What is Planning Poker?

Planning Poker is an agile planning and estimation technique which is based on agreement base.

Steps to start a Planning Poker

  • To start a Planning poker session, the customer or the product owner should read an agile story or describe a feature of the estimators.
  • Each estimator would be holding a deck of planning poker cards with values like 0,1,2,3,5,8,13,20,40,100 which is the sequence that is recommended. These values would represent the number of ideal days, story points or other units in which the team estimates.
  • The estimators would discuss the feature by asking questions of the product owner as required.
  • Once the entire feature is discussed, each estimator would select a card privately to represent his or her estimate. All the cards are then revealed at the same time.
  • If all the estimators select the same value, then that value would become the estimate value. If not, the estimators would discuss their estimates.
  • The low and high estimators would share their reasons specifically.
  • Once further discussions are over, each estimator would reselect an estimate card and all the cards are again revealed at the same time.

This process would be repeated until agreement is achieved or until the estimators decide that planning of a specific item and agile estimation would have to be deferred until additional information has been gathered.

Example -

Below diagram describes the list of cards that are used as part of planning poker estimation and their interpretation.

Poker Planning
Card (s) Interpretation
0 Task is already completed
½ The task is tiny.
1,2,3 These are used for small tasks.
5,8,13 These are used for large tasks.
20,40 These are used for large tasks.
100 These are used for exceptionally large tasks.
<Infinity> The task is huge.
? No idea how long it takes to complete this task
<cup of coffee> I am hungry

When should we engage in Planning poker?

Once an initial backlog is written, most of the teams would hold the Planning poker session shortly. This session would be used in sizing the project or in creating initial estimates that are useful in scoping.

As the product backlog items would be continued to add throughout the project. So, most of the teams would find it helpful to conduct Planning sessions once per iteration and subsequent agile estimations.

This process is usually done few days before the iteration ends and it would immediately follow a daily standup meeting as the whole team is together at the same time.

How does planning poker work with a distributed team?

Go to Planningpoker.com. A Product owner, Agile coach or a Scrum Master can login and preload a set of items that are to be estimated. A private URL would be shared then with the estimators who would login and join the skype session or conference call. Then, the Agile Estimation and Planning would proceed.

Benefits of Planning Poker

Planning poker combines three methods of Estimation.

Expert Opinion

In this approach, an expert would be asked how long something would take or how big it would be. Expert would provide an estimate depending on his or her experience. Expert opinion Estimation would usually do not take much time and would be more accurate when compared to some of the analytical methods.


Analogy estimation would use the comparison of user stories. The user story under the estimation would be compared with the similar user stories which were implemented earlier by giving accurate results as the estimation is based on the data that has proven.


Disaggregation estimation would be done by splitting estimate user stories.The user stories would possibly a user story into smaller,easier to be taking longer durati on that would need to be split into smaller use cases.This approach would make sure that there would be many stories that are comparable.