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What do online poker players and casino grinders have in common?
If you answered “nothing” then you’d be wrong because there is one very important problem both sets of players have to deal with and that’s variance.
While it would be nice if you could simply make the best move in each situation and walk away with a profit, the flow of good and bad luck is sadly there to ensure that this isn’t the case. When you ante-up and play poker or casino games at betfair or one of its many iGaming peers, you’ll always be at the mercy of variance. Because of this, it’s important to understand what variance is and why you should ignore it.
In technical terms, variance is the statistical distribution of results around an expected mean. In less technical terms, this notion of variance refers to the fluctuation of results during the course of each session as well as multiple sessions.
Because variance can swing both ways it will mean that sometimes you’ll get lucky in certain situations and sometimes you won’t. However, it’s how you deal with it in both instances that will determine how much you really win at the roulette wheel, the blackjack table or, indeed, the poker table.
When variance is on your side it may seem as though you’re a world beater and that every move you’re making is correct. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. In fact, positive variance can mask a number of mistakes and, therefore, cause you to lose a lot of money in the long run.
Conversely, when variance is against you it may feel like everything you’re doing is wrong. This has two consequences, you take more risks and you stop making moves that are +EV. Taking too many risks is always financially dangerous, but to mistake a +EV move for a -EV move because of variance is a problem that will blight your profits for a long time.
Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about variance as it’s a natural part of poker. However, by simply understanding it from a logical perspective you can improve your game. By not allowing it to affect your decision making process, you can then focus your mind on the important stuff such as making the right move. Whether that’s three-betting pre-flop or doubling down against a weak dealer, you should constantly be striving for perfection away from the shadow of variance regardless of whether you’re playing poker or a casino game.
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