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By: mute07
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Poker Skill: Understanding Variance

By: mute07 @ 10:12 (EDT) / 414 / Comment ( 1 )

Last month I had one very bad month result’s wise, I talked about it on my previous entry but the main thing about it was how variance played a significant role on how the month ended… Let’s elaborate.

We’re all familiar with the ups and downs we face by choosing to play poker, that rollercoaster is what we call “variance”; but just knowing that word doesn’t really help you if you can’t figure out what it really means. We all try to get better at different parts of the game; me for example I have a little problem adjusting my 3-bet calling range, defending my blind, just to name a few. Up until last month I thought I had a deep understanding of variance and all aspects of my game, until those terrible downswings came. During those moments Jared Tendler did an AMA on reddit and I ask for some advice to overcome that problem, the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi Jared I've read both of your books and all of the information there to me was mind blowing, didn't think there were so many things about the mental part of the game I needed to work with. I'm a recreational player who wants to take the game more seriously moving up the stakes. I've been having the worst couple of weeks and everytime I have a bad session I start to wonder if I should continue or quit playing at all. I used to handle better those bad sessions or bad beats that happen from time to time. What kind of things would you tell me to help me keep motivated and more aware that those things are part of the game? Any other piece of advice? Thanks for doing this and best of lucks to you.

Jared: Hi, thanks. Love to hear it. As a recreational player your knowledge of variance is weak. It's important to think of it as an entire other entity that affects your results. Ask good players about what you can expect, what types of good/bad luck exist so you can learn to spot it. Recognizing variance is a skill and the better you get at it, and the more you accept the reality of what is possible in poker, the easier it will be to stay calm and motivated. The other thing is that you need to look closer at the reasons you play poker. If the only reason you play is to win, you'll experience a lot of pain. But if you enjoy the challenge, like to learn, or whatever, then no matter what you have some way to win every time you play.

Those words really got into me and really helped. I stopped studying just because I thought I had enough to beat 5NL and that’s just not the way you should approach it. I began studying again, reading a lot, re-reading some strategy books I have, watching videos, just trying to get back my love for the game and not to be that results oriented. 

I’m not saying that I no longer feel upset when my Aces get cracked, but I’m learning to overcome that easier and understand that those things are going to happen and is one of the things that make poker the great game it is.

Hope that little piece of text I wrote helps other as much as they helped me, as always all comments are well received. Hope everyone have a great month! Gl on the tables!

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