# laakeus comments on Verifying Rationality via RationalPoker.com - Less Wrong

31 25 March 2011 04:32PM

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Comment author: 25 March 2011 11:46:18PM 11 points [-]

you may want to warn people that they need to play a large amount of hands for variance to go down to acceptable levels.

Comment author: 26 March 2011 09:51:08PM 2 points [-]

You may want to warn people that "a large amount of hands" means in the order of hundred thousand hands and more.

And to be more exact, variance only goes down relative to the expected winnings. The standard deviation of a sample increases as a square root to the number of hands. Whereas the expected winnings increases linearly. In Limit Hold'em, a 1,5BB/100 hands expected winrate just barely covers two standard deviations from the mean over 100,000 hands. Experienced player can perhaps play 4-6 tables simultaneously, which means that he can accumulate approximately 500 hands per hour. So 100,000 hands would take around 200 hours of play.

The real challenge of poker is dealing with the inherent variance of the game. The immense variance is the reason why poker is so profitable, but even the most experienced players are unable to cope with the most extreme swings of negative luck. The brain constantly tries to pattern-match the immediate results and however much you reason that it's just bad luck (when it really is bad luck!) it will make you sick psychologically.

Note that we assumed we know the expected winrate of a given player. However, conditions change, profitability of the games fluctuate, etc, so it's practically impossible to quantify any given player's current profitability. This makes it vastly more difficult to know whether bad past results are because of variance or because of sub-optimal play.

Comment author: 27 March 2011 08:37:45PM 0 points [-]

200 hours is 1 month of 50 hour weeks, or 2 months of 25 hour weeks. Is it really that big a deal for your results to only matter month to month rather than day to day? I mean, yeah, it can be frustrating during a bad week, but it's not like the long run takes years.