This page is nowhere near complete
One thing we see over and over in the stake pool operator world is that delegators hop around from pool to pool, staying with a pool for an epoch or two. This is not enough time to get to know if a pool is dependable.
Many people don’t realize that luck is a large factor. The number of blocks assigned to a pool IS based on the amount of ADA staked, but it is randomly assigned. Here is an example from adapools for our AZUR pool. You can see that 6 blocks is the most statistically probable number of blocks, based on the active stake. But, the actual number could be anything from 0 to 15.
From our friend, Mike at pooltool. Bob and Sally could each have a very different opinion of a pool if they only stayed with a pool an epoch or two, if the number of assigned blocks falls left or right of the line below.
So, be patient if a pool has an abnormally low number of blocks, and be grateful if there’s an abnormally high number. Here’s our pool over the last 5 epochs (the first 5 that stake pools minted blocks). Things will bounce around, but it’s the long-term trend what is what is important. If Bob jumped to another pool, after epoch 211 or 212, they missed the great epochs we had in 213, 214, and 215, and the rewards that came with them.
The most important factor to stake pool rewards is minting blocks. Period. However, NO POOL will ever stay 100%. There are sometimes “block battles” where two (sometimes more) pools get assigned the SAME block. They both make the block, but the blockchain only accepts one of them. The other doesn’t get credit. This is relatively rare, but it does happen. See the largest pool IOG1 (from pooltool), at time of writing. It has 499 lifetime blocks, but has lost some battles, as you can see, under “ORPHANS”.
So, what should you look for?
- Consistent performance, minting near 100% blocks (actually minting 100%, only “missing” the block battles)
- This depends on having good infrastructure: redundancy, automation, monitoring, remediation, etc.
- A non-saturated pool. Rewards DECREASE when stake pools get too full. That level is currently 210 Million ADA, but will change over time. Delegating to an oversaturated pool will ALWAYS earn you fewer rewards than non saturated.
- Skilled operators. Many pools are run by very skilled operators, but some really don’t understand the ecosystem and just copy/pasted the code to run the pool. You want someone with enough skills to recover if there are issues (like if there’s a bad patch or something).