Just saw "Word Wars" - a documentary on Scrabble tournaments. A lot of bitching about variance, there. "I'm just not picking." "He's picking better than me." "I got double blanked." Including one scene where two guys played twenty games against each other, and the loser was convinced it was because he just wasn't "picking."
Reminded me of college: the guys I played bridge and MacRisk with would often call "bad randoms." Or, we used it as consolation: "God I suck." "No, dude, it was just bad randoms."
How variant is Scrabble, I wonder? How many games of Scrabble do you have to win to know there's a 95% chance, let's say, that you're better than the other guy?
Play chess, guys.
Or, here's an idea: duplicate Scrabble. You know, like duplicate bridge, where they play the same hands at every table, and then compare how well you did with everyone else to see how good you actually are? You'd have to change the rules: divide the tiles evenly between the players, preorder them, change the end conditions (as soon as one player runs out his queue it's over?), and work out the logistics. That's the tricky part, probably why they don't do it. With duplicate bridge you can keep your cards sorted as you play and then hand the unchanged deck to the next table. With Scrabble you'd have to sort the letters after your game and hand the stacks on.
Great documentary, anyhow.