Variance Describes The Natural Swings Of Fortune In Results Profits.
Here I Look At How This Works In Poker Tournaments And How To Hedge Against This!
When it comes to profiting from poker tournaments, one thing is for certain – your overall profits will come from a relatively small number of big wins. This is both a blessing and a curse. Your ability to turn a small buy-in into a huge payday, and to use that money to move to the next level is fantastic. At the same time, long dry spells – with a few small cashes between – can make it feel like your bankroll is bleeding away.
There are several ways in which poker players cope with the inherent variance of MTT play. This article covers several aspects, including psychological factors as well as more practical things such as bankroll management and game selection. Poker tournaments can be hugely profitable for skilled poker players – if you are disciplined enough to ride out the swings.
Variance In MTTs – A Bankroll That Can Withstand The Swings!
Bankroll management guidelines often seem crazy to new players, especially those who start with a good run of cards. Pro online tournament players have bankrolls of at least 200 times their 'average buy-in' – and sometimes arrangements with backers to top up if this is not enough.
Hopefully this is an eye opener for many readers. It illustrates that even the best players can go for long spells without a win. If you are going to make poker tournaments your main gain then I will recommend that you have between 50 and 100 buy-ins – even as a recreational player. This protects you somewhat from swings, if you lose half you can always drop down a level or two while you rebuild.
Variance In MTTs – Bigger Games = Higher Variance
If your bread and butter games are those huge field lower level MTTs at Pokerstars, with field sizes in the 1000's, then I recommend you balance this out and fast. With so much of the long-term profit coming from the final table, and such a long and dangerous path to get there you will need a lot of buy-ins to ensure that even a 200x bankroll survives.
Add some smaller games to your schedule, the 180 player SNGs at Pokerstars are a great option – or even enjoy the (far softer) tournaments on other sites. I recommend OnGame's cool Red Kings for this, they have a ton of guaranteed games and field sizes in the 100's instead of the 1000's!
Variance In MTTs – Can You Cope With A Downswing?
Here is a little test, if you have 3 losing nights in a row, do you start to feel pissed off with poker tournaments? Fed up with the suckouts and the donk play? If the answer is yes then poker tournaments might not be the right specialty for you to follow – the variance can go on for weeks or even months. Some players can ride these long dry spells out, knowing that they are making the right plays and that everything will even out in the end… most of us can not.
There are various ways of getting back on track, some SNGs or cash games… a change of site to start fresh for a while or even a break from poker. The key point I wanted to make here is that you need a plan, there is no shame in not being the kind of person who can happily grind though month-long downswing… it takes a unique kind of personality not to get despondant!
Variance In MTTs – Big Rewards For Those Who Crack It!?
If you can focus on play, ride out the swings and keep working on your game to stay ahead of the masses then poker tournaments can be massively profitable.
If you can combine this with some smart tournament selection, looking beyond the big 'obvious' sites at places like the Winning Poker Network which is the go-to for tournaments with a huge recreational poker following – then there is no reason why you could not break through and make it as a pro.
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