• Bronze
Joined: 22.03.2011
I posted this in another section of the forum but I probably should have posted it here as it applies to MTT's. I am trying to develop my MTT game and would love regs/pros to comment on this, or anyone, and give you point of few on the subject.
Thanks

I don't think I am exagerating when I say that fewer than 1 in 10 regular poker players truly understand the nature of variance and the maths that underpins the game they are playing. Statements like 'Luck or variance doesn't explain any of this'.... are very common amongst tourney players (comparatively rare amongst cash gamers) and they reveal a serious flaw in understanding the maths of marginal edges and how to beat NLH.

I could toss a coin 1000 times and I would NOT expect to hit 500 heads and 500 tails. In fact, with such a small sample I would expect to hit somewhere between 100:900 on either side of the possibility curve. If was to perform this same experiment 1000 times and toss a total of one million coins, I would expect APPROXIMATELY half of those experiments to come out in favour of one side and half of the other. Within these 1000 toss samples I would expect to see some massive swings of 950:50 down to some of almost exactly 500:500.

If I was asked to predict how many times a coin that was tossed 1000 times would come up heads I would say 500, but that is not because i expect it to happen 500 times in that sample. I would say it because I have no other information with which to base a guess on other than the overall odds. Variance is a bitch. That sample could easily come out at 50:950 and if I was spread betting on it I would lose a lot of money.

4 months of poker is like one or two of those tiny 1000 toss samples. 4 months of MTT poker is like half a sample because the variance is magnified by the graduated payout structure and the importanace of being lucky several times in succession - with the financial return coming from having more long sequences of fortunate results rather than more good or bad results (win/lose/win/lose will rarely result in a big pay day in MTTs, but lose/lose/lose/win/win/win is far more likely to result in a decent paying result).

Even 6 months of poker is a an tiny sample and gives meaningless data.

1000 hands of poker is meaningless for the purposes of analysis.

Data sets need to be massive to see a true reflection of statistical liklihoods.

With all that understood one could be forgiven for asking how it is that some players make a lot of money playing poker and with relative consistency? Are they just lucky?

Well no, In all probability there is another factor in poker that opens the door to circumventing statistical variance and that is 'good' play. Good play does not always mean getting your money in as a 60:40 or 70:30 favourite. As we have already seen the odds are cruel and vicious and you would not expect to win 60% of your 60:40 shots this month.

The way that the best players beat the game, the odds and the xxxx is by beating their opponents, not by taking marginal edges and hammering them (ok, some players do do this and with varying degrees of success depending on the volume of hands they play and their bankroll management/discipline). If you asked any six figure winner on PKR what the secret of their success is then I guarantee you that not one of them will say racing with 60% edges.

The consistent players win their money by understanding situations where they can make money and they play 'optimally' to take advantage of these situations. For example, if I am in an MTT and the blinds are 1k/2k with a 30k stack then there is at least 10% of my stack out there - plus antes. When the first 6 positions fold and a 40k stack then calls from the cut off I can see a way to make money that has nothing to do with my cards. I know early positions are prone to limp with big hands, but it is rare to see a hand that can call all in limp from that position. If I shove from the big blind here then I will win 5k (plus antes) a very large percentage of the time. On the rare occasion that he calls me I will also win the pot a fair amount of the time (even if I am crushed as a 9:2 dog with 22 vs his AA then I will still win it twice in every 11 showdowns and I will almost never be that big of a dog). If I fold, fold, fold and wait for AA then my stack drips down to the point where I am usaully covered and then I can't survive a beat and I don't have much fold equity to make a play with.

Playing well means finding a way to beat the odds, not just playing the odds well. If you just play the 'card' odds then the rak.e will usually cancel out your marginal mathematical edge and you will either break even, or make a small loss over the long term.

Poker is a betting game not a card game.

When I read all the variance and RNG moans all I think to myself is that the person complaining still doesn't understand the statistics properly and probably also isn't playing optimal poker a lot of the time. Maybe pride and fear of embarassing themselves stops them shoving all-in with 72o when it is a profitable. Maybe they have been on a downswing and that is causing them to play weak poker where they are not three betting solid opponents or reshoving on thin value river bets with air. Whatever the cause the cards can't be to blame because you shouldn't need to be showing them most of the time.

I've been on lots of final tables without ever showing down my hand.

Michael Binger made is to the 2006 WSOP main event final table without having a showdown in 2 weeks of poker, playing 12 hours a day and through a field of over 8000!!!!

When he got to the FT he got it all in for the first time in the whole two week event with QQ and was crushed by KK or AA (I forget which). He outdrew the overpair and went on to win almost 3 times as much money as the guy that got it in good. One card made all the difference to their 'lifetime' profit. That's MTTs for you. The best players play very well and some even manage to avoid gambling most of the time (by not getting into showdowns), but whatever happens you are at the mercy of the luck factor and you will be frustrated hundreds of times for every single time that you are dancing with joy. There is only ever one person who is really happy at the end of an MTT and usually hundreds or even thousands suffering varying levels of disappointment.

I am totally sick of trying to explain what variance actually means and how silly it sounds to complain about the cards in the context of a game where the cards are not nearly as important as your style and technique.

Don't forget the future Mrs Bach (Annette_15) was winning 200 runner tourneys with her cards covered up at 19 years old. How can the cards/RNG be to blame when other players are winning events without even looking at them???

The next time you are tempted to post something about variance please think about your own pride and self-respect and don't make yourselves look silly, naive or inexperienced.

We have no reason or desire to rig anything and you can't rig a game where human being are making totally different decisions with the same cards. The reason you are losing is because of how you are playing and that CAN mean you are getting it in as a favourite every time and just getting 'unlucky', but the winning player is taking all the pots in between the showdowns and he isn't complaining about the cards.

If anyone doesn't believe that I am making any sense then just toss a coin 500 times at home and record the results.

There is little doubt that you will see more than 10 of a single result in a row. Now imagine how this feels when it is 10 tournaments that you got out of in quick succession where you were 50:50-60:40 when the money went in. Suddenly that is 2 days of losing every all-in race. You are jinxed. The site hates you. Maybe it is the cash out curse? Maybe it is the doomswitch? Are Jabba and Danski angry with me?

Human beings are crazy creatures but with a little bit of reflection and perspective you can pull yourself out of this mindset and get back to finding ways to beat the game.

I hear other players say they are winning on one site and losing on another so they will stick with the other. Lmao... variance counts across all the sites. That's like saying this coin came up 950:50 heads this time, so I'm only going to use this coin from now on. It doesn't make any difference where you get your results, or if you have had a bad few months. Variance is the LIFETIME result, across every poker room and every game you ever sat in, not the month at one site where you had a downswing!

- I been studying lately alot on variance and mind set to try and fight tilt, cam across this on PKR forum and I thought it was an excellent read
• 13 replies
• Moderator
Moderator
Joined: 22.09.2006
Just FYI:
I am aware of this thread and will comment on it later. Your posting is really detailed and I will need more time to read it completely and comment properly.
If you want further feedback it might be a good idea to post some cliffs since most of the regs are really lazy when it comes to reading long articles.

Regards,
Asaban
• Bronze
Joined: 29.07.2009
Your point is, that variance depends on playing style, but that is quite obvious. If you win a lot without showdown, but not by playing bad (making vbets on the river when you should check etc.), you will have smaller swings than someone, who plays very tight, whaits for a big hand and shoves rest of his chips. That is more or less sth that most ppl know.

What is the most important in reducing swings, is skill factor - the better you are, the bigger is your skill edge over other players, the smaller are your swings. So for me, when someone is complaining about how swingy is his poker live, there is only one answer - learn, try to get better and better, because that is the only factor that depends on us.
• Bronze
Joined: 22.03.2011
Originally posted by Asaban
Just FYI:
I am aware of this thread and will comment on it later. Your posting is really detailed and I will need more time to read it completely and comment properly.
If you want further feedback it might be a good idea to post some cliffs since most of the regs are really lazy when it comes to reading long articles.

Regards,
Asaban
Cool, was hoping to hear from you thanks.

BTW what do you mean by post cliffs? ill fix it up...
• Bronze
Joined: 22.03.2011
Originally posted by Lukasz40i4
Your point is, that variance depends on playing style, but that is quite obvious. If you win a lot without showdown, but not by playing bad (making vbets on the river when you should check etc.), you will have smaller swings than someone, who plays very tight, whaits for a big hand and shoves rest of his chips. That is more or less sth that most ppl know.

What is the most important in reducing swings, is skill factor - the better you are, the bigger is your skill edge over other players, the smaller are your swings. So for me, when someone is complaining about how swingy is his poker live, there is only one answer - learn, try to get better and better, because that is the only factor that depends on us.
100% agree, gotta learn thats why im posting !lol

thanks
• Moderator
Moderator
Joined: 22.09.2006
Finally found the time to read my way through

I'd like to comment on a few things:

Originally posted by brobz
Good play does not always mean getting your money in as a 60:40 or 70:30 favourite. As we have already seen the odds are cruel and vicious and you would not expect to win 60% of your 60:40 shots this month.

The way that the best players beat the game, the odds and the xxxx is by beating their opponents, not by taking marginal edges and hammering them (ok, some players do do this and with varying degrees of success depending on the volume of hands they play and their bankroll management/discipline). If you asked any six figure winner on PKR what the secret of their success is then I guarantee you that not one of them will say racing with 60% edges.
While avoiding coinflips (50:50) is often a good idea, you should never pass up the opportunity to get it in if you are 60:40 ahead. Your edge can't be big enough to give up edges like this even in early game. If you get it in while being 60% ahead: do it!

Most of the rest is common knowledge I guess. Winning pots without showdowns is good because there is no variance involved. Playing aggressivly if your stack gets lower to avoid blinding out is standard as well.

The author is wrong if he thinks that there is the same kind of variance on all pokersites and that there is no difference between the sites. There are A LOT of differences which can influence your results and lower the variance. For example the general structure (blind levels, starting stack, rake), the other players (worse players --> less variance), the field sizes (smaller fields --> less variance) etc. It is really important to choose a good schedule. Otherwise the variance might get a big problem.

Overall the article is "ok". Nothing new and some wrong informations, but kinda interesting for beginners i guess.

If you have further questions on some particular part feel free to ask.

Regards,
Asaban
• Bronze
Joined: 12.11.2009
Originally posted by Asaban
Finally found the time to read my way through

I'd like to comment on a few things:

Originally posted by brobz
Good play does not always mean getting your money in as a 60:40 or 70:30 favourite. As we have already seen the odds are cruel and vicious and you would not expect to win 60% of your 60:40 shots this month.

The way that the best players beat the game, the odds and the xxxx is by beating their opponents, not by taking marginal edges and hammering them (ok, some players do do this and with varying degrees of success depending on the volume of hands they play and their bankroll management/discipline). If you asked any six figure winner on PKR what the secret of their success is then I guarantee you that not one of them will say racing with 60% edges.
While avoiding coinflips (50:50) is often a good idea, you should never pass up the opportunity to get it in if you are 60:40 ahead. Your edge can't be big enough to give up edges like this even in early game. If you get it in while being 60% ahead: do it!

Most of the rest is common knowledge I guess. Winning pots without showdowns is good because there is no variance involved. Playing aggressivly if your stack gets lower to avoid blinding out is standard as well.

The author is wrong if he thinks that there is the same kind of variance on all pokersites and that there is no difference between the sites. There are A LOT of differences which can influence your results and lower the variance. For example the general structure (blind levels, starting stack, rake), the other players (worse players --> less variance), the field sizes (smaller fields --> less variance) etc. It is really important to choose a good schedule. Otherwise the variance might get a big problem.

Overall the article is "ok". Nothing new and some wrong informations, but kinda interesting for beginners i guess.

If you have further questions on some particular part feel free to ask.

Regards,
Asaban
When I started playing SNGs, a lot of people mentioned that playing big pots with small edges early on in the tournament was a bad idea because you needed to survive to get paid. I was also told that you actually needed LESS equity the more players are still in a 9 man SNG according to ICM (something like 55% equity when all in with 9 players still remaining, compared to around 65% on the bubble, obviously that is equal stack sizes). So, the concept of early survivability in SNGs was misunderstood by a lot of people.

What about the concept of tournament survivability in MTTs? I've heard pros talk about how they didn't want to take a 60:40 flip in a soft tournament because they already have such an edge over the opposition. This goes against my limited knowledge of MTTs in that I believe if you want to make money playing MTTs, you have to play your drawing hands more and take your slight edges in order to accumulate enough chips to get those juicy top prizes, rather than just cashing like you can in SNGs. I also understand that you don't want to get it all in 60:40 if you are winning enough pots before showdown to make up for that. But you surely have to have an amazing edge to be able to not take 60:40 flips? Right now in MTTs I am getting it all in when I have 55%~ equity or so because I want to go on to win the tournament, even in tournaments where the field is very very soft. I have the idea that so much of poker is taking that 55% or 60% equity that you have and absolutely hammering it. And playing enough so that you will eventually beat the variance.

A question then: if I am going to be playing poker for the rest of my life and have very safe bankroll management, should it matter how much variance there is in my game? As I understand it, lower variance should only ever be sought if you have limited volume or limited bankroll. You say variance might become an issue in some cases, is this because you would need an insane volume or an insanely safe bankroll to combat it?

Hmm I think in writing out my thoughts and questions I have answered some of my queries, but I'd still love to hear your input on any of this, as I am just starting to take MTTs seriously.
• Moderator
Moderator
Joined: 22.09.2006
Well, longterm variance is not a big deal obviously. But shortterm you might encoutner swings of 300 BI's and more if you only play mass field MTT's. That is not only bad for your bankroll but at the same time ruins your mindset pretty much. So you should actually be interested to avoid these swings. Therefore you mix your schedule up with some low variance tournaments. They are always good enough to save your day and you will have less swingy graphs because of them

The ROI will obv be a bit lower and I am actually not sure about the hourly. None the less they are good for your mindset which should make up for it.

If you have further questions feel free to ask

Regards,
Asaban
• Silver
Joined: 27.09.2009
Originally posted by Asaban
Well, longterm variance is not a big deal obviously. But shortterm you might encoutner swings of 300 BI's and more if you only play mass field MTT's. That is not only bad for your bankroll but at the same time ruins your mindset pretty much. So you should actually be interested to avoid these swings. Therefore you mix your schedule up with some low variance tournaments. They are always good enough to save your day and you will have less swingy graphs because of them

The ROI will obv be a bit lower and I am actually not sure about the hourly. None the less they are good for your mindset which should make up for it.

If you have further questions feel free to ask

Regards,
Asaban
Solid, could not agree more.

+1 million
• Bronze
Joined: 07.06.2011
Originally posted by Asaban
Finally found the time to read my way through

I'd like to comment on a few things:

Originally posted by brobz
Good play does not always mean getting your money in as a 60:40 or 70:30 favourite. As we have already seen the odds are cruel and vicious and you would not expect to win 60% of your 60:40 shots this month.

The way that the best players beat the game, the odds and the xxxx is by beating their opponents, not by taking marginal edges and hammering them (ok, some players do do this and with varying degrees of success depending on the volume of hands they play and their bankroll management/discipline). If you asked any six figure winner on PKR what the secret of their success is then I guarantee you that not one of them will say racing with 60% edges.
While avoiding coinflips (50:50) is often a good idea, you should never pass up the opportunity to get it in if you are 60:40 ahead. Your edge can't be big enough to give up edges like this even in early game. If you get it in while being 60% ahead: do it!

Most of the rest is common knowledge I guess. Winning pots without showdowns is good because there is no variance involved. Playing aggressivly if your stack gets lower to avoid blinding out is standard as well.

The author is wrong if he thinks that there is the same kind of variance on all pokersites and that there is no difference between the sites. There are A LOT of differences which can influence your results and lower the variance. For example the general structure (blind levels, starting stack, rake), the other players (worse players --> less variance), the field sizes (smaller fields --> less variance) etc. It is really important to choose a good schedule. Otherwise the variance might get a big problem.

Overall the article is "ok". Nothing new and some wrong informations, but kinda interesting for beginners i guess.

If you have further questions on some particular part feel free to ask.

Regards,
Asaban
+1
• Basic
Joined: 05.06.2012
awesome thread for someone stuck in a playing rut
• Bronze
Joined: 22.06.2009

300 BI swings?

I play 2 years now and had only 2000+ tourney under my belt with an avg filed size of 2000 and in a micro stakes (Avg 5\$).
I know this is just small size but lot of experience.
I never seen such a big swings... I have friends who played 14,000+ tourney on various sites and he never suffers more than 80 BI down swings...
I also keep my eye on some constantly wining player in MTT and never seen more than 80-100 BI swings...

My opinion is if you are having more than a 100 BI swing in MTT u really should think about what you are doing because stg is not OK.
And if you are manage to lose 200BI in a row, i think u really should start learning stg from this site

But 300??? I cant even imagine that

This is just an opinion...
• Moderator
Moderator
Joined: 22.09.2006
300 Buyin downswings are possible and not even outstanding.
I don't know which players you watched - but every player (or at least most players) that has a significant samplesize suffers 100 BI downswings from time to time. 100 BI's are literally nothing in MTT's. You can even drop 100 BI's in 180men MTSNG's without doing anything wrong within a short period of time.

Since most stars mtt's have a few thousand players the swings are a lot bigger. I know many pro's who suffered 300 BI downswings. Some of them more then once. Might be leaks in some cases - but 300 BI's are absolutely possible even if you play it perfectly.

Regards,
Asaban
• Bronze
Joined: 15.06.2009
Like the others replying, I'll have to digest the original post for a few weeks before really being able to have something to say. Besides, I'm not a pro or a regular. I'm just a loser.

But, I do know the math!

In the second paragraph in post #1, there is a coin-flip example. In a 1 000 000 toss series, I'd not expect to see very many 950:50 subseries (or worse).

Can you present a calculation? I have done this particular calculation once bofore, but I don't remember the exact formula. It obviously involves summing over binomial coefficients (n over k) multiplying (1/2)^1000000 (probability of one particilar 1 000 000 tosses long series). The (n over k) thing represents the number of ways of shuffling around one exact (like 490 heads, 510 tails) outcome among the possible ones. The numbers involved in the calculation (like 1 000 000 factorial) are huge, so that an approximation is probably necessary.

Now, the thing that will have a serious impact on the probabilities when it comes to tournaments is that they aren't modeled by coin-flips with a fair coin very well. For one thing, the coin is skew, and has a lot more faces than two unless you play head-up Sit&Go's.

Besides, skill is a factor. At least a priori, and if the blinds are reasonable at the final table. (I don't consider using a Nash table - or whatever - skill. Everybody playing higher than \$1 use them) This factor is hard to quantify.

I'm not arguing with you. I can't! (Because i haven't read your initial post yet

/Johan =