I want to talk about Variance but before I do, let me summarize my goings on over the past day.






I finished my 20x 45-Man 25c Sit & Go's, staked with $5.00 to complete the run, 50/50 profit share after stakeback.

I managed to cash 5 times collecting $9.06 in prize money.

The buy-in cost was $5.00, so total profit for this 20x run was $4.06. I split this 50/50 so my cut is $2.06.


My average placing over the 20x games worked to be 14, same as my performance over the 10x games and appears to be consistent. I need to improve this if I want to cash more often.


I played in a couple of freerolls and managed to add 75c to the profits shown above so my bankroll at this point is $5.88.


OK, so lets talk about the Magic word for the day : VARIANCE.


Variance is a word that is used a lot in Poker and Bankroll Management and whilst most people know what it means, it is a foreign term to new players so I thought that I would explore how Variance has effected my game recently.


Variance is another way of saying "You will lose some of the time and win some of the time and you need to figure out how big of a downswing you could run into for certain games so that you don't disrupt your bankroll"

Variance is often shown as a multiple like x10 or x20. This is to signify how many games you can expect to play in order to get a return on investment.

IE : A Variance of x20 means that you should expect to play 20 games to see a good sample of wins and losses to judge good performance.

Games like turbos increase your Variance and you need many more games played to turn a profit.


So why should we consider Variance when playing games?

Simple enough... if somewhere, someone is suggesting you increase your variance to say x50 for a certain game, you can not expect to play 10 games and see a good return for your money. You might win but chances are if you are playing just 10 games, you could lose the first 10 and without accounting for another 40 matches, you could get stuck.

By using Bankroll Management, if a game has a variance of x50, you really don't want to be playing unless you have a minimum of 50 buy-ins for that game.

This means that if a standard $1 game is suggesting a x20 variance and a turbo version of that same game is suggesting a x50 variance, to play normal speed you should have $20 or more but to play the turbo you really need to have $50 or more.


You can of course ignore Variance but just like ignoring good bankroll management you could end up getting stuck wasting your money because you didn't give yourself a long enough run to return your investment.


The reason I bring up Variance is that immediately after playing the 20x games I did for my stake run, I decided to blast through 10x more games, same buy-in and field with my new bankroll.


I consider a 25c 45 man normal speed to be between 10x and 20x variance, so with the bankroll I have, ideally I want to have 20x buy-ins before I begin a run but for the moment I just wanted to try a 10x run.


I played the first 8 games and nada. Nothing, no ITM at all... Considering my last x20 run I averaged a cash every 3-4 games, I was running behind here and this is a CLASSIC reason why you should consider Variance.

I had 2 games left in my run and I cashed in 4th and 6th in those last 2 for a total of $1.91 prizes.


So for a 10x run, $2.50 went in, $1.91 came out. This is a classic example of why 10x Variance is not always going to be enough, I could have easily got stuck here and lost my last 2 games leaving me -$2.50 with 0 cashes. If however i had spread my run over 20, I could have lost the first 10 and recovered my losses during the following 10 and brought myself to a positive.


So please, no matter what limits you play at, consider your Variance.

As a rule, don't play Turbos unless you have a good x50-x100 the buy-in as a bankroll because without series skill in these games, you could play 50 games without a single cash and that kind of variance could be very normal.

If you are unsure if it is worth playing a certain game/limit/speed, ask a friend or consider asking the question in the PSO forum where you will get solid advice to what kind of limit, game type and speed your bankroll should be able to handle.


I didn't fully explain at the beginning of this blog but i had a nice $100 in my bankroll, i got stuck because i threw myself into $7 then $15 then $30 headsup games, chasing losses and before I knew it, I was down to the felt.

I knew all about Bankroll Management, Variance and how to manage my money but I was on a bit of a tilt and went on a bit of a bender. I regret it 100% now and if I had stuck to the levels I should play, the max limit I should have been playing was $1... playing more than that not only hurts my variance but I am playing WAY above my skill level.

This type of play is the same as the gambler cashing in his paycheck for the month and betting it on the 2-1 at the racetrack. Its stupid and whilst you might get lucky, you probably wont and you end up feeling sick to your stomach for the mistake you made.


I am starting from scratch with $0, playing with borrowed money and aiming to improve my Bankroll from the ground up... I am really hoping that some of my words help newer players from getting stuck the way I did.

Bankroll Management is really the best skill any player has.


The famous Stu Ungar was a Viper with the game of Gin or Poker, a World Champion who would turn up to WSOP main events, 50% and still win it.

That being said, he was a gambler and would take his large dollar winnings in these tournaments and walk over to the sportsbook and bet it all on a loser.

Can you imagine spending hours flaunting your world leading expertise at the card table, winning the top cash prize and losing it 1 minute later because you couldn't control your gambling?



Whats next?

Well I am still quite low so continuing with these Micro's is my best bet. I am waiting to see if my kind friend will consider a fresh stake, I am happy offering 50% of my action if it helps me improve my bankroll but if not then I will continue with my plan to seat in freerolls and grind out the small bankroll I have to slowly increase my Bankroll.


Look at it this way... patience in building your Bankroll teaches you more patience at the tables. If i know it is going to take me a while (perhaps weeks or months) to get to my first $100 goal, I am in no rush and don't need to throw my place away when playing the Micro's on marginal stupid hands for a quick double-up... slow and steady!


Day : 3

Bankroll Summary : $5.29 / $100 (5% done)


Additional : I noticed a comment from a member stating that considering an average position is not something that is important... getting to the top 3 spots is all you should care about and I wanted to respond to the comment here


I agree with you, you should never aim to be just +1 bubble or for anything below top 3 spots. If it is a choice between getting ITM or making a move to catapult yourself to a higher spot, its no choice at all.

I have heard of players fold AA on the bubble because they knew it was either fold or all-in, and they were weak chipped and folded so they could cash. I couldn't believe people would do that but its players like this that refuse to play anything at bubble play that allows the smarter player to chip up through them by stealing their blinds.

My average position stat is not used to determine performance for cashing in, getting ITM or anything other than to just show me what I am doing to improve my game at the micro level.

By seeing my average position change from 20 to 14, I am able to notice a significant improvement in my ability to play tight during the early stages as well as looking to cash more often as the game gets deeper. If this stat got worse, regardless of my possible luck in cashing in, I would have to reign in some of my more careless plays the next games I play because for me, getting the furthest in a Tournament, in every Tournament is the goal and if I make this happen, the cash will follow.

To ignore this in these micro's when people are learning the game, simply focusing on a win/loss ratio doesn't give that player any way of knowing if he did better today than yesterday.

What if a player cashes 1/20 on Monday and 1/20 on Tuesday, on Tuesday he felt he had a better performance but from these stats they look identical. On Tuesday he placed average 12th and on Monday his average was 26th.

It is clear by using the average in this example the player can easily say "I was lucky on Monday, I played bad and managed 1 cash but overall my play was poor" and "I played well on Tuesday, i still need to improve because 1/10 cashes isn't fantastic but i am happy my placing has improved"

I don't expect players to use this type of stat as they progress since simple ITM % or ROI is simple enough but knowing if you are wasting your time, need to practice more, need to study more are big questions that new players should be asking themselves and without a way to judge this, they won't improve.


People are free to use the average stat to track their progress or not, I certainly don't recommend it as the only thing to consider but in an enviroment where we are surrounded by odds, huds with 3bet %, VPIP's, pot odds, out % etc etc, one more stat doesn't hurt does it?

I do think it shouldn't be used on its own. Playing in a field that is ITM at position 7, you want to cash as often as you can but if your average placing is 8th, that sounds quite good.. but if that resulted in no cashes and actually translated to you finishing 8th EVERY game you played, chances are you aren't taking enough plays to chip-up and focusing too much on the bubble...

The average stat needs to be used along side other things like win/loss ratio's and I wouldn't expect anyone to say "Well, I didn't cash anything over a 100 run of micros BUT, baud2death told me just to look at the Average Stat, so i did and I averaged 10th... thats better than he did, and he managed to get some ROI... why didn't I then?"

Poker is a game of odds... I say odds are that if you are placing 10th on average instead of 20th that you are playing better with that 10th average and whilst you might not be cashing each time, if your play is consistent the luck should balance out and you should see more cashes as this average improves.