Figuring out an accurate hourly for a certain level of no limit game is one of the most common questions that I get almost on a daily basis. In theory, we would always want to play in the game that would give us the highest hourly just as long as we understand our bankroll limitations and our risk of ruin. However, we are not robots and there are other factors that go into game selection besides strict expected value.
Playing in Southern California has definitely taught me this concept. I remember back in 2008 and 2009 right when the Commerce Casino introduced $5-$10 $1500 cap no limit the game was absolutely amazing. Before, they only had $2-$5 $200 cap and $5-10 $400 cap at the upper end of their restricted buy-in games. So suddenly, when they introduced this pseudo deep-stacked game it was a gold mine. Now, there big games, $10-$20 and $20-40 no limit, where still somewhat strong but nowhere near as good as this $5-$10 no limit game.
It was very rare that the top winrate in the bigger games would be even fifty percent higher than the top winrates in the $5-$10 game and a few good players could make almost as much in $5-$10 as they could in $10-$20. Think of it—would you rather play in a game that affected your life day to day where there was tons of pressure or would it be better to make a smaller game regular for you that was enjoyable, stress-free and you could make almost the same amount of money?
Especially for professionals, consistency and quality of life is a major consideration. For me, one of my biggest problems has always been being motivated enough to play throughout a prolonged losing streak. Let us say that I can make 100 dollars per hour in a $10-$20 game and 75 dollars an hour at $5-$10. In the lower game I rarely feel stress and a big losing session is an anomaly. I have no problem putting in my 30 hours a week on a consistent basis. However, at $10-$20 I commonly go on 15 or 20000 dollar downswings and I only have the motivation to put in 25 hours per week. You can see that my actual overall amount of money won is only slightly more at $10-$20 do to the fact that I play less hours and my quality of life is a lot worse. People vastly underestimate happiness and mental piece of mind when they are playing full time for a living. You should strive to find the level that is the best fit for you—not based solely upon amount of money earned per hour.