One of the things that is most difficult for poker beginners to learn is the idea of variance in the game. When you learn poker and get more comfortable with what is going on around you, the losing streaks will be easier to digest. I say easier because it doesn’t matter how long you play poker games for, the losing will still sting a little bit. But what you should know about variance is that it’s about much more than just winning streaks and losing streaks. A bankroll swing, as you might describe it, is a very small-minded way to look at how the game works.
When you play in a poker tournament, you might push all of your chips in with a pair of aces. The guy across from you might be used to playing free poker online, and who can blame the fish when he calls you down with a pair of fours. You’ve probably been in a situation like this before. You’re way ahead, and you can feel the rush of excitement coming over you as soon as he makes the call. Then it happens. He hits his four on the turn, and you’re all but dead.
Poker is a crazy game this way. Sometimes you are going to lose, even when the odds say that you’re an overwhelming favorite. When people say that poker isn’t about luck, they aren’t saying that poker is without luck. It’s just that variance is a short term thing. If you play enough poker, you are going to come out on top.
The way to win in poker is to put yourself in enough advantageous situations over time that they outweigh your losses. Though you might get hit hard by a bad beat on one hand, if you play that same hand the same way enough times, you’ll find better success.
The idea of variance is closely associated with bankroll management, and many people don’t know that before they learn poker on a more advanced level. In order to take advantage of poker and become a winner, you have to play within your means and you have to have enough of a bankroll to withstand the losing runs. If you’re playing above your head, then you probably won’t be able to take advantage of those times when you have a small advantage. You’ll play scared, and scared money doesn’t win at the table. If you keep yourself focused on the big picture and don’t let the losing runs scare you away from playing your normal game, you can have more than you started with at the end of the week, month, and year.