» Data Analysis A Heads Up Poker Strategy Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 04:24:29 +0000 en hourly 1 5 Best Countries in HU NL /2010/04/5-best-countries-in-hu-nl/ /2010/04/5-best-countries-in-hu-nl/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 03:11:28 +0000 Gugel /?p=753 41.38% of Russians are winners at HU NL

Russia has the Best HU NL Players

In my previous post, I talked about the 5 countries that have the worst HU NL players.  Now, as promised, here are the 5 countries with the best heads up players. (At this point, I figured I’d just share the whole list).  Congrats to you Russians.  You are the best HU NL players.

Personally, I’m really surprised that Americans are so far down the list.  I thought we’d be high up since we invented the game…

Again, this data is from which looked at Full Tilt players that played over 1,000 hands in 2010.

Country % of Winning Players
Russia 41.38%
Hungary 40.59%
Finland 38.70%
Norway 36.57%
Brazil 36.29%
Netherlands 34.96%
Sweden 33.90%
United Kingdom 32.96%
Germany 31.59%
Canada 31.39%
USA 30.94%
Denmark 30.30%
Austria 29.80%
Australia 29.38%
Belgium 28.66%
Spain 27.40%
France 23.59%
Israel 23.21%
Italy 19.59%
Switzerland 17.84%


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5 Worst Countries in Heads Up NL /2010/04/5-worst-countries-in-heads-up-nl/ /2010/04/5-worst-countries-in-heads-up-nl/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 00:40:16 +0000 Gugel /?p=742
Switzerland Has the Worst HU NL Players

Switzerland Has the Worst HU NL Players

Ever play HU NL against a guy from Switzerland?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out according to some data from  PTR analyzed Full Tilt players that played over 1,000 hands in 2010.  As expected, the majority of players are losers, but the Swiss take the number 1 spot as the worst heads up players!  Only 17.4% are winners.  Here are 5 countries that have the greatest percentage of losing HU NL players:

Country % of Winning Players
Switzerland 17.8%
Italy 19.6%
Israel 23.2%
France 23.6%
Spain 27.4%

Stay tuned for next weeks post with the 5 countries that have the greatest percentage of winning players. Post a comment with your guess on which country will get the number 1 spot.

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The Best Days & Times to Play Poker /2009/10/the-best-days-times-to-play-poker/ /2009/10/the-best-days-times-to-play-poker/#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2009 17:49:22 +0000 Gugel /?p=410 In my previous data analysis posts, we talked about how hard it is to move up in stakes and which sites have the best action.  Now, we’re going to look at what are the best times to play NL Hold’Em.

There’s obviously a lot of anecdotal evidence out there.  Most people assume that the action on weekend nights is the juiciest.  LuckySOB analyzed the sessions he played between June and August (note that he didn’t play on weekends) and found that he won:

  • 42% of the sessions he played between 8AM and 11AM
  • 49% between noon and 3PM
  • 52% between 4PM and 7PMn
  • 82% between 8PM and Midnight

That’s great and all, but that’s obviously very limited anecdotal evidence.  So how do we get good statistically significant data?  Dameon from was kind enough to send me some awesome data about average pot sizes.  Here’s a graph of what the average pot size looks like for $100NL on FullTilt based on the day of week and time of day.

FullTilt $100NL Best Times to Play

FullTilt $100NL Best Times to Play

The times are all military Eastern Standard Time.  In other words, “Tuesday – 18″ means Tuesday at 6:00PM EST.

Based on the graph, we can tell that the peak times to play for

  • Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday is around 9-11PM.
  • Thursday night has a longer peak time — from around 8PM – 12AM.
  • On Friday, the action starts to get hot at around 6PM and stays hot until 2AM or so.
  • Saturday night has the overall highest average pot size.

Interested to know what the graph looks for PokerStars?  How about what the graph looks like for $200NL, $400NL, or $1000NL?  You can download the full PDF with all the graphs on the Forums (yes this is a bribe to get you to sign up).  When you register and login, you’ll see a secret “Premium Content” forum start to show up on the Forum index page.  The download link will be in there.

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Should You Play on PokerStars or FullTilt? – Average Pot Sizes /2009/09/pokerstars-or-fulltilt-a-decision-based-on-average-pot-sizes/ /2009/09/pokerstars-or-fulltilt-a-decision-based-on-average-pot-sizes/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2009 13:51:53 +0000 Gugel /?p=393 PokerStars vs. FullTilt

PokerStars vs. FullTilt

I’m really excited about this post.  This data has never been released and it’s practical, objective advice that can increase your winrate.

Here’s how I got my hands on this juicy data:
Dameon of PokerTableRatings saw my last post on trying to objectively measure how hard it is to move up in stakes and asked me if I wanted any additional data.  I asked him to ship me the average pot size by day of week/time of day and he was kind enough to oblige.  (Dameon, you’re the man).  With Dameon’s data, I basically knew the juiciest times to play on every site and every stake.  I’m going to share it with you.

So, in this post, I’ll start off by addressing whether it’s better to play on PokerStars or FullTilt.

You guessed it, it depends :)
If you play $25NL, $50NL, $100NL, $400NL, $600NL or $2000NL, Stars is better.  If you play $200NL, $1000NL or $5000NL, FullTilt is better.  The chart below shows the average pot size for both sites.

Stakes FullTilt Average Pot Size PokerStars Average Pot Size
$25 NL $2.37 $3.09
$50 NL $4.31 $5.28
$100 NL $7.58 $10.45
$200 NL $19.54 $18.24
$400 NL $31.17 $33.20
$600 NL $40.11 $43.65
$1000 NL $85.53 $62.94
$2000 NL $83.81 $137.63
$5000 NL $265.56 $251.81

Why is this the case?  I think FullTilt’s rakeback program attracts better players for lower stakes (those low-limit grinders) and pots are smaller as a result.  As for the higher levels ($200NL and up), I have no idea what’s happening.  There are definitely some significant discrepancies (especially at $2000NL).  Anyone have any theories?  Post a comment.

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How Hard is it to Move Up in Stakes? /2009/09/how-hard-is-it-to-move-up-in-stakes/ /2009/09/how-hard-is-it-to-move-up-in-stakes/#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2009 15:34:41 +0000 Gugel /?p=369 So as a follow-up to my previous post about data analysis, I decided to find out how hard it is to move up in stakes.  Let’s say you’re playing $100NL and want to move up to $200NL.  Just how much tougher is the competition?

Up to now, it’s been all hearsay.  One guy says it’s easy.  Another guy says it’s hard.  There was just no way to objectively measure the difficulty in moving up in stakes.  But now, thanks to PokerTableRatings, and lots of data analysis by yours truly, we can have a better idea of what to expect when we want to move up.

So here’s what I did.  I assumed that the average number of hands played at a certain level is an accurate reflection of the competition.  The more hands played, the weaker the competition.  The less hands played, the stronger the competition.  The data below supports that correlation.

Stakes Average HU Hands Played Per Day on FullTilt
$50 NL
$100 NL
$200 NL
$400 NL
$600 NL
$1000 NL
$2000 NL
$5000 NL

Now, as you can see, there’s a big drop in the number of hands played when you go from $50NL to $100NL and relatively small drop from $600NL to $1000NL.  So the theory is that:

  • A big percentage decline in the number of hands played from the previous level means it’s hard to move up
  • A small percentage decline in the number of hands played from the previous level means it’s easy to move up

So in other words, it’s relatively tougher to move up from $50NL to $100NL than it is to move up from $600NL to $1000NL.  Here’s a pretty graph to illustrate that point.  The lower the Difficulty Index, the easier it is to move up to that level from the previous level.

How difficult is it to move up in stakes?
How difficult is it to move up in stakes?

To make it even clearer, here’s an easy to read chart.

Stakes Difficulty of Moving Up from Previous Level
10.0 = Most Difficult
0.0 = Least Difficult
$50 NL N/A
$100 NL 5.0
$200 NL 4.0
$400 NL 4.5
$600 NL 6.0
$1000 NL 0.5
$2000 NL 5.5
$5000 NL 3.0

But I wasn’t done yet.  I wanted to squeeze every drop of insight I could out the data.  Maybe some levels have fewer hands played than what we’d expect.  If that’s the case, that would mean that heads up poker “market” has not properly adjusted to the market conditions and there was a window of opportunity.

Average number of heads up hands played per day on Full Tilt

Average number of heads up hands played per day on Full Tilt

The blue line is the actual average number of heads up hands played on Full Tilt per day.  The red line is the predicted number of hands played.  As you can see, it looks like the HU poker “market” has adjusted pretty damn well.  Damn the efficiency of those free markets!

  • $100NL and $600NL are slightly undersaturated
  • $1000NL is slightly oversaturated

There aren’t really any big windows of opportunity, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move up.  All you have to do is win more than half your current winrate to make it worthwhile!  Just get ready for some sick swings and unless your moving up from $600NL to $1000NL, don’t expect it to be easy :)

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Beating Sit-N-Gos in 2004: A Data-Analysis Lesson from ShoeMoney /2009/09/beating-sit-n-gos-in-2004-a-data-analysis-lesson-from-shoemoney/ /2009/09/beating-sit-n-gos-in-2004-a-data-analysis-lesson-from-shoemoney/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2009 14:03:29 +0000 Gugel /?p=361 Jeremy Schoemaker, aka ShoeMoney, is a brilliant marketer and comes up with some really great out-of-the-box ideas.  He wrote a post yesterday about how he was part of the 2004 poker craze and had decided to find a way to “beat the system”.  Now ShoeMoney is a really smart dude, but poker isn’t something you master overnight.  Truth be told, I’d guess he was a fish.

But here’s the thing – he looked for exploitable trends in his opponents on a large scale.  By analyzing some data, he realized that you could make the money around 20% of the time in 10-man sit-n-gos if you just fold every single hand.  Here’s the kicker though.  The time of day made a huge difference.  If you folded every single hand 1-2 hours before a major online tournament, he found that you’d breakeven!  His theory was that people were just killing time before the big event and would play rather recklessly.  He made an enhanced script (yes, a bot) that would run 1 to 2 hours before a major tourney, fold until there were 6 people, and then incorporate some very basic strategy.  Was it against the rules?  Sure.  Was it profitable in 2004?  You bet.  Would it be profitable today?  Probably not.  That’s not the point of this post though :)

The point is that you can get an edge in more ways than one.  One way is building your skills to dominate your opponents.  A less conventional one is looking for large-scale statistical trends.  According to ShoeMoney, there are just a few steps in finding these statistical trends to exploit your opponents:

  • Record Data
  • Analyze data
  • Make betting decisions based on stats
  • Build tools to improve profitability
Record Data
Analyze data
Make betting decisions based on stats
Build tools to improve profitability

I’m currently working on compiling some interesting large-scale statistical data of my own (no, I’m not making a bot).  Stay tuned.

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10% Discount Code for /2009/07/get-your-free-10-coupon-code-for-pokertableratings/ /2009/07/get-your-free-10-coupon-code-for-pokertableratings/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2009 18:56:38 +0000 Gugel /?p=313 Update 4/8/2010: The survey described below is no longer running. For 10% off your hand histories, use the discount code pollen at checkout.

So PokerTableRatings sent me an email today and asked me to fill out a survey.  I’m a fan of the site and they’re giving away $30,476 worth of free stuff, so I figured why not.  Judging from the questions they asked on the survey, it looks like PokerTableRatings isn’t going to be free much longer.   They were asking questions like “How much would you be willing to pay for PTR?” and “How much value do you place on being able to see your opponent’s stats?”  It’s kinda a bummer that they’re probably going to start charging for their service, but it’ll hopefully be a pretty reasonable price (especially since you’re not supposed to use PTR while you’re logged into Full Tilt).

Anyway, the 1st 300 people to participate in the survey get a free $10 gift card that they can use to buy hand histories and a free ebook from Royal Poker Club called “Secrets of Winning Sit and Go Tournaments”.  I have no idea if that ebook is any good, but it’s for a price you can’t beat…

PTR did something a bit silly and I have to call them out on it.  They let you access the “Thank you for completing this survey” URL without actually completing the survey…  So, if you’re lazy and don’t want to take the survey, claim your $10 promotional code (SURVEY09) and free Secrets of Winning Sit and Go Tournaments ebook.

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