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Online Poker : Grinding and Off Table Work Ratio

grinding vs poker study

5 minutes

Posted by: Ivan

It's a question that comes up a lot on poker forums and chat rooms: what is the ideal ratio of off-table time to grind time?

It's difficult to give a general answer to this question, as it depends on your goal and how much time you want to spend playing poker.

What Is Grinding?

In short, grinding is playing at a slightly lower level than you are on several tables at once and for a long time. When you grind, it's more about quantity than quality.

Choose tables with lower buy-ins and blinds. You will accumulate smaller winnings but more easily. It is the multi-tabling that will allow you to accumulate money faster.

When grinding, the goal is to play for the long haul, so it's important to choose tables where you can have the advantage without thinking too hard: you need to be able to play quickly to handle all the tables you're at.

High-level poker games can be psychologically intense. You come out of the game exhausted from thinking and analyzing hands. When grinding, you want the opposite: the ability to play for a long time with a minimum of mental effort.

Off-table Work Time

Whether you are playing for fun or with the aim of participating in major tournaments, it is important to take time off the table to work on your poker. Specifically, this time away from the table can consist of:

  • taking online poker lessons
  • reading poker books or articles on poker websites
  • watching professional poker games (and, of course, analyzing them)
  • filming your games and watching them to analyze your performance and find improvements
  • do exercises to improve your thinking process
  • share with other players on discussion groups or forums. The emulation and exchange of ideas can be very beneficial

In poker, playing helps you improve, but it is not enough. Keep in mind that work time off the table can really make the difference between you and the other players.

Distribution of Grind Time and Work Time

Regardless of what your goal in the game might be, there are a few aspects you'll want to pay attention to:

  • have good money management outside the table (bankroll management)
  • know how to select the right table for your level and your goals
  • be psychologically balanced
  • work on your logical mind
  • perseverance and discipline
  • have control over your playing time, take regular breaks (relax your mind by playing aristocrat slots, going to the gym, spending time with friends and family) and have a healthy lifestyle

The time spent grinding and working away from the table is in addition to the time spent playing. Thus, this time is variable depending on your level and your goals, as is the grind/work ratio. The reparations given below are indicative and may change over time depending on your practice.

Objective: Playing for Fun

If you play just for fun, then there are no rules. The important thing is to feel good and to find the balance that allows you to have the most fun. The grind and the time spent off the table will then be according to your desires.

Objective: Improving Your Knowledge & Skills 

If our number one objective is to progress and master new skills, it is advisable to spend most of your time working on your game away from the tables.

grinding and studying poker

It is also important, during your grinding time, to play on very few tables at the same time (2 to 4 maximum) with the intention to apply the skills you are acquiring or strengthening.

  • % grind: less than 20%.
  • % work: more than 80%.

In order to learn effectively, do not disperse yourself. For example, if you are working on the isolation technique, implement it on the table and only combine it with others when you have mastered it completely.

Read some theory on a subject and put it into practice on the table. Be patient, don't try to know everything or master it all. Like in all learning, it takes progressiveness and discipline.

Objective: Poker Professional

If you want to do everything you can to become a professional poker player, then you'll need to prioritize working away from the tables to reach a level where you can make a living from your favorite card game.

If you are fortunate enough to have a lot of time to devote to poker, divide your grind and work time as follows:

  • % grind: less than 40%.
  • % work: more than 60%.

If, on the other hand, you have little time in your schedule for poker and have very high goals, then the focus will shift to training away from the tables.

  • % grind: less than 25%.
  • % work: more than 75%.

Don't fall into the trap of some websites that offer you paid training to become a professional poker player.

studying your poker sessions

While the content offered may be of high quality, remember that all professional poker players are self-taught and that there is an impressive amount of free content available on the internet.

Objective: To Make Money

You are a winning player, you are confident in your game, and your goal is to win money as fast as possible, go for the tables, play big and go for the small fields.

  • % grind: more than 75%.
  • % work: less than 25%.

If you want to play for money, be realistic, poker can be an excellent supplement to your income (some players earn quite decent sums playing between 50 and 80 hours a month), but there is a gap between playing poker to make ends meet and living solely from poker.

The latter is a dream for many passionate players, but it's not easy to get to this position.

It takes a huge personal investment and sufficiently stable winnings over the long term and a mind of steel not to be discouraged by downswings and manage variance.


The goals mentioned above are the most common ones, but perhaps your goal is different. In addition, your personal situation and availability may influence these ratios.

Above all, remember that poker is a game, and to be successful (both at the tables and in learning), you must love what you do!

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