Its been a few years since we posted a highly popular article dispelling the myths on what fraction of online poker players win money over the long term, so we figured it was time to give out some updated statistics.
The general gist of that article is that for a number of reasons the amount of winning players is far higher than people expect. However within that there is a huge variation between different networks. Some of it is caused by regulatory factors, such as high taxation on the operators forcing higher rake jurisdictions, some is caused by some networks heavily investing in freerolls and guaranteed tournaments which will boost players tournament profitability, possible at the expense of other types of promotions, and some of the causes are simply unknown. Whatever the reason though the data is still quite interesting to try and interpret.
One of the limitations of our data, other than it only including tournaments, is that we only include players with at least 100 games played. For the larger networks we’ve found that this limit has little effect on the fractional results, but it does tend to boost the smaller network probability as you have to be dedicated on these network to even find 100 tournaments to play.
The other thing to remember is that these numbers do not exclude any external promotions such as rakeback or deposit bonuses.
So the headline figure is that 22% of online tournament players are profitable which is down from the 26% we saw in 2009.
Here’s the data by network:
|Network||% Profitable Players|
|Gioco Online Italia||23%|
The top 2 networks iPoker.es and PartyPoker.es are clearly effected by the 100 game small network bias, although generally the Spanish markets fair well overall. This is possible due to it being the newest major regulated market so the different sites are still competing hard with aggressive promotions to win early market share. Other than that most of the trends remain consistent to the data seen in 2009. Italy is still bad place to play winning poker and it appears the unregulated sites such as Merge and Dollaro are able to funnel their lower tax burden back into their players profits through lower rake and better promotions (though remember withdrawing from the unregulated sites is always a gauntlet).
I believe that the percentages are higher than reality because Sharkscope doesn’t use accurate rebuy/addon facts. Some players who play very badly on purpose during the rebuy periods take way more rebuys than the average in hopes of getting lucky and building a big stack at some point before the addon. I believe many of these players are big losers even though their graphs show them as big winners. I’d sure like some pros to comment on this because I could be very wrong. Perhaps playing ridiculously bad during the rebuy period is a good strategy for some players. I see the same players getting those huge 1sts, 2nds, and 3rds over and over and over again (example the Wild Wild West tourneys on Revolution), but I can’t tell how much they spent to get there.
It’s an interesting point, but only around 5% of tournament seats are from rebuy tournaments so that’s not enough to significantly swing these numbers. Plus the networks where we do have fully accurate rebuys, rather than using the average rebuys for each player, such as Winamax, are pretty much mid table.