Continuing on from our last post on playing poker well, another tool that many professional and amateur poker player alike will use is the heads-up-display, usually just called a HUD. This tool, combined with the poker strategy involved in how to use it, can be one of the greatest assets to a poker player. However, it can also be like training wheels that need to come off if not used properly. Once you learn how to effectively use the information provided by a HUD, it can easily become a booster rocket to improving your play and moving up in stakes.
You may have seen a HUD before and perhaps don’t really know how it works or exactly what it is for. HUDs are supported at most major sites, such as PokerStars, Lock Poker and Party Poker. You probably have played against people who were using a HUD without even knowing it. Contrary to the belief of some players who do not know what it is, the HUD will not make decisions for you. It merely allows you to make faster decisions based on past experience. Through a combination with poker tracking software, such as Poker Tracker or Hold’em Manager, the HUD displays stored data on players with whom you have played before.
As you play against your opponents, their information is stored and analyzed statistically by the software. This information can then be displayed on the screen as you play. For instance, let’s say you are involved in a hand with Player X. You have played 2000 hands against him previously and your statistics show that he is quite tight and rarely shows down a hand that is not a winner. Based on this information you can alter the way you play the hand. If he shows any aggression or continues to call your bets, you can be fairly certain that he has a strong hand. Therefore, this is a player you may be able to bluff off a hand, but if he calls your bluff you should just give up.
There are situations where having a HUD can be a bad thing. To utilize the information effectively, you really need to understand what the statistics are telling you. It is also important to take the sample size into consideration. If you have played 20 hands with a player, then the statistics are useless. They do not even begin to become relevant until at least 100 hands or more and many would argue to ignore the stats until you have 1000 hands on a player.
Also, some players weigh themselves down with HUD information. To begin, you really only need a few statistics. Some of the important ones are:
– VPIP (voluntarily put money in pot), this tells you how many hands they are playing. The higher the number, the more loose the player generally is.
– PFR (pre-flop raise), this stat shows the percentage of hands that the player raises before the flop. The closer this number to VPIP, the more aggressive the player. If a player has a high VPIP and low PFR, then they are probably loose and passive.
– CB (continuation bet), this shows how often the player makes a bet on the flop when they have raised before the flop. A high c-bet number (above about 70 – 80%) shows that they may often bluff at the flop to protect their pre-flop raise.
– Hands, this stat shows the number of hands. Information on the number of hands has already been covered.
That is really all a new player needs. Some other stats that can be helpful as you become more comfortable with your HUD and want to add statistical information are 3 bet %, attempts to steal (the blinds), went to showdown and won at showdown. However, as mentioned, it is important to understand what these stats mean and how to use them.
This type of information is invaluable to making quick decisions. The ability to make quick decisions allows you to perhaps play more hands per hour and hopefully make more money. So study up, get a HUD and start moving up the stakes!