Variance is the downswings and upswings that come when playing poker. More specifically, it’s the difference between how much money you expect to win in the long term and the results you experience in the short term. For instance, if you expect to win $1000 in a month on average, but you end up losing $1500, that instance is described as variance.
It’s common to hear poker players complaining about variance. They consider it a period of bad luck. Even for skilled players, who make tidy profits every month, they can easily find themselves taking losses in the short-term due to variance. Fortunately, it’s possible to take steps that will reduce your chance of having a disappointing run. Here are some steps you should take to minimize variance.
1. Choose Your Games Wisely
If you find yourself in a position where you are facing eight good players, your chances of winning reduce drastically. However, if you are playing against recreational players, you are more likely to emerge victorious. These two scenarios have a huge difference in variance.
To make more money and minimize losses, it’s no secret that you need to play with worse players than you. This doesn’t mean you have to always look for very weak players. Playing with stronger players can help you improve your skills, but you shouldn’t expect huge wins. The fact is when your opponents match your skills or are better, your success rate drops.
The best way to identify weak players is by regularly playing poker. This can enable you to tell players who don’t have a good technical grasp of the game when selecting a table. In an online game, you have the option to color-code a weak player so that you can easily identify them the next time you play.
2. Prepare For Your Games & Be The Best Version of Yourself
Before entering an online game, make sure you are at your best condition. If you are undergoing a stressful situation that may distract you or make you lose focus, you should postpone playing. To help you perform at your best at all times, you need to prepare your mental and physical state. This includes;
- Getting ample sleep and rest. Sleep refreshes your mind, eliminates fatigue, and improves your focus and decision making. For best results, create a sleep routine where you sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Play with a full stomach. Playing when you are hungry can dip your performance, especially when your session lasts long. An hour or two before you start a game, make sure you have a satisfying and nutritious meal. Food and nutrition play a direct role in your success. During game time, drink water to stay hydrated and improve alertness.
- Maintain an active lifestyle. Your physical condition matters when it comes to poker. Exercising regularly can relieve anxiety, give you sharper memory and thinking, and improve your self-esteem. Thirty minutes before a game, do some light exercises to boost your blood circulation and kick-start your brain.
- Create the right environment. If you are playing online (learn more about online on sites like Comeon), make sure you get rid of all distractions. This includes switching off T.V, muting your phone, closing windows and doors, removing pets from the room, and informing everyone in your home that you are playing.
- Warm-up. Just like other games, you also need to perform some warm-ups in poker in order to be in the right frame of mind. You can analyze a couple of hands, review your last online session, or read or watch a video on some strategies.
3. Quit Playing at the Correct Time
It’s not wise to play when you are feeling unwell. Equally, it’s a bad idea to continue the session when you feel that your concentration is low. In such a situation, it’s best you take a break and return afterward or quit the session. Leaving the table at the right time can save you money and reduce your variance. However, premature quitting can also hurt your chances of success.
Although knowing when to quit is a skill that is developed over time, you should know that you don’t have to quit just because you’ve lost or won the first few buy-ins. As long as you can keep calm and maintain your concentration, keep sitting at the table. Continuing when you are playing poorly will increase your losses and quitting too early when you are winning, will cost you in the long run.
To decide the optimal time to quit, assess whether you are feeling tired, angry, frustrated, or you are no longer playing your top-game. Such negative emotions may be caused by successive losses, annoying opponents, or playing for far too long. When you realize that your mind is thinking of other things other than the game, it’s time to walk away.
To reduce your poker variance and boost your win rates, you need to work on your game continuously. This includes not only your strategy but also your preparation. Practice good table selection, prepare your mental and physical state, and learn when to quit.