Poker variance: what it is and how to easily calculate it

One of the most feared aspects and what causes more uncertainty among poker players is variance. Defining it is easy, predicting it is complicated. We are going to focus on this article to explain what it is, how it can be calculated and how it affects the game.

What is variance in poker

Let’s start by defining what variance is. In poker, the results are changeable. The results fluctuate, they begin to oscillate and that is something irrefutable, and that affects all the players who participate at some time in the game.

Well, it is this oscillation in the results that we know as variance, and it stems from a very simple fact: it is impossible to control which cards are dealt. With strategy and a lot of study you can get skills to know how to read the game, but everything is based on predictions and probabilities. That percentage of error is what promotes variance, the oscillation of results that can lead a player to go through a bad streak.

But the serious thing about variance is not that it causes bad results, that is innate to the game. The dangerous thing is that this bad run takes the player to the edge of the precipice and makes him fall into tilt, a negative loop of bad results in which the player is unable to raise his head because he drags a series of bad plays that are the result, to in turn, from the frustration of having obtained a previous bad result.

Understanding variance and assuming its presence is the best way to avoid being pushed into that maelstrom of bad results and negativity. Because the results fluctuate, but if we have the ability, we will end up obtaining good results sooner or later.

How to calculate variance in poker

The million-dollar question: how to calculate variance in poker? We are talking about a complex process, because to calculate it, it is not enough to apply a mathematical formula during the game and that’s it. The variance in poker can be calculated, but as historical data, that is, an average result data can be obtained, taking into account the winrate and all the results obtained in a specific time window or during the entire trajectory.

But that result, as we say, is only an average. In poker, variance can cause very bad results and suddenly make us win on a streak, as if it didn’t exist. In order to calculate it, in addition, the standard deviation of the results of the hands must be taken into account.

Alright, so how do you calculate the variance in poker of a set of results? Well, following these steps:

  • Extract the average results of your hands.
  • Subtract the average from each individual result.
  • Square the result of that subtraction.
  • Calculates the average of the squared results.
  • The square root of that average of results will allow us to obtain the standard deviation.
  • The square of the standard deviation will be the value of the variance.

In addition to taking into account the steps described above, we leave here the variance formula as well as a series of symbols to familiarize you with this process:

The variance formula is σ² = ( Σ (x-μ)² ) / N.

S^2 = σ² = Òfrac{sum (x_i – Òbar{x})^2}{n – 1}

  • σ² or S² = variance symbol.
  • Σ = sum of all data
  • x = each of the data
  • μ = the mean of all data
  • N = the amount of data

While we understand that this can be complex, don’t forget that there are applications and apps that help to calculate it in a simpler way for the user.

Top 3 poker variance calculators

Variance in poker, despite being very present, is complicated to calculate, difficult to digest and impossible to predict. Hence, computer programs have been developed to try, at least, to speed up these calculations and allow players to know what their variance is.

Pokertracker may be one of the best known. The integrated poker variance calculator allows you to obtain the result in a few seconds. In addition, it is one of the most complete analysis and monitoring tools, which can be very helpful in making players understand other aspects of their games that they have not yet understood.

Another one that may sound familiar to you is Hold’em Manager. It is also one of the best known, sharing many features with Pokertracker. Its trump card is that it offers data in a very visual way, with game trends and help systems that can improve the player’s decision-making.

Another poker variance calculator that you should consider is the Variance Calculator. Under this generic name is a tool that has been specifically created to speed up variance calculations in poker. Simply enter the results of the hand and the program will calculate the variance statistics on its own.

Is it legal to use a variance calculator in poker?

Bearing in mind that variance in poker is an aspect that worries many players, doubts arise as to whether these programs that are so helpful in calculating it are legal.

As is often the case, it is the platforms that have the final word on the use of software tools and help programs.

In addition, local regulations in each case may vary, so it is important to be informed before launching into using your variance calculators for online poker. But the truth is that their help is invaluable to speed up all the calculations and avoid errors in the process.

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