How to Cope With Variance in Poker

Poker is a game where the variance is often high, but learning to cope with it is an important skill. There are many resources available for beginners to learn the fundamental winning strategy, but staying the course when this doesn’t produce the results you expect is a different challenge. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Playing the player, not your cards

The first rule of poker is to play the player. You must think about how your opponents play and adjust your style accordingly. This is particularly true in late position, where you can see your opponent’s entire range of possible holdings before you make your own decision. A good way to do this is by watching their preflop betting pattern. This will give you insight into what types of hands they are looking for, and what their bluffing range might be.

If you can read your opponents, you will be able to spot their tells and use them against them. This will allow you to get involved in more pots and increase your win rate. However, it is not always easy to pick up your opponents’ tells, especially when you are involved in a hand. That’s why it is best to focus on playing the hands you have a strong chance of making and folding the rest.

Avoid chasing your draws

A common mistake of amateur players is to call all sorts of ludicrous draws in order to win the pot. This is a big mistake, as it usually comes at a high price and will lead to a large loss over time.

Instead, if you have a good reason to believe that you are beating the draw, bet aggressively and take a shot at getting it. This is a much better way to go than calling with second pair and hoping for the best.

Don’t let ego make you crazy

It’s always frustrating to play at a table full of clueless drunks and newbies, who are crushing you with their bad decisions. They raise with nothing, call with junk, and then somehow manage to hit the right card on the turn or river to beat you. This can leave you with a sick, numb feeling, and it’s tempting to start believing that the internet is rigged or to type ANGRY COMMENTS ALL CAPS in the chat box.

Keeping a cool head will not only save you money, but it will also help you to make the right decisions at the tables. If you realize that the table you are at is not the right one for your skills, call the floor and ask to be moved. Most poker rooms have multiple games running at the same time, so you should be able to find a suitable replacement in no time. It’s a lot easier to move between games when you play online, but it is still important to err on the side of caution when you play in person as well.

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