Variance in Poker

Poker is a game of chance and incomplete information. While it’s also a game of skill and the best players will always win longterm, you can and will experience hard times. With hard times, I’m referring to ones in whom you’ll play your absolute best and will still loose. This is known as short term luck, which is affected by variance.

When you go all in in a particular hand, you are usually either ahead or behind. If you’re a 70% favourite, you expect to win 70 out of 100 times, when a hand like that occurs. However, you also expect to loose 30 out of 100 times. The thing is that it doesn’t go like this: win seven times in a row and then loose 3. You’ll sometimes loose 10 times in a row, which is totally possible and can happen. This will often have a really negative impact on your game and can cause you to play worse.

If you’re looking to Play Poker at a serious level, be prepared to deal with variance. There are several key things that can help you through-out the process.

  • Analyse your game. When you’re loosing it’s easy to blame variance about it. However, people often just Play bad and are too proud or stubborn to admit that they actually aren’t beating the game. They are loosing players! To make sure you are not, constantly go over your hands played. It will help you to gain confidence and advance as a Poker Player.
  • Be careful with your Bankroll. Variance can be crazy, even more if you’re playing Omaha. You can find a lot of advice on the internet, when it comes to bankroll management. However, most of it seems really wrong to me. It’s always better to be careful, when you are dealing with money. I’d advise you to have at least 40 Buy-Ins for the games that you want to play.
  • Select Tables. Poker is a game of small edges. The smaller your edge is, the larger swings you’ll experience. By selecting tables and playing against weak opponents, you’ll lock yourself for experiencing smaller variance!
  • Have some time off. If Poker is your main source of income, you might feel the obligation to Play, when on a downswing. I’ll stop you right there! Don’t play for a dozen hours every day, if you’re not doing well! Trust me, it’s easy to get crazy and loose your mind. Have some time off, catch up with friends and have a beer!