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1/2 varience

What is the average/worst downswing any of you guys have experienced playing live
Im planning on building up a babkroll and am thinking of doing it with 5-10 buy ins. What is the likelyhood that i could build a bankroll with a 5 buy ins without going bust.


  • MrBucket Posts: 33SubscriberProfessional
    This question gets asked all the time, but I think I'm a good person to answer it.

    This past summer I quit my day(night) job booked an airbnb in Vegas for a month, a round trip ticket, and embarked on a $1200 downswing all at 1/2. When I left my hometown I didn't honestly know what to expect. I was not planning on "going pro" I just planned on playing as much as I could with the $5000 roll I had saved up (Not my life roll!). It was pretty devastating, and that's without being dependent on poker for living expenses after the month ended. Fortunately for me this was not my first taste of downswings as I had hundreds of hours of live experience as well as probably 150k+ hands online spread over years prior to taking my trip.

    Even so I found myself wondering: What do I do with myself for a month in Vegas if I lost it all? How low should i get in my bankroll before I stop playing and save what is left for living expenses for the rest of the month? What do I tell my friends/family about this trip when I get back?

    Prior to this trip my biggest downswing had been 2.4k at 1/3nl. In many casinos 1/3 is the lowest stake offered, I would recommend against playing somewhere like Vegas without the flexibility to hop into these games comfortably.

    To your question the two biggest factors that impact your variance are your win rate and how much you are betting (how much and how often). One of the biggest problems with having a very short roll is not being able to sit deep at a table. Say you sit at a 1/2 table for $200. You lose a buy in (happens all the time) and you add on for another $200. Now you double up through a very weak player sitting on your right who still has you covered. For most players this is the last time you would ever want to leave, this is a great opportunity, but for you with your 2k bankroll you have 20% of your bankroll on the table and you have to get up. Making every effort to cover weak players at the table is a HUGE part of your win rate, and If you only have a few buy ins you just do not give yourself that chance.

    On top of all of this, if poker is important to you as a hobby or as a profession, then the level of stress you feel when you lose a large portion of your bankroll will be miserable. Do not underestimate this.

    Now if you are still working or keeping the day job, sure play some 1/2. Track your results and do not limit yourself to some imaginary bank roll because this will only add unnecessary stress. Focus your thought on how you play, not the results.

    Let me quit my rambling and leave you with these tips:
    1. ALWAYS track your results.
    2. The rake size and structure matter way more than you think.
    3. Table games, slots, sports betting, and loaning money are all for suckers.
    4. If you have not already, play at least 100k hands online. Play 1c/2c from 25 buy ins until you have 25 for 2c/5c. Get at the very least to the point where you have a good winrate at .05c/.1c. No cheating, no excuses, no shortcuts.
    5. Play part time first, if you are a winning player this will help build your bankroll for if you do make it a full time thing.
    6. Once you have done the above I think you will likely have your own answer for how much you need to start full time, just do not forget living expenses.
    7. Understand that this is a profession that is unlikely to take you anywhere. Poker does not look good on a resume, the higher you get the more the games are harder than they used to be, and poker already had its boom.
  • IPIW247IPIW247 Posts: 91Subscriber
    The worst swings I have had with 5k + live hours at 5-5, 2-5 ,1-3 and 1-2 is 10 buyis. I played very aggressive during this stretch of time and did not have the mental discipline or technical skills I feel I have now. My win rate is somewhere between 8-12 bbs at 2-5 NL which is the main game I play. Run Good !
  • ohsnapzbrah Posts: 623Subscriber
    This is a good link that has a formula you can use. Just plug and chug.


    For instance, if you had a $15/hr winrate at 1/2 with a $205/hr standard deviation, with 5 buy-ins there is a 50% chance that one would go broke, without replenishing their BR any.

    Personally, I've gone on 10 BI downswings just this year in a 2/5 game that I crushed prior. And I'm currently in the midst of another downswing in that same game.
  • FreeLunch Posts: 1,285Pro
    I would have guessed about 50% chance of busto with 5bi without running the numbers, so that calculation makes sense.

    Remember there is a massive survivor bias when people give you their own experiences - for everyone here who says X down has never happened to them - there are many more players, including skilled players, who have have >X but are not still in poker or here to post.
  • fozbo Posts: 102Subscriber
    People are gonna think I'm crazy but play 1/3 instead of 1/2 if it's available... it plays significantly bigger imo. And it's easier to beat.
  • FuzzypupFuzzypup Posts: 2,211Subscriber
    I have lost 10bis @ 1/2 in 12 hours.
    I lost for a whole year @ 2/5 playing part time like 5-10 hours a week. That's 12k hands roughly. Only thing that made it up was 2 large MTT wins and online poker.

    Online I lost a 16k stretch.

    All of these were getting it in good and losing for full stacks.

    Variance is huge in this game. Way more than you realize. Then there is skill. 1 mistake per hour is the difference between a $0 winrate and a $50 winrate.

    You can play a lower variance way to reduce variance.
    Call raises and play post more than 3b with very marginal +EV situations
    Look for situations to keep SPRs high.
    CB a little less.
    If you double up swap tables and reset when you have a low bankroll.
    It is also easy to play very tight upfront, loose in the rear and be profitable
    Always look for the best tables.
    by 1SKOO
  • Sonny Posts: 280Subscriber
    edited November 2017
    When I first moved to Vegas I ran about $5k below EV playing 1/2 and 1/3, which equates to loosing about $3k out the gate. Still working my way out of that downswing.
    If you don't run tremendiously bad than 10 buy in's should be OK, not great, but OK anyway. However in my observation, most players generally start out kinda bad and loose 3-5 buy ins when moving from "rec" to "for profit" player.
  • vduraiappa Posts: 3Subscriber
    This is a great topic. I'm also suffering from severe downswing where I loose 200 to 400 dollars easily every month. My budget is only 200 a month. I loose that, I dont play until next month. I play 1-2 NL. Currently lots of loose aggressive players who are on fire. Last Friday I flopped a nut straight on rainbow board. Villain decided to jam all in for 97 dollars, I called, he hit the flush runner runner! I left after loosing my 200 dollars.
  • alambic49 Posts: 87Subscriber
    edited November 2017
    Started to track my results a year ago.
    Played 190 hours of 2-5 in 2017.
    Biggest downswing : 4 BI
    Very low sample tho!
  • sivaddivad Posts: 294Subscriber
    edited November 2017
    alambic49 said:
    Started to track my results a year ago.
    Played 190 hours of 2-5 in 2017.
    Biggest downswing : 4 BI
    Very low sample tho!
    I have about 2000 hours tracked since I started playing, and my biggest downswing is 600bb (three full buy-ins in my game)... sometimes you can run good for a long time.

    Other than leaving once I get a big stack, I pretty much did all of the things Fuzzy mentioned to reduce variance for the first 1500 of those hours... people always tell me how bad I play pre because I am so tight, but they are usually the same LAGs I see who go on massive downswings.
  • TastesLikeBurning Posts: 429SubscriberProfessional
    I've gone on a 1500bb downswing at 2/5. Then again, I was a horrific player compared to where I am now.

    Some downswings can be blamed on variance. If I had to guess, 1000bb of my downswing was due to poor play and unacknowledged tilt.
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