Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

The Mental Toll of Tournament Poker Variance - LOL Donkaments

In the 2nd installment from the world of smaller stakes online tourneys, Matthew 'Yorkshire Pudding' Pitt reflects on the subject of variance.

When poker is going well for you and variance is on your side, it is the best game and easiest game in the world. Your pocket pairs flop sets all the time, your draws come in with alarming regularity and you can read your opponents like you can see their hole cards.

Unfortunately, when variance is not working with you the exact opposite is true. Negative variance, which is common in tournament poker, is about as welcome as your mother-in-law on a hangover-filled Sunday morning. Yes, it is that bad.

poker tournament varianceAs a tournament player, you have to be able to disassociate yourself from losing because you almost guaranteed to lose every time you play a tournament. Some of the very best tournament players in the world only cash in 12-15% of the tournaments they enter, they hope they finish high enough in the money places when they do cash to make up for these times.

In 2012 and the start off 2013 I ran like sweet baby Jesus and bagged some big scores. Within three months I chopped the $3.30 rebuy at PokerStars for $3,200; came 11th in a GSOP event for $3,567 and then won a GSOP event for my career-best cash of $5,369. Life was good. I was planning on playing more tournaments than ever before and maybe, just maybe, I had a chance of going semi-pro or even pro. I got ahead of myself.

The last couple of months have seen me go on a horrible downswing where I can’t do anything right, and believe me I have been trying. I have burst more bubbles than an overenthusiastic three-year old at a birthday party. Whenever I get my chips into the middle with top set, I fist pump the air in celebration only to see the board run out runner-runner flush. If you want to win plenty of chips, come and find me at the felt because I could lose money betting on a one horse race right now.

“How badly can you run?” I hear you ask. My reply is simple, think about a dark place where you have run worse than you thought was humanly possible. One where nothing you do is correct. One where your confidence is ripped out, thrown onto the floor and stamped on. One where, you get the idea.

“So why do you put yourself through this? Why play tournaments at all?” Because, my friend, these bad runs do not last forever and when poker is going well for you and variance is on your side, it is the best and easiest game in the world.

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