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How Does The Standard Deviation Work?

If you haven't taken statistics, this term may scare you, but it's really not hard to grasp. Try thinking of the standard deviation as though it's an adjective modifying a noun (your hourly win rate). Here's an example: "She's wearing a dress." Dress, of course, is the noun. Now modify that sentence by adding one of the following adjectives: "She's wearing a (sexy, blue, business-like, grandmotherly, clinging, revealing, scandalous, see-through, designer, hideous, glamorous) dress. As you can see, substituting one adjective for another radically changes the meaning. It's much the same with the relationship between the standard deviation and the mean.

If there were no dispersion (range of values) in a distribution, all observed values would be the same. No observed value would deviate - move away - from the mean. If, for example, it were exactly 64 degrees Fahrenheit in your wine cellar for 6 days in a row, the mean temperature would be 64 degrees for that period, and there would be no variance at all between the high and low readings - just the way things should be in a wine cellar.

But observed values usually do deviate from the mean. Some deviate by a little, others by a lot. The standard deviation is a measure of the "average" amount by which all values deviate from the mean. In poker, the higher it is, the larger the bankroll you'll need to withstand expected bumps and potholes on the road to consistent profits.

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