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What is 'Variance'?

In the gambling world, variance refers to fluctuations in luck which can mean that a player goes on a losing streak or, conversely, a winning streak. The term is most often associated with the game of poker, and players will try to formulate strategies to deal with variance.

'Variance' Explained

Simply put, variance means that, because cards can come out in all kinds of different orders, a gambler may often lose a hand even when the odds are stacked in their favour. Variance is completely random. It could be that a player is dealt AA (the best starting hand in poker) three times in 10 minutes, but the opposite could also occur, and a player may have to wait hours and hours to get such a good starting hand.Poker players deal with variance by having a large bankroll. For example, if a player is playing at a table with £2,000, they should have around £40,000 in their bankroll. This means that when variance occurs, i.e. the player is playing well but dealing with a losing streak, their bankroll will not be completely wiped out.For example, say a player sits down and is playing very well. They may get all of their chips in the middle with a flush against their opponent's three of a kind, with one card to come. Variance means that, although it is unlikely, the last card could give the opponent four of a kind. When this is happening, a player must continue playing in the same way. If they change their style of play, then they are letting the variance affect them, and this could mean saying goodbye to a lot of money.Variance is something which people must deal with in all aspects of life, but in poker, not dealing with variance in the right way can have disastrous consequences.