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To illustrate what can happen, and how long you have to wait at times, I ran a number of simulations with Texas Turbo Hold'em (available from wilsonsoftware.com). This poker simulation package allows you to specify playing habits of players and put together a table of players with characteristics you specify. I simulated a $10/20 game, with $3 rake and our hero in the simulation toked $1 when he won a pot. I set up the opponents so that our hero was a winning player (in a raked game no one will be a winning player unless the opponents are making a lot of mistakes). On average (based on a 7 million hand simulation), our hero was slightly less than a $10 per hour winner (assuming thirty-five hands per hour). This is smaller than the one big bet an hour that is generally accepted to be an achievable win rate, but its probably closer to what most of you will experience.

I then simulated a sequence of five-hour playing sessions. In the first fifty trials I ran, our hero lost money in half of them. Half. And his win rate was slightly higher than his overall average-he won $10.77 per hour. A winning poker player-and he loses half the time. This can get real discouraging.

The reason he was an overall winner even though he lost half of the sessions is that his winning sessions tended to be bigger than his losing sessions. The range was a high of +$816 and a low of -$615. Twelve sessions gave wins over $300 and only five sessions had losses worse than -$300. A few large wins compensate for many small losses. This is typical of what you'll experience at the table if you play in loose games.
 
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