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Expert review by

Grinding: what it is and how to make the most use of it

Of course, it is not easy to keep the focus for many hours, so only experienced poker players can grind effectively.

There are a lot of regular players who choose a room with a good Rakeback. In such a case, it’s more than enough not to lose focus after exhausting sessions, play for a very long time automatically, and you may expect a reasonable profit as a result. But this approach is highly risky because if you play without thinking much, downswings can be quite significant. Actually, you won’t manage without a steady bankroll and nerves of steel. 

Types of cash games grinders in poker

types of cash games grinders in poker

All cash grinders can be divided into two categories due to a game type.

Offline games lovers

If to talk about grinders who prefer real tables in a casino to virtual ones, you can for sure call them the harshest ones. It’s much harder to spend hours in a real-life game than sitting online in front of a computer screen.

Such people can fold all hands for an hour and even more, and this ability is brought to perfection among them. Patience and a cool head are key in situations like this. The task is to avoid tricky rounds against regular players as well as to focus on weak players who mainly bring profit.

Online cash games lovers

Online grinders can play much more impressively in their length sessions in comparison with offline ones. That’s not surprising because if you gamble on a website, you can increase the number of tables you play on.

Such players don’t have any problems with either discipline or diligence. They usually can control their emotions well, too, because tilting and playing for long hours may be fatal for their bankroll.

How many hands to play, how long, and why it matters

Usually, grinders concentrate on many games at once, and they are fully aware that it affects their win rate significantly. If you play multiple poker tables and spend more than 6 hours per day on it, you will inevitably start relying on default solutions a lot—the less complicated decisions you make, the better.

In pursuit of the number of hands, you have less time to think about the best solution in each game. It goes without saying that your win rate will be decreasing, but profit in dollars per hour will remain satisfactory because of a significant number of hands played at the same time.

Of course, in a perfect case, each grinder is doing their best to keep playing well during long sessions, but it’s not as simple as it may sound. Zoom made things much easier because now a player can focus on more difficult tables without being distracted by a significant number of them. The fast-play has its pros and cons, but I’m not going to discuss them here.

Grinders and MTT

grinders and mtt

A working day is the same for both MTT players and cash grinders; there are just some little peculiarities that differ. The number of games helps to minimize variance and increase profit. MTT players often add to their schedule not only planned tournaments but also turbos to play as many tables as possible.

MTT grinders don’t only have nerves of steel; they must have iron guts, too. Because MTT variance is insane, downswings can last not for a few days but many months, even if you play lots and lots of hands. Only the best of the best can manage it.

Another difficulty is that if you choose MTT grinding, it affects your self-confidence. Swings and days when you lose happen often and eventually make players doubt their strategy. So your approach to a game must be correct and well balanced. A fact-based analysis of your strategy will show you when you are generally winning, and losses are caused by variance alone.

SNG grinders

In terms of difficulty, it lies somewhere in between cash games and MTT. A great advantage is that you don’t need to play 12-hour and longer sessions; it’s much easier to adjust the playing time to your preferences here.

You can organize your schedule to have many tournaments every day, and breaks between sessions will last more than 5 minutes.

How variance works when you are grinding

It’s pretty hard not to lose focus from one session to another if you play many tables at once for more than 6 hours per day. You have less time to think about decisions, so your control over the field is reduced. Win rate will also drop, which means that downswings become more dramatic.

But the thing is that for a grinder, the more tables, the better – and such approach helps to deal with variance and stop it from ruining your monthly profits.

Let’s discuss two players with different strategies:

One prefers to play 3-4 tables, and their main purpose is to maximize EV.
Another one chooses to grind.

If you compare graphs of these two players, you will notice that the second one fluctuates more than the first. But in general, a grinder increases their profits more per hour because of the number of hands per time. Rakeback brings in some extra money for sure, too.

Grinding and motivation

I can go on about the qualities of a proper grinder for a long time, but the fact is that only a person who is crazy about poker can play it for so long and often. You simply can’t play for hours without powerful motivation. You may give it a try and organize your schedule for at least a week to plan not less than 6 hours every day for playing sessions – you’ll see, it’s not a piece of cake.

If you are madly into something, you will study all traps and pitfalls on the way and achieve great success. But it’s only possible if you can balance your private life and work. You will neither succeed nor become happy if you spend lots of hours on something at the expense of your family relationship or health.

A proper grinder must understand the importance of knowing their limits in everything they do. It’s crucial to live life to its fullest outside casino tables because paying attention to your health and private life positively affects your poker results.

Grinding and your emotional state

You cannot tilt and truly grind at the same time. If you play long sessions, you don’t have time to think about disappointing short-term results. All you need is a cool head and correct decisions to gain long-term profits.

An average player can take a break, have some rest, relax and then return to playing later – the next day, for example. A grinder can’t do it because long breaks affect their results negatively. It means that you should do your best to avoid tilting. Any emotional swings may turn out bad for a grinder.

A true grinder gains EV by playing more tables and playing longer, so the more stable your game is, the better.

Gemma Heathcote
Gemma Heathcote.

Gemma Heathcote – Editor @ Superlenny

Gemma is the Editor of SuperLenny.com, where her main responsibility outside of editing and writing content is overseeing everything published online. She’s also ensures the day to day operations of SuperLenny are kept running smoothly, including keeping Josh and Matt in check!