How Bad Can Poker Variance Get?

Running bad in poker just happens, every player has to deal with it. Having a better understanding of how things can go will help you deal with extended downswings and variance. How bad can variance actually get if you are a winning player? That really depends on your true win rate and standard deviation. Using a poker variance calculator I was able to find out.

Winning poker players with lower win rates say under 3bb/100 can expect much longer breakeven stretches and have them more often. They also have a much higher chance of having a large downswing (over 20 buyins).

Play live poker? Use this free winrate tool to figure out how long it would take you to win $5k

I’d recommend trying a variance calculator out for yourself for testing different win rates and standard deviations. Most of the good poker tracking tools will record your standard deviation. It’s actually very difficult to know what your real win rate is due to the changing games and your changes in skill over time. You can make your best guess by looking at a large sample of hands you have played previously as a guide.

In the infographic below I’ve highlighted how likely you are to run bad based on common win rates.

Poker Infographic

– Infographic courtesy of

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