PokerPasc Tournament Variance

Tournament variance is just plain brutal

What is variance?

In simple words: it's the luck factor involved in poker.

Let's say you're a very good tournament player.

You have a ROI of 100% and you play two tournaments each week.

After one year you'll have played 100 tournaments.
Your statistical chance to be break-even or better: only 53%
So after a full year of playing, it's almost a coinflip whether or not you'll have earned anything at all.

In other words, one out of two great players is going to lose money over a timespan of a full year playing two tournaments each week.
This is not just your average decent player we're talking about, we're talking about really good players here, a ROI of 100% is really high!

Now, let's say you're a professional poker player.

After you've been playing for 10 years, 5 of those, you won't have earned anything.
Again, still assuming you're an amazing player with a ROI of 100%.

After 10 years of playing, you'll have played 1000 tournaments.
There's still a 9% chance of you not having earned any money over this sample!

You could literally be one of the best players in the world, play tournaments all year long for 10 years long and still be losing money!

There's a bright side to this too though!

There's a small chance to run much higher than your expected value (EV) as well!
Over 100 tournaments, there's an 18% chance to run at 2x your EV or better.
Over 1000 tournaments, there's still an 11% chance to run at 2x your EV or better.

There are a few other factors that impact these statistics.

The more players that participate in a tournament, the higher your variance becomes, or the more luck you need.

In tournaments with an average of 100 players, you'll have a far higher chance to win over a smaller sample.
In fact, over 100 tournaments with 100 players where the top 15% is paid and with a 12.5% rake, the chance of losing is almost 0%. (0.4%)
If instead 1000 players decide to play in these tournaments, your chance of loss increases to 17%!

As the other players gets better, your ROI will also go down, further increasing your chances of losing.

Want to know more or run your own numbers?
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Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash