Lately I have been playing microstakes cash games on a US-based poker site, finally have a decent sample size, and want to share the results for the sake of comparison to Replay. For players who wonder if Replay is a worthwhile learning experience, how it stacks up to real money poker, or who are just huge data nerds like me, hopefully this comparison is useful for the Replay community. And just for reference, the site I’ve been playing on is known as one of the toughest and is full of eastern European nit-regs, as opposed to some of the other US sites which are known for being extremely soft.
I played nearly 250k hands on Replay over several years across various game types and have 847m chips (no purchases). I was a winning reg at the elite stakes 50k/100k and 100k/200k, but never really made it consistently above that. Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate a win-rate on Replay across stakes and game types, but if someone won 500m chips in 50k hands of 50k/100k they would have a win-rate of 10bb/100 hands.
From over 10.5k hands (a much smaller sample) of 10NL 6-max cash games regular tables, I have a win-rate of over 15bb/100 hands. However, I also played 10NL 6-max blitz tables, and over 11k hands of blitz I was a losing player at slightly better than -5bb/100 hands. For those who are unfamiliar, on blitz tables you move to an entirely new table after every hand, so you are in a different position with a different set of opponents. It makes it easier to play more hands, but my heads up display doesn’t work on the blitz tables and it is much harder to take advantage of table dynamics or reads on opponents. So, the first takeaway from these data: do not play blitz unless you just want to mindlessly gamble or you are a GTO robot who can crush the games without trying to exploit specific opponents. Another fun stat, my red line (non-showdown winnings) on regular tables was -60bbs while on blitz tables it was -890bbs.
The second takeway would be, that from my experience the elite stakes of Replay is a decent parallel to 10NL. Sure, it’s all play money and nobody cares, or so players here have said, but at the elite stakes it takes a fair amount of persistence or skill edge to accumulate hundreds of millions of chips that would cost thousands of dollars to buy. Playing against these players is good practice for adjusting and beating thinking players, especially nit and loose-aggressive player types.
The caveat of this comparison is that the games themselves play differently, so the exploitative adjustments will be different. Because there is effectively no rake on Replay (and because it’s play money) people love to limp, call, and generally play passively preflop, while at 10NL (with 5% rake that is effectively uncapped) there is a lot more 3-betting and 4-betting. In my experience on Replay, 3-betting was a sign of extreme strength from most players (like QQ+/AK) and 4-betting meant KK+. At 10nl players 3-bet closer to an optimal range. My strategy has definitely changed since leaving Replay to include more 3-betting, and I can see how it would be a huge exploitative advantage to 3-bet in position a lot on Replay even though players call too much. Sure, you don’t like getting called when you 3-bet with A5s or 76s or KJs, but if you are playing in position with the initiative, you are going to generate huge profits in the long run instead of just flatting.
So, overall, I think my experience on Replay was extremely useful to gain experience in different spots and against the specific player types that are common here. If you can learn enough to consistently beat 100k/200k then you can easily beat regular table 10nl for a few bucks an hour and possibly 25nl as well (that’s my next step now that I’ve quit playing blitz to focus on building a bankroll at the regular tables). From what I have seen, 25nl has plenty of fish and isn’t that different from 10nl, so I reckon the players with multiple billions here on Replay could beat it fairly easily. This site really is a good opportunity to learn to beat cash games without risking any actual money. Just make sure that you keep trying to play strong balanced poker even if it’s possible to win while taking less risk.
If you have any questions about lessons learned from Replay, what real-money online games are like, or strategy in general, feel free to jump in!