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Using The Standard Deviation To Analyze Your Poker Results

If you're with us to this point, you know you'd love to maximize hourly winnings while minimizing your standard deviation. Simply put, you'd like to win as much as you possibly can while subjecting your bankroll to the smallest possible fluctuations, thus avoiding the major swings that put it at risk.

Winning lots while risking little is nice work if you can get it - but in poker, its hard to find. That, of course, is a real conundrum. If you take the risks required to maximize winnings, like getting all those extra bets in whenever you believe you have the best of it, you tend to increase bankroll fluctuations. You simply won't come out on top in all marginal situations. In fact, because many of these situations are very close calls, you'll probably wind up losing a lot of them. You may even be unlucky enough to lose many of them in a row, to "run bad" for a while.

Let's face it, when you flop four-of-a-kind, or the nut flush with the best possible low hand, or some other equally remarkable hand, it's never a close call. You get all the money in the pot you possibly can, because you've got an almost sure win.

But when you're out there on the edge with a good (but not great) hand. you lose nearly as many pots as you win. You're hoping, of course, to win more often than not, in order to maximize your profits. But you're bound to experience some painful and costly fluctuations as you navigate this precarious path. Remember: The greater the standard deviation, the higher the risk.

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