Whether it is due to luck, skill, or odds, all poker players will face variance in a negative or positive light at some point during their careers. What is most important is how it is dealt with since the most common outcome is disaster.
Many of you may be thinking, “How are good variances going to result in a disaster?” The answer is simple. You can just as easily overact emotionally to a good situation as you can bad and if you do not know how to handle it, then it is possible to set yourself up for a bad streak or even worse; going broke. So to shed some light on the subject and help you become more aware, here are some tips to dealing with variance, whether it is good or bad.
Yes, it is possible to tilt a little when things are going your way. This will definitely go to the heads of those who “think” they are poker gods, when they are really riding the coattails of lady luck or are due for the odds to fall their way. But regardless of the reason, it is important that you follow a few steps to make sure that your upswing stays positive.
Do not rush off to higher stakes. Just because you won a few games at your current stakes does not mean that you are ready to move up. Poker is more than just having enough money to play at any given stakes, it’s about the skill and mindset combined with being properly bankrolled that will allow you to survive at higher stakes. A player is much better off continuing to play at the current level to see if they are running hot or to see if they have actually improved.
Do not have a bad attitude. There is nothing wrong with being excited about how well you have done. But if you start feeling like you are a better player than every one at your table, is it going to show that you are being arrogant and cocky and your style of play will be similar. Then when an opponent stands up to and knocks you off your high horse, you will feel embarrassed and be more inclined to play on tilt.
Continue to evaluate your game. No matter how good you are, there is room for improvement. Constantly study your hand history and notes to see where you can do things better or differently.
Bad Variance in Poker
Bad variance is a more common situation for poker players. There are so many different reasons for a having a down-swing that if you do not find ways to cope you will end up with results that can be disastrous to your ego and more importantly, your bankroll. Here are some tips to dealing with bad variance.
Do not try to recoup losses. If you try to seek revenge or try to earn back your losses, you are more than likely going to lose more money. This is because you are not level headed and you are not playing your “A” game.
Take a break. If you feel like you cannot play a solid poker game, you are better off walking away from the game. Take as long as you need, as the game will be here when you are ready to return. When you play tilted, you are sure to push yourself even further into tilt.
Do not blame it on bad luck. It is possible to have a bad run of cards. But it is also possible that you have found a leak in your game as well. You are one-step closer to getting on the right track if you can admit to having leaks in your game.
Drop in stakes if needed. You may feel as if dropping in stakes will make you look bad and hurt your ego. But going broke will make you feel that way even faster. If you can find it in yourself to drop down in stakes, you are giving yourself a chance to build a bankroll back up and in the meantime find out why you may be having a down-swing.
Do not drastically change the way you are playing. By over compensating and tweaking your playing style you could be doing more harm than good. Everyone goes through a rough patch here and there and you should first try and find a reason before changing your approach to poker. This is not to say that you cannot try something new, but be sure it is in moderation.
Dealing with Variance in Poker
The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what you are sure to face some kind of variance whether it is good or bad. What will distinguish you from other players is how you handle it and how you try to use those experiences to help you become a better player. By constantly studying your poker game and keeping a level head, you can ride out these levels of variance with very little change to your ego and your bankroll.