I was lucky enough to be going through Carroters – How To Master 6 Max series when the episode on variance came up. In it he explains that most professional players underestimate variance in a drastic fashion.
I am one of those people.
Now before I get started, please understand that I am obviously not blaming previous bad results on variance. Far from it. To get even remotely competent at this game in the long run then you have to put the work in it. This off-table study has never been my strong point and it certainly goes a long way in explaining why I sometimes feel that I have hardly improved as a player in the years I have been playing.
However those days are now past and I am 10 times the player that I was when I first started this journey (that’s probably not saying much). If you don’t believe how much you have improved as a player then I advise you to go replay some hands from your database from 1 year, 6 months or even 1 week ago. I guarantee that if you have put even just a small amount of work in away from the tables then you are likely to be wondering why the hell you played like such a donkey in the first place. This is also very good advice if you are suffering from a downswing and need to be reminded of how much you have improved. Downswings are mentally exhausting and can have a drastic impact on your life outside of poker. Trying to see the game in the long run and how you have improved despite results is imperative to your progress.
Back to this month, and I have been playing well. As always, mistakes keep happening. They are vast and they will give me plenty to work on over the coming months. But those mistakes are becoming less frequent and with fewer mistakes means my ascend to higher stakes will happen.
It’s just a matter of when.
And that’s when variance kicks in. I thought that variance evened itself out over 100,000 hands, maybe 250,000 hands. At that point all the luck has been dwindled away and you’re left with your true win rate and your true outcome as a poker player.
Well apparently even 1 million hands doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.
I won’t dive much into the math side of this, for the simple reason that I haven’t got a clue. But let’s look at my winrate for the past month and run it in a simulator that puts it through a poker variance calulator using standard deviation. Instead of the 35,000 hands I did play, we’ll simulate that I played 1 million at a winrate of 1.6BB/100.
The range of winnings is enormous. In one instance I would win 30047.00BB whilst in another I would only win 4400.00BB. Not to mention the probability of a loss after 1 million hands is a tiny, but still possible 0.0028% (not shown on the graph).
The key takeaway from this, and one of the first things you ever learn when you start taking poker seriously, is to never focus on the results. Ever.
They will simple not give you a fair reflection at any point. The only true thing that ever really matters is the logic behind every decision you make on every given street.
This is much easier said than done, especially to newer players, who only have the monetary results to look at to gauge their ‘improvements’. But as you can see, it can also work quite the opposite.
Image if you were that 0.0028% who had played 1 million hands and came out a loser not knowing that someone who played every single hand the same as you came out as a 30,000BB winner. Results are very deceptive. Logic is not.
And with that I will say that I am progressing nicely. It was a pretty tough ride at times but the one thing I had going for me is that I have been here many times before and I simple know now what I have to do to get past it. Keep working, keep my mental game in focus and eventually everything will turn itself around. Which they of course did.
Now I am waiting to hit my next $50 profit and then I’ll be moving up to $10nl (again)
I am also setting myself preflop, postflop and mental game goals this month. This will help improve me as a poker player in a range of different areas and this makes sure I don’t get bored focusing on one solitary leak.
Also I am still spending a large chunk of my time matching betting and, to a lesser degree, CrytoAssets. I am aiming to invest more into Bitcoin this month but am waiting to have an actual plan rather than aimlessly buying (although that’s probably what I’ll end up doing for now).
And that’s another month done for me
Keep it +EV!
(My new little sign off from now on)