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Variance...how long can it last?

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  • Variance...how long can it last?

    Hello
    Ive been playing for some time now and I am more or less a break even player... i think. The reason i say I think, its because I am not sure if i have played a large enough sample of tours to know if thats true
    I read an interview of a supernova elite player who is crushing the 45 man turbos and said a couple of things about variance. He was in a big downswing and after putting in huge volume he was break even after 20.000 sng's!
    My goodness! Thats about all the tours i have played in total(turbo,regulars, hypers, 6-360 man, etc...)
    Anyway, from time to time, i look him up on sharkscope to see how he is doing, and in the last 8-9K(thats thousand!) of tours he is still break even !
    Someone who doesnt play that much( the guy I am talking about is playing about 500/day), how does he know if he is a winning player or not? How does he know if he is, or not, in a downswing( or upswing)?
    Can anyone tell me if someone has ever been in a huge downswing and started questioning himself? And what did you do then?
    Or whats the most extreme "story" of downswing you have heard or read about?
    Last edited by Espada_Nu.4; Tue Nov 26, 2013, 04:30 PM.

  • #2
    On the player in question,just keep in mind that he may be "break even" in the actual game play results,but that this is plenty good enough to achieve a nice tidy profit from the rake back earned as a SN Elite. My guess would be that he realizes that he's just good enough to be roughly neutral as to expected results in his grind game of choice and accepts this happily,knowing that he's making more on rake and rewards alone than 99% of the players on this site make period.

    Indeed,after nearly 30K games (if I'm reading your post correctly) I think it's safe to say that instead of variance (which in 30K plays the player in question has seen a boat load of,both + and -,most likely...)it would seem that much like water they have found their level in these games and the results are what they are...break even.

    As to how long variance can last...variance is random and by it's very nature therefore is timeless. It's always there,both for good and bad. Proper BR management and making more good than bad decisions both help to blunt it's effect,but nothing can make it go away.

    Try to wrap your head around this being a GOOD thing (luck is what keeps the fish coming back after all).
    Last edited by Moxie Pip; Tue Nov 26, 2013, 09:54 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Moxie Pip View Post
      On the player in question,just keep in mind that he may be "break even" in the actual game play results
      He has an ROI of 8.8 in over 300K games
      Average profit 0.45/tour

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      • #4
        The question in the title is kind of a non-sequitur. Variance is the random deviation from expected results. It therefore lasts forever, by definition, as Moxie pointed out. You can run above EV or below for 1 hand, and you can ran above or below EV for 1000 billion hands. In short, "variance" does not equal "downswing", although poker players often use the terms interchangeably. (When players are winning, they usually put it down to good play, but when they lose, it's "because of variance". )

        Theoretically speaking, it's possible for someone to lose every single coin-flip they ever take, forever and ever amen. The likelihood of that happening to you in particular is vanishingly small, but it's still a possibility. I would imagine there have been thousands of players that made an online deposit, and found they literally could not win a hand, just because of sheer bad luck. Many of these players might have gone on to be winning players, but because they randomly got hit with a bad streak of variance at the start of their "careers" and went busto, they may have given up immediately, before they had a chance to experience any rungood.

        In games where you might have a very small edge, such as in hyperturbos, you're at a greater risk of long downswings. You therefore have to play a very large amount of them to get an idea of your ROI. In lower variance games, where your edge might be higher, you'll still get downswings, but they won't last as long.

        Originally posted by Espada_Nu.4 View Post
        Can anyone tell me if someone has ever been in a huge downswing and started questioning himself? And what did you do then?
        Or whats the most extreme "story" of downswing you have heard or read about?
        In 9-man STTs, barren spells of 20 games without a cash are quite common.
        In cashgames, I've had a few downswings and breakeven periods lasting over 10k hands (a very small sample in poker terms), and that really messed with my head. I came close to quitting the game completely a couple of times. The biggest 2NL winner of all time, Nathan Williams, had much longer swings. In a blog a couple of days ago, he spoke of a 100,000 hand downswing (at 25NL, I believe), which led to him take a few months off to get his head straight. I definitely recommend taking breaks if poker is affecting your emotionally. Taking some time off and doing some studying won't make variance go away, but it might help you deal with it better when you come back.
        Last edited by ArtySmokesPS; Tue Nov 26, 2013, 10:46 PM.
        Bracelet Winner

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Espada_Nu.4 View Post
          He has an ROI of 8.8 in over 300K games
          Average profit 0.45/tour

          If that's the case I'm pretty sure he's not sweating this 30K game run of break even,it's only 10% of his overall results. Plus we don't KNOW that it's just variance,it could be that he's made changes to his playing style or any number of non-variance related factors that led to these results in this 30K game sample.

          Arty's examples of Nathan Williams and himself are instructive here. To my thinking two of the biggest breakthroughs one can ever have as a poker player are...

          1: Accepting that variance is real and that it is random and comes in forms both good and bad.

          2: Then embracing variance as a GOOD THING,because if poker were like chess and the more skilled player always won,then the bad players would stop playing,which would be the worst bad beat ever.
          Last edited by Moxie Pip; Tue Nov 26, 2013, 10:59 PM.

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          • #6
            Great thread, anybody that has been playing a while has had downswings. My longest was 3 months am surprised am still around. I just stuck to good br mgmt and was not afraid to drop levels until it turned around.umbup:
            "A weak player may be a nit but a nit is not necessarily a weak player"

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