How strong is your macro-game?

How strong is your macro-game?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

There are many different player attributes that contribute towards profitability. At MyPokerLab, we split these attributes into two groups: micro-game and macro-game.

A player’s micro-game refers to his abilities at hand-to-hand play. This includes concepts as simple as an understanding of the hand rankings to more advanced capabilities like being able to get inside an opponent’s head, understanding how they think and play, and then defining the optimal strategy to exploit them.

From a micro point of view, the better we play from one hand to another, the more likely we are to have a positive win-rate. This is a well understood concept and players know it matters. However, many players do not realise how much the macro aspects of the game also affect their profitability.

When we say macro-game, we are referring to the general characteristics of a player beyond their hand-to-hand decision making abilities. This includes, but is not limited to:
Good bankroll management, tilt control, intelligent use of tracking and stats, table and opponent selection, diligent note-taking, efficient multi-tabling, self analysis, opponent analysis, as well as having the commitment to put the hours in, play enough hands, and constantly apply yourself.

A player’s macro-game can be the most influential factor contributing to his net winnings. This is why some players may be very good at analysing situations and making good decisions in hand-to-hand play, but aren’t rolling in money.

A nice analogy can be found in the world of Formula 1 motor racing. Imagine your micro-game is the driver and your macro-game is everything else: the ground crew, the car, the R & D, the financing, the management… everything down to the quality control people at the manufacturing plant. Now, the driver is incredibly important – there’s no doubt about that. He gets all the glory. It’s the driver that the fans cheer for when he takes the podium and, somewhat inaccurately, it’s the driver that people generally believe is the most important piece of the puzzle. But the truth of the matter is that, in an absolute sense, it doesn’t matter how good the driver is if the car is no good, or the team can’t afford replacement parts when they wear out, or the driver is always entered in to races against better drivers.

Similarly, you might be outstanding at hand-to-hand play but any major weaknesses in your macro-game can mean you’ll lose the race (excuse the pun). However, assuming your micro-game isn’t terrible, if your macro-game is strong you will simply be predisposed towards making money at poker. This is why some seemingly mediocre players have made millions – many have achieved such success by having amazing game selection, essentially ensuring they have an edge every time they play.

Our general point is that a good poker player is more than someone who is just good at playing poker. Many people view the macro-game as secondary to the micro-game, when in fact it’s probably the other way round. So, although everyone knows that standards have improved and are continuing to improve, this mostly reflects a rise in the quality of the micro-game. It is this imbalance which means that, in an ever tougher arena, there is still plenty of opportunity to define an edge against the field by having a very strong macro-game.

At MyPokerLab our educational content and tools are designed to make you a confident, self-sufficient, winning poker player and it’s all completely free! So be sure to check out everything we have to offer at

Tags: My Poker Lab, Strategy