There is a massive following these days by players who are obsessed by earn rates in poker. You see articles and forum posts all the time from players who want to know what good earn rates are for such a game or for certain levels. It is very difficult for two players to ever replicate the exact same earn rate for numerous reasons and so seeing other peoples earn rates should not have too much effect on your game plan. So let us look at all of the factors that affect earn rates.
Firstly we have individual skill which is clearly different from player to player. Then we have the differences in poker sites. Believe it or not, there are differences in skill from poker site to poker site based on numerous dynamics. Another factor that influences earn rates is what time of day you play as there can be weaker fish at certain times of the day over others. Another factor that affects earn rate is your level of concentration and this can differ from player to player and I suppose that this can be put down to skill as well.
Some players look at rakeback and sign up bonuses and include them in their earn rate while other players don’t. So when you see an earn rate by a player who is quoting say 9ptbb/100 over 75,000 hands at NL50 while you are merely making 3ptbb/100 over the same sample size then you do not need to start fretting about this. Remember one very important thing, if you are making 3ptbb/100 over 75,000 hands then you are in very elite company simply because you are a winning poker player.
I have heard of players who have had totally different sample sizes of 100,000 hands. Top professionals have run good for 100k hands and then broken even over the next 100k hands. Many players simply refuse to accept that variance could last as long as 200,000 hands. Imagine if you started your career with a break even stretch of 100k hands? How would you feel after embarking on such a run? Could you cope mentally with not winning over 100k hands?
This is where rakeback and sign up bonuses increase in importance hugely. Let us say that you go on a huge 100,000 hand break even stretch and you play 25,000 hands per month. If you make $1000/month in rakeback or sign up bonuses then you are ahead by $1000 at the end of the month despite breaking even. This is a huge cushion on your psyche because in your mind then you are not encountering a losing run. This is why I would include rakeback and sign up bonuses in my earn rate.
I know that a lot of players refuse to do this but I believe that it isn’t a bad thing to do if you are a relatively inexperienced player or you have yet to experience a really bad run.