Variance is a Good Thing

zachvac

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So most people by now realize that poker players who play badly are a good thing in the long run. But people are still frustrated when they get sucked out on (myself included once in a while). They curse variance but accept it as a part of poker. But if you asked anyone if they would rather play the current version of poker or poker where there was no luck involved, most would pick the 2nd one. I'll take the current poker all day long.

If poker went so that good players consistently went up and bad players consistently went down, it would be much more obvious whether you were good or bad. If you played poker, barely won a pot, and your graph was a straight line down as time goes on, how likely are you to continue to play poker? So as time went on there would be new bad players but for the most part the good players would continue playing and the bad players would stop because they were broke or realized they were throwing money away (or a third alternative is they'd realize they're bad and get better). Any of these 3 provides an increase in the percentage of good players at a site. Not only that but now that there are only "good" players, the bottom 50% of the "good" players are now bad players, and consistently start to lose. Continue that a few cycles and none but the world class players would be left. They'd beat the new people who came and take some money from each other, but the average winning player now would end up not able to win any longer.

But the way it is now, bad players will remember a time when they won and assume that was the norm. Honestly, how often have you heard of someone who "won x dollars in y days and now I can't win anymore"? Do you really think these are good players? They experienced positive variance and because of that gave it back and more to the poker population. This is true in so many other parts of life. Think of golf. I gave it up as I committed myself to baseball, but when I played I would always do horrible, average 5-6 on each hole, but at the end I'd always remember the one hole that I parred or once in a while actually birdied. This would keep me coming back and I'd never quit when I did horribly because I knew that I COULD do better. Now equate that to poker, they know they CAN win, it's just that in the long run they won't. But they don't understand that so will continue to play, once in a while winning a little and re-enforcing the "fact" that they are a winning player who has bad luck in their head.

And that isn't the end of the amazing good that variance does. If you are a winning player, a bad streak can be extremely stressful on your mental outlook on the game. I know several good winning players who gave up on poker because they simply couldn't handle the swings. And you know what, I'm happy that they do. It's more money for me. Even for people who don't quit, there are countless winning players who tilt a lot of their winnings away during downswings. All this money goes into the general poker population which will tend towards you if you are a winning player. So if you can simply understand variance and the fact that it is your friend, you will make so much more money in the long run.

Variance helps you win money from bad players who wouldn't play otherwise and good players who tilt because of variance. If you are mentally tough and can handle the swings without tilting, variance is the reason you make so much money.
 
Deltafrost

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really good thread, but it always seems its ME that gets sucked on

yes i know, you remember the bad way more than the good.

ill keep todays poker over the luck removed any day!
 
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greener_lax

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wow, really insightfull thread. perfect timing for me too, as i am in the middle of a downswing.
 
Q

quads

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Variance:
A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.
online poker with assorted reasons discussed over and over again, why you will have higher then normal variance when compared to live poker, doesn’t mean you can’t win online.
Let’s forget about big purse tourneys conveniently available online, and just consider playing cash games. Let’s also forget about the elite group that could afford to risk funds in big stakes cash games, where a simple heater could keep you in the game and in the green for a year, with sensible management. Let’s talk about just the average 20 million or so other online players.
Most of us work for a living, (like 98%) and play online when the grinds of a normal live allow us enjoy ourselves. To really work the long term expected outcome online and fight the variance that comes with it, would require an unreasonable amount of time dedicated to it, that most just don’t have.
Having a good time and showing a few hundred or thousand dollar profit for a year is one thing. But to talk like making a living grinding cash games online is easily achievable is pretty much fantasy for most.

Being able to multi-table and expedite long term outcomes by playing 7 to 10 tables at once trying to manage a thousand hands an hour, and showing a profit of $10,000.00 a year, of course is a good thing. But very few of us are capable of doing that in the first place, and certainly don’t have the time.
Most all the pros we know that are famous, became famous for winning the multi-million dollar purse tournaments, and usually more then once. Not grinding cash games.
My point here is to take poker for its face value.

P.S. Have much more to add to this but must rush off to work.
 
Last edited:
Emperor IX

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Amazing post Zach

+++++++rep :D
 
ABorges

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That's an extremely big part of this game that many people don't seem to realize. I actually reached this conclusion myself not too long ago. The fact that the weakest of players can suck out on a good one once in a while is what keeps the poker ecosystem running. That's why instead of lashing out at the fish who just hit his river gutshot against your top set you should just simply say "nh, well played". DO NOT tell him what he did wrong or how much of a crap player he is, it will only either make him leave your table to not be insulted or actually get better at the game. So, it will hurt your profit, hurt every player at your table's profit and you'll just be releasing information about how you play to good players; not a very intelligent thing to do...

So next time you get sucked out on show respect for the other players and be glad you put your money in when your opponent was drawing to 2 outs and miraculously hit one of them when the last card fell.
 
zachvac

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Variance:
A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.
Online poker with assorted reasons discussed over and over again, why you will have higher then normal variance when compared to live poker, doesn’t mean you can’t win online.
Let’s forget about big purse tourneys conveniently available online, and just consider playing cash games. Let’s also forget about the elite group that could afford to risk funds in big stakes cash games, where a simple heater could keep you in the game and in the green for a year, with sensible management. Let’s talk about just the average 20 million or so other online players.
Most of us work for a living, (like 98%) and play online when the grinds of a normal live allow us enjoy ourselves. To really work the long term expected outcome online and fight the variance that comes with it, would require an unreasonable amount of time dedicated to it, that most just don’t have.
Having a good time and showing a few hundred or thousand dollar profit for a year is one thing. But to talk like making a living grinding cash games online is easily achievable is pretty much fantasy for most.

Being able to multi-table and expedite long term outcomes by playing 7 to 10 tables at once trying to manage a thousand hands an hour, and showing a profit of $10,000.00 a year, of course is a good thing. But very few of us are capable of doing that in the first place, and certainly don’t have the time.
Most all the pros we know that are famous, became famous for winning the multi-million dollar purse tournaments, and usually more then once. Not grinding cash games.
My point here is to take poker for its face value.

P.S. Have much more to add to this but must rush off to work.

I won't be too lengthy since you said you had more to add, but if this is what you want, either

1. You shouldn't be too worried about making a profit, since you're not playing very much or are playing for fun

2. Poker is not the game for you. There is no guarantee of short term profit in poker, no matter how good you are.

and you said "to talk like making a living grinding cash games online is easily achievable is pretty much fantasy for most."

I said exactly the opposite, but I said that's why it's good. Poker is a 0-sum game, and with the rake it's even worse. So if it were easy, everyone would do it and the cycle I described in the original post would occur. The very reason poker can be profitable (or anything in life really) is because it's hard but if you work at it you can acheive those hard things. I want poker to be as hard as possible, I want there to be things to throw off other people who won't work hard at it. I profit when I have an edge, and each new challenge presents a potential edge that I can gain when I face it. So is any part of poker easy? Not at all. Is that a good thing? I think so.
 
WVHillbilly

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vn Zach.

Maybe you should add "Zachvac - Helping the statistically challenged since 2007" to your sig line.
 
F Paulsson

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wow, really insightfull thread. perfect timing for me too, as i am in the middle of a downswing.
No, you're not. Downswings don't exist other than as a description of past events. You're not in the "middle" of anything.
 
zachvac

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No, you're not. Downswings don't exist other than as a description of past events. You're not in the "middle" of anything.

lol, this ^^, that was kind of the point of the OP.
 
nevadanick

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No, you're not. Downswings don't exist other than as a description of past events. You're not in the "middle" of anything.

Isn't this just a matter of semantics? I don't disagree with your point, but when you have experienced a downswing for 'x' time, no matter what you do the downswing continues and your most recent efforts have produced no better results and there appears to be no end in sight - sure looks like 'the middle' to me ... :D

OK - maybe 'midst' (defined as: the condition of being surrounded or beset) might be a better choice of words.

PMA (positive mental attitude) doesn't change that either. When Lady Luck has designated you as the bug, the windshield will continue to win. odds and percentages are decent indicators of choices to be made in your play, but of those 10 million hands that determine 'odds', how many times does Lady Luck determine 'who' is on the winning side of the hand?
 
zachvac

zachvac

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Isn't this just a matter of semantics? I don't disagree with your point, but when you have experienced a downswing for 'x' time, no matter what you do the downswing continues and your most recent efforts have produced no better results and there appears to be no end in sight - sure looks like 'the middle' to me ... :D

OK - maybe 'midst' (defined as: the condition of being surrounded or beset) might be a better choice of words.

PMA (positive mental attitude) doesn't change that either. When Lady Luck has designated you as the bug, the windshield will continue to win. Odds and percentages are decent indicators of choices to be made in your play, but of those 10 million hands that determine 'odds', how many times does Lady Luck determine 'who' is on the winning side of the hand?

The point is you cannot see in front of you. Actually you can, and if you are a winning player in front of you looks like a slowly increasing line. You can't talk about seeing the end of a tunnel, because you can't see forward. You only know what's happened so far. You could be in the middle, the end, or even just the beginning. The future is independent of the past, thus there is no way to predict the future based on the past. You cannot know you are in the middle of a downswing ever. You CAN look back and see "oh at this point I was in the middle of a downswing" but you can't know that when it is happening.
 
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greener_lax

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No, you're not. Downswings don't exist other than as a description of past events. You're not in the "middle" of anything.

SORRY, maybe not technically a downswing, i've just been having a bad run of cards lately is all.
 
WVHillbilly

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Do you think losing players praise variance when they win???
 
Q

quads

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I won't be too lengthy since you said you had more to add, but if this is what you want, either

1. You shouldn't be too worried about making a profit, since you're not playing very much or are playing for fun

2. Poker is not the game for you. There is no guarantee of short term profit in poker, no matter how good you are.

and you said "to talk like making a living grinding cash games online is easily achievable is pretty much fantasy for most."

I said exactly the opposite, but I said that's why it's good. Poker is a 0-sum game, and with the rake it's even worse. So if it were easy, everyone would do it and the cycle I described in the original post would occur. The very reason poker can be profitable (or anything in life really) is because it's hard but if you work at it you can acheive those hard things. I want poker to be as hard as possible, I want there to be things to throw off other people who won't work hard at it. I profit when I have an edge, and each new challenge presents a potential edge that I can gain when I face it. So is any part of poker easy? Not at all. Is that a good thing? I think so.


I really think you completely misunderstood my entire post. After personally having great success playing online for years and then of course having one terrible year is not the reason for my usual negative stance against gun-hoe online poker threads. Before I go any further I would like to add that if I decided to grind further with online poker, it would take me years to give back my winnings, based on my BR management along with my strategy, and of course not turning into a full blown idiot. In fact I could even double or triple my present BR if I decided to go for it playing online. With that being said I also would like to add, that most intelligent threads like this one are very much fact, and could be great tips for the internet poker player.

In many of my past threads and posts I expressed great concern why I felt online is becoming a much harder place to be successful. Never said you couldn’t be successful online, especially since I did pretty damn good for myself online, and expect to stay there. I also was fortunate to be playing online early in the poker boom which of course probably added to my success.

Basically what I found especially after the U.I.G.E.A. was passed in “2006”, forcing the congestion of all U.S. players to just a couple of reliable sites is when it started to change.
The majority to include myself obviously choosing Poker-Stars which instantly became and still is the world’s biggest online poker site. Of course all the good players enjoying maybe a free ride at other lesser sites had to come over instantly making it much stiffer in competition. And although many people want to blow off BOT users, and professional collusion teams, they are a big threat and are now all forced into a select few sites. Bot technology has grown to new highs as of today completely undetectable to poker servers, and professional collusion teams are at extreme sophistication. Then we got all kinds of software support programs giving instant percentages and odds, along with storing records of previous opponents past play, making a good players game even easier and the donks we pray for game better then it should be; giving them the chance to get into the union without paying their union dues sort of speak. This along with all the confirmed cheating, (absolute scandal, selling off seats to pros late in tournaments, multi-accounting, and who knows for sure what’s next) This all in my opinion created a variance in online poker that although could still be overcome in time, to realistically achieve substantial financial results is beginning to look bleak. And like I said above, Variance: A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.

We could talk all you want about coin flips getting even sooner or later, but can average bankroll players hold on and wait when there were 1 million heads and only 300k tails. And how about when the player that gets all his money in the pot with the best hand and some donk hits his 1 outter on the river trashing his br. Yet, when it’s his turn for the percentage to strike back in his favor he can’t get 2 cents into the pot. Does that hand count the same as a coin flip. If that happens often enough an average bankroll can’t stay for the ride.

I by no means will ever trash online poker, and could even jump all-in any day. But for now I’m giving live a more serious try.

So, my personal experience I’m trying share with other online players is solely based on my personal experiences as a veteran online player. What I say is nothing more than an opinion based on my facts of flawless records and how I presently view online poker. People that read forums are obviously here for a reason. Reading about my past experiences and opinions doesn’t make what I say poker law. Yet, for some it may be very helpful.

P.S. I could go on much more.
 
NoWuckingFurries

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And like I said above, Variance: A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.
Variance is not the ups and down swings your bankroll goes through.[SIZE=-1]
In probability theory and statistics, the variance of a random variable (or somewhat more precisely, of a probability distribution) is a measure of its statistical dispersion, indicating how its possible values are spread around the expected value....
So for example although we know that statistically AA is the best hand, we may play lots of consecutive hands where it loses, but we know that if we play it a large enough number of times it should end up winning us far more money than it loses us.
[/SIZE]
 
bob_tiger

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thats second good thread i was by you today and i agree again
 
zachvac

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I really think you completely misunderstood my entire post. After personally having great success playing online for years and then of course having one terrible year is not the reason for my usual negative stance against gun-hoe online poker threads. Before I go any further I would like to add that if I decided to grind further with online poker, it would take me years to give back my winnings, based on my BR management along with my strategy, and of course not turning into a full blown idiot. In fact I could even double or triple my present BR if I decided to go for it playing online. With that being said I also would like to add, that most intelligent threads like this one are very much fact, and could be great tips for the internet poker player.

In many of my past threads and posts I expressed great concern why I felt online is becoming a much harder place to be successful. Never said you couldn’t be successful online, especially since I did pretty damn good for myself online, and expect to stay there. I also was fortunate to be playing online early in the poker boom which of course probably added to my success.

Basically what I found especially after the U.I.G.E.A. was passed in “2006”, forcing the congestion of all U.S. players to just a couple of reliable sites is when it started to change.
The majority to include myself obviously choosing Poker-Stars which instantly became and still is the world’s biggest online poker site. Of course all the good players enjoying maybe a free ride at other lesser sites had to come over instantly making it much stiffer in competition. And although many people want to blow off BOT users, and professional collusion teams, they are a big threat and are now all forced into a select few sites. Bot technology has grown to new highs as of today completely undetectable to poker servers, and professional collusion teams are at extreme sophistication. Then we got all kinds of software support programs giving instant percentages and odds, along with storing records of previous opponents past play, making a good players game even easier and the donks we pray for game better then it should be; giving them the chance to get into the union without paying their union dues sort of speak. This along with all the confirmed cheating, (absolute scandal, selling off seats to pros late in tournaments, multi-accounting, and who knows for sure what’s next) This all in my opinion created a variance in online poker that although could still be overcome in time, to realistically achieve substantial financial results is beginning to look bleak. And like I said above, Variance: A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.

We could talk all you want about coin flips getting even sooner or later, but can average bankroll players hold on and wait when there were 1 million heads and only 300k tails. And how about when the player that gets all his money in the pot with the best hand and some donk hits his 1 outter on the river trashing his br. Yet, when it’s his turn for the percentage to strike back in his favor he can’t get 2 cents into the pot. Does that hand count the same as a coin flip. If that happens often enough an average bankroll can’t stay for the ride.

I by no means will ever trash online poker, and could even jump all-in any day. But for now I’m giving live a more serious try.

So, my personal experience I’m trying share with other online players is solely based on my personal experiences as a veteran online player. What I say is nothing more than an opinion based on my facts of flawless records and how I presently view online poker. People that read forums are obviously here for a reason. Reading about my past experiences and opinions doesn’t make what I say poker law. Yet, for some it may be very helpful.

P.S. I could go on much more.

First off I'd like to say that the stat programs are probably good. You have donks who don't know what they're doing all of a sudden think they do because they have this program.

You are basically saying here that you think some people can only play for the short run in poker. I could check, but I'm guessing the odds of winning only 300k coinflips in a million is like .00001%. If you play a couple thousand hands, that's going to be close to the long run. If you only plan on playing like 2k hands in your poker life, you can't expect to win. Poker, live or online, relies on you playing in the long run. I don't know how to make it much more clear. The entire point of playing good poker implies you want to win in the long run. I don't see how live would be any different.
 
Q

quads

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The entire point of playing good poker implies you want to win in the long run. I don't see how live would be any different.


I'll let you know for sure what I think about live after giving it the same shot I gave online. But so far from my experiences, I know my opponents bring to the table the real game they got. No software support giving them odds and percentages, no bot telling them to fold or raise, collusion not even close to what takes place online if any at all. tells, TELLS, TELLS, not just the betting pattern tell, real live human tells. Learning to trust in them has proven to pay off in a big way so far.

I see the long run being much shorter then online. Give me a year, has I have posted my recent results for this year here.

One other question Zachvac. Why do you constantly want to get into a dispute with me? How long have you been playing online and what are your results? Would be very interesting considering you seem to be an expert on many things.
 
aliengenius

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I see the long run being much shorter then online.

Actually it's exactly the opposite. Since you can play so many more hands more quickly on line, you will get to "the long run" MUCH faster playing online than live.
 
F Paulsson

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Actually it's exactly the opposite. Since you can play so many more hands more quickly on line, you will get to "the long run" MUCH faster playing online than live.
In general, though, games online are a lot tougher, so the win-rate will be lower and the variance greater. In that sense, playing live does "shorten" the long run, as in it doesn't take as much time playing to overcome variance. I figure that's what he meant.
 
aliengenius

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In general, though, games online are a lot tougher, so the win-rate will be lower and the variance greater. In that sense, playing live does "shorten" the long run, as in it doesn't take as much time playing to overcome variance. I figure that's what he meant.

Ah.
 
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