While success in poker is typically measured by the amount of money won, the actual figures going into the player’s pockets are most of the time undisclosed, as online records that are accessible to the public only show the player’s gross winnings.
The Hendon Mob poker database for example displays the tournament results of poker players according to gross earnings reported by poker venues across the world. While this is the system currently being followed, the recorded numbers don’t actually tell much at all about a player’s real profit margins.
Online and live results are tracked differently — with online tournaments, results are easily monitored and automatically tracked, with complete statistics, such as profit and return-on-investment (ROI), as well as average stake and average ROI, as shown in sites like Sharkscope.
While some live players stressed that they actually maintain spreadsheets of buy-ins and cashes to monitor their actual results, most pros do not share such information publicly.
Call for Transparency
How tournament results should be reported is not an entirely new topic of discussion in the poker industry. Joey Ingram recently sparked a fresh debate on the matter on Twitter. The poker pro and content creator said he still can’t believe that players only report the amount they cash out for, and not the actual amount they’ve bought in for.
American poker pro Elio Fox pointed out that a lot of live tournament players have records of their buy-ins but simply choose not to release them for the public to see. Some players who responded to Ingram’s tweet cited a few reasons, such as to make the game appear more big-time. Alex Livingston agreed to Fox’s views, saying most pros actually track their wins and losses privately.
Chris Kruk also said that for most savvy players, total gross winnings don’t actually prove anything. It’s just that certain players display that figure to promote themselves, and while total cashes don’t really tell much, people often judge players according to publicly available data.
Private tracking of results has become a norm for players nowadays, but two years ago, Daniel Negreanu bared an eye-opening account of his tournament results for the past five years. The former leader of the All-Time Money List cashed for $2,792,104 in 2017, which could appear like he was a big winner that year, but considering his buy-ins which totaled $2,874,164, Negreanu was actually $86,140 in the negative at the end of 2017.
However, despite being in the red for that year, Negreanu’s records showed that everything is relative. His average stake was just $40,000, and while he also had a losing year in 2016, he earned huge profits in the three years before it. Negreanu emphasized that even though cashing for seven figures within a year could indicate a player’s stellar performance, it could actually mean a losing year especially for high-stakes pros playing a full high-roller schedule.
Kruk said gross winnings don’t actually mean much, except for those who are aiming to promote their brand. It works in the same manner as displaying the number of WSOP bracelets a player has won throughout his career. Kruk said that they are all part of an arbitrary system designed for fun, and people who make use of them as proof that they’re great players are most probably posers who actually can’t provide real evidence of their actual winnings.
Some pros do it with good intentions though, such as tracking their own progress, competing with friends or setting goals, but if you judge poker success based on those figures means you lack understanding of how poker really works.
Decision Lies On the Player
While discussing potential solutions to this issue, poker pro Matt Waxman responded to Ingram’s tweet and offered a unique idea which could actually be effectively applied to individual poker tours and other closed-in systems.
Waxman said a POY system could be put in place where players would be required to disclose their full results, winnings and losses, including their total volume, ROI and profit. But the main problem with this idea is that information usually comes from several tournament venues adopting their own different systems and rules for reporting such data.
Ryan Laplante is among those players who are comfortable showing everyone how well he’s done by displaying his lifetime live stats, including his total results, ROI and buy-ins. Laplante said most players don’t do very well, so they choose to just report gross cashes as it is the industry standard.
At the end of the day, the decision lies on the players themselves, whether or not they want to be honest enough in reporting their actual results.

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