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What is variance in poker?

If you are thinking about becoming an online grinder, or even if you just want to play casually you need to understand variance.  Understanding variance can stop you from tilting.

In fact, once you understand it you will know more about why things happen like they do in the game. Here, we will explore a bit more about variance and how it will affect your game.

Poker is essentially a game of skill with a chance element, and variance is the element of chance in the short term. Every player will be affected by variance in the short term. It is not something you can avoid, so understanding it is crucial because it will make dealing with bad beats much easier.

Remember, in poker you want to be getting all your chips in with the higher percentages because statistically if you were to get your chips in every time you played at 70% favourite then you will win 70% of all your hands.

However, if you play in tournaments, and you are involved in three hands where you are a 70% favourite look at this:

First hand: 70% of the time you win.

Second: 80% of 70% you win, and remain in the tournament 56% of the time.

Third: 70% of 56% you win are still in the tournament 39.2% of the time.

Due to variance, in this scenario you are eliminated 60.8% of the time even though you were a huge favourite every single hand. Now this is handy to know because it can stop you tilting. However, it can also make you more inclined not to risk all your chips as often as before, which is generally a good thing.

Once you play thousands of hands the element of chance disappears. In fact, it is estimated that when you play over 1,000 hands, skill becomes a bigger factor than luck.


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