There are many differences between live and online poker. Online poker offers the ability to play a ton of hands in a very small amount of time. Live poker offers you physical information for each opponent. But one of the biggest differences between the games is the usage of a HUD. Most online players will tell you that their HUD is their best friend, and for good reason. But many live players don’t yet know what the HUD is, what the stats are, or how to use this information to draw parallels to their live games.
In this article I want to discuss what a HUD is and some of the most important HUD stats. In many of my videos I discuss HUD stats, and I even discuss them in my book Dynamic Full Ring Poker…but this isn’t to turn away live players. Rather, HUD stats give us a statistical way of talking about a player…and that alone is incredibly powerful even if live players don’t have HUD stats to glance at during a hand.
First, a HUD is short for ‘heads up display’. They look like a jumble of acronyms and statistics next to a poker player’s name plate. You’ve likely seen them in my videos and they look like this:
Let’s first explain what the most common poker HUD stats are:
VPIP: This is one of the most, if not the most, important stats on our HUD. VPIP is a player’s “voluntary put money in pot” percentage. So if a player posts the BB, and never puts another cent in the pot, it doesn’t count because the money put in wasn’t voluntary. Essentially, it tells how often this player is getting involved preflop. A high VPIP lets us know that a player is very active preflop, while a low VPIP lets us know that a player is being much more selective with their hands.
PFR: The PFR stat lets us know how often a player raises preflop. This raise could be in the form of open raising, isolating, 3betting, cold-4betting, etc. A high PFR lets us know that a player is raising and playing a lot of their preflop hands aggressively. A low PFR can mean various things, and this is why we usually look at VPIP and PFR together. A large gap between those VPIP and PFR implies that a player is more passive, whereas a small gap implies they are more aggressive in general.
AF: This is a player’s aggression frequency. The formula for this stat is (Bets + Raises)/Calls. Effectively, it is a measure of the aggressive tendencies of a particular player. We can use this in various ways. For instance, if a player has an AF of 3, it means that he is 3 times as likely to make an aggressive action versus a calling action. If a player has an AF of 1, it means he is equally likely to make an aggressive or calling action. Good players understand that aggressive poker is winning poker, and thus a smaller AF usually denotes a player who is weak in poker understanding. This stat should be taken with a large grain of salt in small sample sizes, but it can give us ideas on what kind of general actions we can expect from an opponent.
ATS: This stat tells us how often our opponent attempts to steal the blinds from a steal position. It is a percentage of how often it folded to him in the CO, BUT, or SB, AND he raised. This stat is great because it gives us a great deal of insight into the positional awareness of a player. A player with a high ATS, especially over a large sample, understands being aggressive from late position and applies pressure in steal situations.
This stat can also help us create a player’s range. Say we have two players, and both are 18/15. However, one has an ATS of 16% and the other has an ATS of 34%. Clearly, the one with an ATS of 34% is more positionally aware, and chances are he raises many less hands from EP than LP. On the other hand, the player with an ATS of 16% probably raises a more static range of hands from all positions due to his positional ignorance.
3Bet: This stat tells us how often a player 3bets preflop. It is a percentage of how many times the player 3bet when he had the opportunity. This stat can help us frame a player’s range and frequency when they 3bet, and also help us choose lines preflop. We might not steal as much if we expected to get 3bet a ton, or we might increase our raising range if we thought getting 3bet was less of a concern.
Flop CB: How often did villain Cbet the flop when given the opportunity? Remember that a CBet is when the original aggressor bets the flop. A high FlopCB implies that you can expect him to CBet a large part of his opening-range…whereas a low one implies he’s only CBetting with a stronger range of hands.
Fold vs Flop CB: How often did they call preflop and then fold to the CB on the flop? A high number here says they play very fit-or-fold when calling preflop (which in turn allows you to CB in spots you may have otherwise checked.)
Hands: This is how many hands you have on your opponent. You can only get hands on your opponent when you play against them, so this is also a good gauge of knowing how much you two have played together. In smaller sample sizes most stats are useless (especially very specific stats like Turn Donk Bet or Called 4Bet). Stats like VPIP and PFR (which happen in every single hand) become useful the quickest, which is why in certain videos I may only discuss those two stats. A good sample size is usually 500+, and a great one is 1,000+…but there can still be good information over just a 60 hand sample.
As you can see, every stat, other than the number of hands, is simply a percentage. VPIP is a percentage showing how many hands a player enters preflop. 3Bet is a percentage of how often a player 3bets when given the opportunity. So if you are a live player and see that I mention a player is 25/10 with a 3bet of 2%, it means they have a VPIP of 25% (they play about 25% of the hands they are dealt), they have a PFR of 10% (they raise about 10% of the time when given the chance), and they 3bet 2% of the time when given the opportunity.
You can actually visualize live play the same way. If you are playing 10 handed and a player is playing about 4 hands per orbit, they have a VPIP of about 40%. If they’ve only CB the flop 3 times of the last 15 opportunities, their Flop CB is about 20%. A HUD stat is just a percentage showing how often a player makes a certain play. Live players can’t get these stats in an automated way, but the information gleaned from stats can universally applied in both live and online games.
So the next time you see HUD stats mentioned in a video, article, or book…you’ll know exactly what they mean and understand what that HUD stat is actually telling you. And if you want to take it to the next level, read my guide on how to turn your brain into a HUD for live games 🙂