February cashgame poker challenge: 20K hands and $400.

Inspired by a poker friend, I have taken on a mutual February cashgame poker challenge with the goal of playing 20.000 hands at NL10 with a profit of $400. I will be playing fullring NL10 on PokerStars.

The PokerStars client and cashgame lobby shows, that the NL10 player pool has 44 tables running and a total of 74.296 players in total.

Time management.

There is 4 weeks in this month, which is 5.000 hands per month to complete the total 20.000 hands. PokerStars only allows 4 tables, which plays about 300 hands per hour, which means 17 hours per week for this challenge. I will probably not be able to play the full amount of hands, because of that, but I will try.

Strategy to beat NL10.

The strategy, I will be using, will assume, that the players are mainly level 1 and 2 players, and generally on the passive side, which I will exploit by playing quite simple tight and aggressive player style, that I will adjust to individual player styles of my opponents in terms of value to bluff ratio, bet sizes and lines. I will bet and raise more against passive fish and check and call more against aggressive fish. You can read more about this in my post Poker player profiling and color coding.

I face a minimum 3bet from an aggressive fish and 4bet with pocket aces. This player can not hand read, so I expect him to call.
I check pocket aces to the aggressive fish, that, as expected, goes all-in on this flop, that brings a scare card like this king. Continuation betting here would be a mistake. If this player was a passive fish, I should bet.

I will only expect very few good and strong level 3 players. I will expect, that these players will quickly recognize my level and play straight forward against me with a value or give-up mindset. For that reason, their tendencies against me will be different than against other players and I should not level myself into being deceived away from that.

Focus areas.

My biggest challenge will be adapting to the crazy fish, that exist on these stakes, as they will play their hands in surprising lines and are generally hard or impossible to read. They do not use preflop charts and does not know how their hand performs in relation to their opponent. It is very easy for a player like me to level myself into either putting them on strong made hands, that makes sense to me, or putting them on bluffs, that they are not capable of running.

Tracking progress and results.

I will track all played hands in PokerTracker and update the results after each week. When the challenge in complete, I will also run a some of my sample analysis filters and present pool tendencies.


I had to abort the challenge after about a week due to lack of time, which I also feared would be the case. My strategy for NL10 turned out to be relaxed, solid and profitable with a win rate of 18,71 bb per 100 hands. If I assume, that I could hold a win rate of 10 bb per 100 hands for the 20K hands, I would have completed the challenge and reached the goal.

The graph from PokerTracker looks solid and shows a win rate at 18,71 bb per 100 hands over 5.557 hands.

I was mostly value oriented. I only ran a few bluffs, which mainly was solid ones like nut flush blockers and gut shots. There was more passive fish than expected. I did not notice a single level 3 player.