Of all the things one has to learn to become a top notch poker player, mastering variance may be one of the toughest. Variance in poker is term used to describe the ups and downs of your bankroll. Variance broken down even further can be described as the comparison between how much or how many times you win as compared to how much or how many times you lose.
An easy way to compare poker variance to other well know things is this past season, the Arizona Cardinals were one play away from being Super Bowl Champions after losing 44% of their regular season games. A major league baseball player would be in the Hall of Fame and be considered the best player ever if he succeeded in getting a hit just 40% or the time at the plate. The top scorers in the NBA miss over half their shots. Now none of these things happen in prolonged steaks. They all deal with variance. An NBA player’s misses a few and makes a few. He makes 5 in a row, and then misses 6 in a row. The best of the best learn to deal with their misses and keep on shooting with no ill effects from the misses. This same thing happens in poker. You might be up $150 and all of a sudden a few hands later you’re only up $20. And just like in basketball, the best of the best poker players know how to play after a few bad hands or even a few losing sessions.
Now let’s get back poker. A good player in poker might win $1,200 for every $1,000 he loses. You might start a came with $300 in a 1 / 2 no limit game and go all they down to nothing and have to rebuy, than bring it all the way up to $1,500. They key to overcoming these swings, or variances, is to master them. By learning to master these variances in chips and still play your game, you will overcome one of the toughest obstacles in poker. You must learn how to play your game when you are up $800 or down $800. You must be able to stay focused after a big win just as much as you have to stay focused after a bad beat. Do not allow either to effect you. So what can you do to master this tough invisible opponent?
Variance is a natural part of the game. Expect it. If you think you are going to win every hand you throw chips into, you are mistaken. Don’t get too high when you are winning and don’t get too low when you are losing. If you are an aggressive player, expect bigger variances. If you are a conservative player, variances will be less noticeable, but conservative players generally get mentally down easier when they start to lose. Fight the negative thoughts and get back to your game. The only way to defeat this opponent is to stay mentally tough. Let the variances get into your head and you are destined to lose in the long run. Conquer variance and you will be on your way to the easier task of defeating a real live opponent.