Seriously, how do you guys deal with variance???

    • Wurble
      Wurble
      Silver
      Joined: 04.04.2009 Posts: 456
      OK, I've read more poker strategy in the last year than I care to admit to anyone outside of the poker community. I know the theory behind a good game, I know that variance exists and that it can be brutal. Of course I know, because I've read it hundreds of times from hundreds of different sources and every single one, basically, has said DON'T UNDERESTIMATE VARIANCE.

      So why then do I always underestimate variance? I guess a lot of others are in the same boat, maybe I'm just not cut out for poker.

      I've played like 4000 sng's, 100's of MTT's and easily 200k hands of cash. I do well for long stretches of small peaks and troughs but with a steady increase to my account then BOOM. I can't win a hand for what seems like an eternity... I'm thinking that suddenly I don't know how to play, everything I do is wrong, maybe my success was just positive variance and actually I just suck at poker.

      The problem is, I play micro's with a real abc game so surely I can beat these in the long run...

      I look at the stats of serious grinders, they beat whatever game with a small roi or bb\hands ratio but they play like 20-30 tables and turn a decent profit... They must be playing an abc game... They don't have time for reads or funny stuff, just straight forward rely on everyone else making more mistakes than them over 1000's of hands.

      So how the hell do these people and all other long term profitable players deal with variance and just how bad does it get?
  • 33 replies
    • JackxxRatt
      JackxxRatt
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      Joined: 18.07.2007 Posts: 116
      I basically have the same problem. I go through phases where no matter what I do I just cant win a decent sized pot in the cash games, any pot that goes above 20+bb's just sees the suck out, or I have to lose a couple buy-ins before I win a couple back. I'll be a buy-in or so up on a specific table then get caught set over set, flush over flush etc. This can go on for 1000's of hands then suddenly it'll just change and I'm back to winning again.

      I still haven't found a surefire way of overcoming it, I just keep money on many different sites and alternate between them. At least if I'm winning on one then I can say it's not my game lol. I'll also switch between cash NLHE & PLO and tournaments so if it is my game that's off, I'm not continuing the same mistakes. Constant reviewing of hands, reading forums, watching videos etc all help too.
    • Atoks
      Atoks
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      Joined: 01.06.2008 Posts: 1,354
      Dealing with variance is exactly the test, at which most of the prospective poker players, that could turn into profitable players, but don't, fail. Looking back through my experience, the reason I did it make it sooner is simple, I wasn't able to deal with those crucial bad beats that u get in series which send ur BR from 55BI down to 50BI instead of 60BI. This is key for those who want to make it (once u master the game and plug the biggest leaks ofc).

      We all have of dealing with variance and tilt (they are connected regardless of how much one will argue that they don't tilt). Some find it sooner, some later, others never. Dealing with it takes time, effort and desire to improve on the things u've already tried, but didn't get the needed result from.

      There is no direct solution to this problem. I (have) always deal/t with this (slightly) differently. I try to get through these times in a better way every time I face them. Maybe such an approach can also help u and others reading.
    • nathanrenard
      nathanrenard
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      Joined: 09.02.2009 Posts: 816
      If you're playing No Limit Hold'em and even worse Pot Limit Omaha-8, you're down to have a new 'friend' called variance.

      You can try playing limit hold'em or limit omaha hi-lo and stuck there awhile as the variance is way smaller.

      Reviewing old hands, and posting them in the forums could and WILL help you see if the downswing are just role of variance.

      Try a playing a little limit hold'em, you'll find a lot of answers there, keep in mind a 2BB/100h is a good positive expectation. And playing them a lot could get you loads of $$ :s_cool:
    • LukasGunther
      LukasGunther
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      Joined: 01.12.2009 Posts: 12
      Originally posted by nathanrenard


      You can try playing limit hold'em or limit omaha hi-lo and stuck there awhile as the variance is way smaller.

      Try a playing a little limit hold'em, you'll find a lot of answers there, keep in mind a 2BB/100h is a good positive expectation. And playing them a lot could get you loads of $$ :s_cool:


      LMAO!!!! I think you have it back words my friend. Limit is the more variance oriented game. Even just doing logical thinking without all the analytical stuff would tell you this. Lets take a look at similar NL and limit games. 1/2 No limit and 5/10 limit. Both are usually entry type games. Buy-ins are about the same as well; 200 for each. Lets look at value betting.

      NL

      If I get aces I will raise it the usual 3bb. It can be re-raised to any amount. Also on any street. You get the max value on your hand.

      Limit

      If I get aces I will raise it 1SB. Thats all I can raise it. I do not get as much value. Another issue this brings is suck-outs. People will call a single bet on bottom pair to see if they catch. You can't protect your hand. So while your value betting away people will get lucky catching 2 pair and there was nothing you could have done to protect your hand.
    • EmanuelC16
      EmanuelC16
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      Joined: 02.01.2010 Posts: 13,897
      I'll try to summarize what Atoks said in one word. Correct me if I'm wrong.

      Mindset.
    • themagpiespg
      themagpiespg
      Bronze
      Joined: 23.02.2009 Posts: 280
      Variance happens you just have to get used to it and then ignore it and continue to play your A game, so as EmanuelC16 says get your mind set right then all will be well with the world. Failing that scream obscenities at your monitor for a minute or so it does help make you fell better some times but doesn't stop the variance. :D
    • Atoks
      Atoks
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      Joined: 01.06.2008 Posts: 1,354
      Originally posted by EmanuelC16
      I'll try to summarize what Atoks said in one word. Correct me if I'm wrong.

      Mindset.
      No need to correct. However just summarizing my original post in this thread kind of takes away the point of it. Mindset is pointless if u don't know how to apply it or when to apply it. There's no need to always approach the game with the same mindset or use the same mindset every time u play the game, or even use the same mindset for all the games u play. It may seem like a dumb thing to say but the dynamics of the game always change and so do the dynamics that affect ur performance.

      Understanding poker is complicated. Playing poker successfully over a long period of time and over increasingly difficult levels and understanding why ur able to do that is even more complicated. Meh I've got so many things I could write on the subject it'd prolly take me weeks to put it all into proper words. Yes mindset, but just saying it is oversimplifying and underestimating the nature of the problem.
    • vermifuge
      vermifuge
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      Joined: 03.09.2009 Posts: 2
      i'm more of a tournament player myself, i've gone into more than 15 late stages of tournaments with 4-10 k first place prize, at the final moment, when i was 80/20 %preflop or something like 90% post flop , the variance kills my tournament, in sng's i doo well, get my bankroll up, hit a limit and then can't seem to break through... so yeah , variance is a kill joy, that's why i was thinking to get a job :( (
    • Waiboy
      Waiboy
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      Joined: 18.09.2008 Posts: 4,877
      Originally posted by nathanrenard
      Try a playing a little limit hold'em, you'll find a lot of answers there, keep in mind a 2BB/100h is a good positive expectation.
      2BB/100 makes you my new hero! Anything 0.5BB/100+ is an excellent result in FL. If you're looking for answers to dealing with variance, then FL is great... it'll either harden you up or crush you completely.

      A better alternative is to make sure you read psychology stuff. I always believed it was essentially for folks who weren't very self analytical - but a lot of the stuff in these articles / books deals with dealing with stuff like variance, "downswings", approaching the game, etc.

      Start there IMO.
    • noclaninator
      noclaninator
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      Joined: 01.12.2008 Posts: 312
      What if I told you that I flipped a fair coin 10 times and 9/10 times it came up heads. Would this help you? Would you even care? You certainly know that it is possible for something like this to happen, even likely to get 9 heads in a row if you are flipping the coin hundreds of times.

      So why then do you care if you lose 9/10 coin flips in a poker game (or some similar situation)? I'll tell you why. It is money. You need to train yourself to be able to lose a somewhat large sum without hardly caring. For example if you play NL10 you should be able to lose something like $100 without caring. Of course, easier said than done. If you play a more conservative bankroll management then you will win/lose less money. Imo 20 buyins for a no limit game is a bit aggressive bankroll management anyways. If you try something more like 50 buyins then losing 10 buyins wont be that big of a deal to you. I play $1/$2 shortstack and buy in for $40. A month and a half ago I decided to move up to $2/$4 and $3/$6 but after I lost about $1200 in a short session it made me kind of sick. I'm still playing $1/$2 now (though I am a bit ridiculous shortstacking $1/$2 with an $11k bankroll) the point is you don't have to stick to pokerstrategy's bankroll management plan. These are only "minimum" amounts. I am trying to go pro and the last thing a pro would want is to lose 25% of his bankroll in one session.

      Anyway my 2 cents, good luck to you.
    • JackxxRatt
      JackxxRatt
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      Joined: 18.07.2007 Posts: 116
      Originally posted by noclaninator
      What if I told you that I flipped a fair coin 10 times and 9/10 times it came up heads. Would this help you? Would you even care? You certainly know that it is possible for something like this to happen, even likely to get 9 heads in a row if you are flipping the coin hundreds of times.

      So why then do you care if you lose 9/10 coin flips in a poker game (or some similar situation)? I'll tell you why. It is money. You need to train yourself to be able to lose a somewhat large sum without hardly caring. For example if you play NL10 you should be able to lose something like $100 without caring. Of course, easier said than done. If you play a more conservative bankroll management then you will win/lose less money. Imo 20 buyins for a no limit game is a bit aggressive bankroll management anyways. If you try something more like 50 buyins then losing 10 buyins wont be that big of a deal to you. I play $1/$2 shortstack and buy in for $40. A month and a half ago I decided to move up to $2/$4 and $3/$6 but after I lost about $1200 in a short session it made me kind of sick. I'm still playing $1/$2 now (though I am a bit ridiculous shortstacking $1/$2 with an $11k bankroll) the point is you don't have to stick to pokerstrategy's bankroll management plan. These are only "minimum" amounts. I am trying to go pro and the last thing a pro would want is to lose 25% of his bankroll in one session.

      Anyway my 2 cents, good luck to you.
      It's not as simple as just losing coinflips though is it? For me it's the relentless long periods of utter bad luck. Set over set, flush over flush, 2 pair hands getting rivered, mr donk sits at your table and shoves every hand, you finally get KK and he has AA. None of these are coinflips, just bad luck but when it goes on and on you do end up questioning your ability. I'm currently suffering on FTP, it's frustrating. I'm sure it's not my game (although there's always room for improvement) as I'm doing fine elsewhere. If it was as simple as just losing coinflips then no problem, I'm used to that on tournaments.
    • alenstrat
      alenstrat
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      Joined: 13.03.2009 Posts: 821
      1) Whine in my blog
      2) Hit desk repeatedly and move on - when I explode from a really nasty series of consecutive bad beats
      3) Immediately think/know that over an entire month results will show you are playing well, that gets me back in orbit and into positive thinking - keep working for your goals
      4) Say to myself "let's keep playing good tag poker and start winning some money" if or when I continue playing

      Yeah I hear you, I've gone through nasty variance in MTT's, SNG's and now just recently finally a really bad spell on cash tables. Keep a positive mindset and know that in the long term with a big enough sample and hard work you'll be ahead of the pack.
    • andreibalint
      andreibalint
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      Joined: 11.04.2009 Posts: 872
      For me the most powerful motivator when on a big downswing is :

      "When i get out of this downswing i will be more powerful then before. The bigger the downswing the more powerful i will be".

      Sounds like it's a line from DragonBall, but i really believe in this. This is because if you have a 30BI downswing you feel like crap now, but the next time you have one you will be better since you already experienced it.

      I'm currently crawling out of a 100BI loss (not just a dowswing, i think i really lose money, but combined with absolutely incredible bad luck) for a few months. And i really don't mind. I remembered this when i read this discussion.
    • Wurble
      Wurble
      Silver
      Joined: 04.04.2009 Posts: 456
      Cheers for the replies guys.

      I promise I'm not just having a moan here, I believe that variance and the way I react to it (Badly) is the sole reason I'm not a profitable player.

      I've shown solid ROI's in different types of sng's over good samples and it's the same for cash. The inevitable variance kicks in and I know, really I do, that it's simply normalising my winrate (25% ROI or 30bb\100 hands coming down to more realistic long term levels).

      The problem is that despite my knowing this I still react badly, I tilt and it causes me to play badly and make the 'Variance' 100 times worse.

      Then, to top it off I then go and decide I must play a different format or a MTT with a stupid buy in and of course I donk out because I'm on tilt.

      So then I start a different variant and the cycle happens again. Steady increase in account for a few weeks then horrible downswing, tilt, donk, rinse, repeat.

      Nice.

      So what do I do? I like playing when I play well but I don't intend for poker to be a hobby that just costs me money, I already have one of those, it's called Karting and it costs me a friggin fortune.
    • JackxxRatt
      JackxxRatt
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      Joined: 18.07.2007 Posts: 116
      I dont know what sort of volume you put in per week/month but maybe you should try ignoring your BR and winrates for longer periods. Winrates of 30bb/100 are certainly achievable in the short-term but it's the long-term that really counts. If you're achieving a 30bb/100 winrate over say 10k hands, set yourself a goal of 40k hands and then review. You can still analyse hands at the end of each session etc, just ignore end $$$ results.
    • Tampaloeres81
      Tampaloeres81
      Bronze
      Joined: 08.03.2009 Posts: 1,416
      Hi,

      I play NL SSS CG. winrate 2xbb/100. 15BI swings very are common every some 10k hands. Biggest swing+tilt is 45 BI down in 10k hands :f_cry: I really felt like !@#!@ After a break and other poker variants (MTT/SNG/BSS low stakes for pure fun) I fixed it in the next 10k SSS hands + RB :s_biggrin:

      So deal with by learning, think positive (real hard if nothing works) and getting better :D

      T.
    • Wriggers
      Wriggers
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      Joined: 21.07.2009 Posts: 3,250
      Originally posted by Wurble
      Cheers for the replies guys.

      I promise I'm not just having a moan here, I believe that variance and the way I react to it (Badly) is the sole reason I'm not a profitable player.

      I've shown solid ROI's in different types of sng's over good samples and it's the same for cash. The inevitable variance kicks in and I know, really I do, that it's simply normalising my winrate (25% ROI or 30bb\100 hands coming down to more realistic long term levels).

      The problem is that despite my knowing this I still react badly, I tilt and it causes me to play badly and make the 'Variance' 100 times worse.

      Then, to top it off I then go and decide I must play a different format or a MTT with a stupid buy in and of course I donk out because I'm on tilt.

      So then I start a different variant and the cycle happens again. Steady increase in account for a few weeks then horrible downswing, tilt, donk, rinse, repeat.

      Nice.

      So what do I do? I like playing when I play well but I don't intend for poker to be a hobby that just costs me money, I already have one of those, it's called Karting and it costs me a friggin fortune.
      This is what used to ruin me. I know it seems simple but after a few bad beats your A-game deteriorates, just walk away. I tilted for the first time in ages the other night when I got sucked out on 3 times in quick succession, then I tilted off 2 stacks with QQ on an A high flop, and the same with KK and punched a wall a few times :p. What I did was realise i'd just tilted, shut down all my tables, had a cup of tea and a cigarette, and came back and continued playing.

      It took me 15 minutes and I was ready to play again, it might take you an hour, it might take you 2 minutes. But I strongly suggest learning to realise when you are tilting, and just stop playing. Good luck :)
    • Wurble
      Wurble
      Silver
      Joined: 04.04.2009 Posts: 456
      Originally posted by JackxxRatt
      I dont know what sort of volume you put in per week/month but maybe you should try ignoring your BR and winrates for longer periods. Winrates of 30bb/100 are certainly achievable in the short-term but it's the long-term that really counts. If you're achieving a 30bb/100 winrate over say 10k hands, set yourself a goal of 40k hands and then review. You can still analyse hands at the end of each session etc, just ignore end $$$ results.
      I tend to play about 20hrs a week, anything up to 20 tables depending on how I feel so a fair bit of volume for someone who works as well.

      I realise my winrates have only been decent for reasonably small samples (1000 sngs, 40-50k hands cash) and I know that the variance is simply normalising that winrate... Argh it's so frustrating... I don't want to be the worlds best player or anything, just a small profit for my time would be nice.

      If I had never tilted in the last 18 months I would probably have made a fair few $$$'s by now but I suppose there are a million other wannabe's in the same boat.

      I don't really know what I was looking for when I posted this thread but thank you all for your input.

      I guess if I fall off the wagon this time I should probably call it quits.

      Fair play to anyone who plays profitably through massive downswings... Honestly you guys have some excellent self control\discipline.
    • Wurble
      Wurble
      Silver
      Joined: 04.04.2009 Posts: 456
      Originally posted by Tampaloeres81
      Hi,

      I play NL SSS CG. winrate 2xbb/100. 15BI swings very are common every some 10k hands. Biggest swing+tilt is 45 BI down in 10k hands :f_cry: I really felt like !@#!@ After a break and other poker variants (MTT/SNG/BSS low stakes for pure fun) I fixed it in the next 10k SSS hands + RB :s_biggrin:

      So deal with by learning, think positive (real hard if nothing works) and getting better :D

      T.
      Thanks for this - It actually makes me feel better. Whenever I've dropped 10 buy ins in 10k hands (A few times) it has sent me on super donk tilt mode and I've blown most of my account through stupidity.
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