Many an online gamer has heard the term ‘actions per minute’, particularly fans of real
time strategy games like Starcraft. The term, abbreviated to APM, simply refers to the
total number of in-game actions a player is able perform each minute, the higher the
Beginning players’ APM counts may be as low as 50, whereas e-athletes in the
professional world of cybersports have an APM above 300. South Korean pro Starcraft
player Park Sung-Joon holds the world record with 818.
Perhaps surprisingly, the term is rarely used in the online poker industry, despite fast
play being highly prized. Poker players instead tend to focus on the number of tables they
play. Industry leading site PokerStars sets a cap of 24 cash game tables, and for many
players this is a target.
So-called ‘rakeback grinders’ seek to take advantage of the VIP program and frequent
player point incentives by multi-tabling as many tables as they can, using hotkey software
to call, fold and raise as rapidly as possible.
Of course, as players add more tables, they’re dealt into more hands, but they also start to
play slower. Their hands/hour may in fact be the same on six tables as it is on twelve. All
that really matters is a player’s APM.
Fittingly, one of the first poker players to point this out was profilic French grinder
Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospelier, who crossed over to online poker after international success
as a Starcraft professional.
The first player to ever reach Supernova Elite status on PokerStars, ElkY became
synonymous with fast play, even setting a Guinness World record for the number of
single table tournaments played in an hour.
Later becoming a sponsored pro, he noted that it’s more important to find the optimal
number of tables where you can have the highest actions per minute count, while still
making positive expectation decisions.