The world of poker has an infinity of concepts and terms that, at first glance, may seem strange to us and we understand absolutely nothing. However, as we become more familiar with this gambling game, the difficulty is lost and we even incorporate them into our vocabulary as experienced players. Everything consists of a process of progressive assimilation and research.

In this article we analyze one of the most important concepts in the world of poker: upswing. This term is of vital importance to calculate our winnings. We explain it to you.

Meaning of upswing

Upswing is an English word that means “rise, rise or upward movement. Indeed, upswing in poker is about our winnings. Specifically, when after playing many and many hands, we find that we are on a roll. Upswing is a concept that needs a mathematical formula to analyze what our winnings are and if we are on a roll or if it is time to change our strategy.

Upswing is measured, above all, by professional players – those who live from poker and dedicate themselves exclusively to it. It is calculated on the basis of the big blinds for every 100 hands played or, in other words, bb/100. Now, what are the Big Blinds?

The blinds in poker

Poker blinds are a type of mandatory bet in certain game modes, such as Omaha Hold’em and Texas Hold’em. They are related to the position in which we play – the two players immediately to the left of the dealer – and must be paid before the cards are dealt. The blinds can be the same size or one Big and one Small Blind. These count as each player’s bets, so they must not match or exceed them.

The Big Blind pays the player in two positions to the left of the dealer, the Small Blind pays the player just to the left of the dealer. In the case of the Big Blind it is always double the small blind and when we are in that position it is mandatory that we pay the amount that is stipulated. The position changes in each hand so, during each turn, each player will have to face that amount that is added to the central pot of the table.

How do we calculate the upswing?

There are several ways to calculate the upswing. In fact, we can find some computer programs that help us to make the calculation, as well as to compare our real winnings with the expected ones -those in which variance, or luck factor, is not taken into account.

How do we interpret upswing?

Upswing is a concept that gives rise to several interpretations, so we must be careful with what we understand so that we do not get confused or speed up when it comes to continuing with the moves. For example, when luck is in our favour and we win with a pair of hands against an older pair of hands but, at the same time, we are investing – even though it is being profitable. We have a positive upswing at that moment, but in the long term it does not guarantee us anything. In this case, it is essential to take into account the EV curve – or what is the same, the Expected Value that allows us to know precisely if the move we are making is a winner or a loser in the long term. In this case, to know if it is really an upswing or a downswing -when luck is not on our side-, we must check that our winnings are above the EV curve. In other words, we calculate that we are on a roll with respect to luck and our EV curve -we have an upswing.

Another interpretation of upswing is when we want to check if we are playing well with strategy, leaving luck aside. In this case, what we have to look at is that the win curve and the EV curve are equal.