3,800 / 100 = $38.
Therefore, your ROI is your average win divided by the buy-in: $38 / $22 = 1.72 (172%)

What's a Good ROI For Players?
ROI - good ROI for Players

Obviously, the above example is of a very good player, as his ROI comes out a whopping 172 percent.

However, for most casual players, you should be looking at an average ROI of around 15-20 percent. This increases as you move up the levels and increase the number of games.

One other factor to consider is the volume of games. While our sample takes 100 games into account, you need to be playing around 1,500 games to get a better picture of your ROI. This volume then factors in variance (the swings in fortune you'll inevitably experience) to give you a truer figure.

If you're playing $10-$20 SNGs, an ROI of 20-25 percent should be achievable, while the ROI may dip slightly as you move up the difficulty levels. Good players at higher stakes should aim for ROIs of 10-15 percent. Move on further up to the biggest games, and you may find an ROI of 5-7 percent common.

ROI and Variance

Improving your ROI isn't just about picking the right games; it's about playing enough of them. With online games so easy to multi-table at, it's important to play as many games as you can to improve your win-rate and get your volume of games rocketing.

First, work your way up to that magic 1,000 or 1,500 games level, then work out your ROI. And the reason for playing so many games is variance.

Variance is the fluctuation of your results over a long period of time. This can be down to luck, bad beats, or coming up against a bunch of fish. You might hit bad spells of variance, even when you're playing well. Of course, variance goes both ways, and you yourself may experience periods of good variance (although most players conveniently forget the times they sucked out on other players).

Variance affects everyone, even the great players, and anyone can be hit by bad luck at one time or another. But playing enough games is a good way to help iron out variance and negate the swings, especially if you're a solid player. Playing enough games, and playing at the best of your abilities, is the best way to stabilize your ROI.

Is ROI Really That Important?
ROI - importance of ROI

While an average ROI is important to give you an indication of both your level and your profit, it's not the only thing to consider.

Some players today put more emphasis on your profits per hour than ROI. It's true that ROI can alter depending on the number of players, the speed of the tournament (especially when playing turbo SNGs), and the buy-in.

The more you play (and that's multi-tabling too), the more you can earn. And if you can earn more in an hour at a steady rate, that can be a much more useful stat than a straight ROI.

Knowing your ROI is just a part of good bankroll management: so, take notes, keep records and plan your bankroll. In the long-term you'll end up a more profitable player.