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Understanding Poker Variance

by Reid Young |  Published: Feb 19, 2014

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At the flip of a card, on any given day, any player can beat the best player in the world in poker. Such uncertain outcomes are what draw a lot of players to poker. Even professional players enjoy the intensity and the range of emotion that comes from such risk, as evidenced by the surrounding vernacular; upswing, downswing, busted, running bad. However, most players rarely pause to consider the impact of poker variance on their game, and on the games of their opponents. Even a rudimentary understanding of variance transforms gamblers into thinkers with long-term winning strategies. Win rate is typically described by an hourly rate (like a real job!) or in big blinds won per hour. Most players recognize their win rate as a tidy number. One that is easy to remember and easy to calculate. However, the true circumstances surrounding win rate are quite murky. Experienced players welcome ...


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