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McSchnitzel's picture
Variance & Bad runs

Hello HUSNG,

I am a winning HU player, but I've never known how to handle variance.
What do you guys do when you are having a downswing? (move down, take a break etc)
How can you reduce your variance playing HU SNG's? And what kind of playing style gives
you the lowest form of variance in HU sng's?

RyPac13's picture
Confidence allows you to

Confidence allows you to handle variance.

If we flip a coin and I pay you $1.05 every time it lands heads and you pay me $1 every time it lands tails and we can play 20-50 flips a day, you would keep flipping coins with me, confident you had an edge, correct?

These games are the same.  You should play a level you have an edge at.  If you're unsure of that due to sample size or a general lack of confidence, take a look at a coach or a peer and get feedback.  Trust them.  Because much like flipping that coin, you'll run bad many times in poker and it will test your confidence.  But have faith, because as long as you keep playing a winning strategy each and every game, you'll be winning a lot in the long run.

The best way to reduce downswing variance is to have a bigger edge.  The best way to do that is to play a lot of focused games and utilize every type of material available to you (friends, videos, coaches, articles, etc.) along the way.  Don't focus on any style.  A 3x raise or limping "style" should not be what you're thinking about.  You should be thinking about how your opponent plays and what is best against that specific opponent.  Therein lies the real edges in heads up sngs. 

You can win minraising 100% of hands against every single opponent in heads up sngs at any blind level probably, at least up until high stakes games.  That doesn't mean it's the strategy that wins you the most money.  So don't berate or look down on people that brag about their "system" or "style" of play.  Use those people to learn from.  Find their weaknesses, find their strengths, but be confident that you're a winner and it'll take a very large downswing to hurt you mentally.

McSchnitzel's picture

Okay, thanks a lot sir.
In my point of view, taking a break is the biggest bs you can do during a bad run,
because the odds will even out anyway, break or not. Right?
But what about moving down when you are running bad? The odds will even out,
but you will be losing a lot less money.. Or am I being stupid?

Newff's picture
A break always helps my

A break always helps my game, saying it is bullshit is 100% wrong in my opinion. During a downswing you will likely be making worse decisions without even realizing it and with a break you should almost always find yourself coming back more clear headed and focused.

ACES15FULL's picture
After playing only HUSNGs

After playing only HUSNGs for the past couple of months I've learned that you are going to take some horrible beats on a regular basis. It sucks but if you put in enough volume the odds will eventually play out. I used to be in the mind frame that "I never suck out how come everyone else does" but if you think about it, the less your sucking out the more your getting it in ahead which is all that matters in the long run. Not to imply that I don't get pissed when QQ loses to K3o but I have won way more in that situation than I've lost.

RyPac13's picture
Schnitzel, Newff is

Schnitzel, Newff is correct.

Unless the downswing does not hurt your decision making, breaks/moving down are usually a good idea.

But say I have a $5000 bankroll and I'm playing the $10s and variance does not bother me at all.

In that case, as long as I'm a winning player, I would never take an out of the ordinary break or move down due to experiencing bad luck, because as you said, my expectation remains the same (and positive).

If you lose five 70-30s in a row, the 6th 70-30 still gives you a 70% chance of winning :)

jackoneill's picture
Well, if you want to reduce

Well, if you want to reduce variance then you could play Regular Speed games instead of Turbos.

However, the downside of this is that I'll reduce your Hourly since you can play less games per hour.  I did this in late February, but quickly started to feel boring - playing a fish for half an hour to win some $3-$4.5 on average per game really suck, and getting sucked out after 29 minutes hurts even more.

ABOMB's picture
"Repetition is the mother of

"Repetition is the mother of all skill"

Usually taking a break works well for me. Thing is that I personally get more frustrated when the sneaky variance kicks in.

For example, you're bluffcatching with A6o on a A38,J, villain leads flop,turn,river with 87 and spikes a 7on the river or something. Or the sneaky variance where you hit the top of people's ranges like all the time. Thats variance that won't be displayed but it is the killing kind because if make the correct play vs the right range (combined with tendencies.meta etc etc etc) but he just happens to have the absolute top 5% of that range leaving you cripled this is what makes or breaks the game.

"Repetition is the mother of all skill"

jackoneill's picture
Very good point. I just

Very good point.

I just realized in today's session how scared I've been in the past - today it seemed like everything was back to normal again, like I tried to get some thin value on the river even after the board got very scary and fish called with absolutely ridiculous holdings - whereas in the past, I sometimes even checked back top set on the river just because some flush was possible.

It is so very important not to let any bad beats take any negative effects on your game as this can so badly hurt your winrate.

eQuadro's picture

Rypac - If you lose five 70-30s in a row, the 6th 70-30 still gives you a 70% chance of winning :) nope. its notits still 70 to 30 but the prob. that 6th 70-30 will fall on that "30" is not "30" if u understood what i said. say 50-50 coinflip. the prob. of tails is 50 1st time, but the prob. that 2nd time coin will fall tails is 25%.so its not

TheTurbo's picture
The percentage is always the same

It's always 70-30, no matter how many times you play.If the 30% still hit on the 7th time it's variance. It could be possible to lose 100x 70-30 but it might be accurate at 1000x wher you win 700-300 although you lost your first 100 games.The percentages don't change. They are always the same.If your theory is right, I would make millions playing roulette with only betting low to check the odds and then betting very high because the odds are getting better the more I play, you understand? :)

AlaskaForever's picture
Lol, ofcourse you would win

Lol, ofcourse you would win millions playing roulette when casino let you double or triple your betsize as long as you want. 

TheTurbo's picture
The percentage is always the same

my internet is slow atm i clicked multiple times xD

TheTurbo's picture
The percentage is always the same


MonsterPig's picture
Have you ever heard the

Have you ever heard the expression "the cards (or dice, whatever) have no memory"? Do a search for the law of independent trials...it's the same concept.  Using your coin-flipping example, the chance of having it land on tails twice IS 25%.  That comes from both flips, each with a 50% chance: .50 x .50 = .25 . The coin doesn't remember if it landed on heads last time or the last ten times...it just falls down and lands on one side or the other half the time.

Piratematerial's picture
given that the bankroll you

given that the bankroll you are playing with is never infinite, what would be the point of playing roulette if it was?, it is still -EV to play the cap is because they dont like variance either.  

Jamjoe's picture
Pirate - If you have an

Pirate - If you have an infinite bankroll, and no cap on betting size, and could bet an unlimited number of times, it would be +EV to play roulette. 

Boulases's picture
They have a post like this on

They have a post like this on all forum ...  They have no miracle answer !!! This is poker  !! This is the game !! This is The life !!  Can i accept this fact  ?     

Eken's picture
I dont think roulette will be

I dont think roulette will be +EV even with no cap and unlimited bankroll. An infinite amount of -EV bets does not add up to being +EV.

Jamjoe's picture
It does when you can increase

It does when you can increase your bet size to recoup previous losses.Bet on Red/Black? Lose $100? Oh well Bet $200 next time, lose again? Oh well, $500 this time, lost again? I'll bet $1,500 please. Oh Look I won $1,500Minus the 100,200,500 from previous losses is still $700 profit.Each individual bet being -EV has nothing to do with it.

RyPac13's picture
Wouldn't it still be -EV? The

Wouldn't it still be -EV?The only thing would change is the win/loss distribution, right?IE 99.9% of the time you would chase some small losses and get a small gain in the end.  But that .1% of the time would be even more devastating (just think what people do on roulette all the time, but increase it with an infinite bankroll).Or am I wrong there?

fuseo's picture
Your EV per spin is always

Your EV per spin is always negative but you have have a 100% certainty of making a profit in roulette with an infinite bankroll. But any "profit" is pointless relative to your infinite bankroll, so I wouldnt say playing roulette is +EV, I'd say it is neutral EV and a waste of time for someone with infinite wealth.You can argue that someone with an infinity bankroll can never lose money at anything nor ever win money at anything :)

Eken's picture
The problem with that

The problem with that strategy is that in an infinite sequence of random blacks and reds there will be an infinite subsequence consisting of only reds. When our hypothetical gambler hits that sequence he will never win a bet again :)

RyPac13's picture
I believe Eken is correct. I

I believe Eken is correct.I think the infinite part is throwing some people off.Yes, the odds that you lose are much less with a higher cap and higher bankroll.  But the extent of the devastating, rare event negative outcome much worse as that cap and bankroll is heightened.Think about playing $1 roulette and martingaling with 50 billion dollars.  It's still not +EV, you'll lose all the money in a rare event at some point.  Change that to 5 trillian dollars.  Same thing, you'll lose it all eventually if you play forever and you'll lose money on each spin expectation wise.

fuseo's picture
Lol, that can be a

Lol, that can be a problem.This is more a problem of time rather than money. So we would have to say that the player will live forever.Even so, a sequence of infinity (only red) is still not all of infinity (spins) as infinity divided by infinity dosnt equal 1.  

fuseo's picture
Yeah Rypac, anything other

Yeah Rypac, anything other that infinite bankroll is negative EV. Infinite bankroll makes roulette neutral EV as infinity minus X is still infinity.

ezzzis's picture
Hi, I had used a simple

Hi, I had used a simple system on HUs which minimizes your downswings and makes a steep curve in your graph when you are on a heat. Although it is very arguable but as I saw from observations from my lots and lots of games that usually lucky and unlucky periods tend to last for some period of time. And it could be for many things: bad/good mood, fatigue, some distractions you don't even notice, tilt, too many regs on your limit or maybe just your lucky/unlucky hour and so on and on. Many of these things can get through unnoticed. But that's where this little system can help a lot.

The only requirement is that you must be willing to play on two or three different limits. Now just open paint before you play and start playing on your middle or upper limit. After every SNG draw a stick in paint: red if you lost and green if you won. Draw them in groups of fives. In order to move up after 5 games you have to be won at least 3 of them AND at least 2 from last 3, in order to move down you have to be lost 3 of 5 AND 2 from last 3 (it is like using 2 different moving averages in currency markets:) ) . Otherwise stay on the same limit. Exception: if you won first 3 - move up immediately and start new 5, the same goes if you lost first 3 - move down. Many times the only thing needed to stop losing is to go down to easier games and rebuild your confidence. Also using this method you are not scared to take shots at higher limit because you do so only when you are running well and already won and you know that the most you can lose back is 3 buyins. This method may be the best doctor if you are in bad psichological shape (for example during big downswings) because losses will be little, winnings - high but..... ~80% of the time you will run flat. :)

Other variation: draw green sticks after games you think played well, and red after games in which you know you made mistakes. Have a quit after three reds. This one really works because if you even yourself know that you are making mistakes and still do it - it is really not the best time to play poker. :)

But of course playing only in good condition and studying a lot to improve your winrate is unbeatable system longterm.

Good luck at tables ;)