Variance in poker occurs because no matter how good you are, luck will always have a large say in how a game plays out. 

There are lots of variables that a player must deal with in poker. Whether you opt to play Texas Hold’em or Omaha poker, all of these variables – luck included – mean that a player, no matter how good he or she is, can face periods of time where nothing/everything appears to be going right/wrong.

Live poker tournaments, which are more essential for US players right now, as there are restrictions around online poker, are a grind. They require a huge level of concentration, a high degree of poker skill, and the ability to hide tells as well as read others’. And all while avoiding getting hammered on $1 beers.

Added to the tournament buy-in, players must factor in the cost of transport, accommodation and food and drink. That is especially true if players have to travel further afield to be able to play.

With only four states that allow online poker (New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) players may have to travel hundreds of miles to get a game, which isn’t cheap.

Dealing with Variance in Poker

In poker, variance is the measure of uncertainty. So the higher the uncertainty in your play, the higher the variance. The way to deal with variance is to make sure you are careful with your bankroll management and even more careful with your winnings.

Think of winnings as future buy-ins rather than just money to spend on luxuries. Like in any area of life, it pays to be responsible and careful financially.

Treat poker like a job and keep your bankroll managed. The variance will hopefully not be such a big issue if a downswing hits.

Top Tips for Dealing with Poker Variance

  1. Reduce Your Playing Time – If you do anything with intensity for long periods of time, it will have an adverse on you. The capacity to adapt to the stresses of variance will be limited significantly if you are playing four-hour sessions at a time.

    Take some time out to reset and give your mind the best chance to keep the right focus.

  2. Stop Over Analysing – Ok, you may have had a bad run. But obsessing over the recent results of your games is not good. Every game should be played in a way that you are making better choices than your opponents.

    However, if your focus is on the bad decisions that have been made during your low spell, the chances are this will affect the way that you play in your next game.

  3. Improve Your Game – I know what you are thinking, this seems like I am stating the obvious. But, sometimes it is better to focus on getting better at Poker to improve your confidence.

    Naturally, your focus will be on the right path in each game and you are less likely to be focusing on the losses that you have had recently.

  4. Losing Is Not Failing – Just as winning is not all down to personal skill, losing is inevitable due to the levels of variation within the game.

    It would be wrong to look at your playing style and adjust it if you were playing a good game. Stick to the right game plan and your strong game will get results.

  5. Keep On Top Of Your Mental Game – Sounds simple, I know. But it’s essential that you adjust how you react to variance. Try to structure some ways of dealing with variance in a rational way. 

    A good example is forming an irrational need to beat an opponent who has beaten you during your low period. This sort of focus will reduce your chances of focusing on your best game and have drastically bad results for you. Keep your head and stick to your best game.



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