HOW TO USE YOUR HUD: Raise First In (RFI)

Raise First In (RFI) is a similar number to PFR but it involves how often the player raises when there has been no action up to him preflop. This can be very telling, because some people can’t resist taking a shot at a pot no one has stepped into yet, but are very wary about entering once someone else has entered. You can see this reflected by the differing RFI and PFR values.

Many professional poker players have PFR as the number on the top of their HUD – the box of statistics that is right next to every player they play against. When you hover over that number however you get a pop-up that displays how often the player raises first in each position. These statistics are extremely important. The source of many players largest leaks is playing too many hands preflop. If you can identify the position they believe they are unbeatable in you can crush them. They have so many inferior hands that they’ll be forced to fold more to your 3-bets, continuation bets, and other wagers.

Again, the number that is very difficult to defend is 20% or above. This is why you’ll see so many great cash game players are tighter preflop. They’re used to fantastic players taking advantage of their adventuring. That is not to say someone could not open more than 20% of hands and turn a profit. It’s just that it’s very hard to defend if they get heads-up with the person, as they miss the majority of flops. If they do not have a game beyond “continuation bet and see what happens” they’re not going to get far.

NoteCaddy is an extremely useful tool here as well. Maybe you do not have a large sample size on the person, but you can approximate their range. Did NoteCaddy show you a replay of a hand they played you forgot about, where they opened a J-7s from early position, for example? What kind of range is that most likely to fit in, a 10% Raise First, 20%, or 30%? What would you do versus that projected range? This is why it is so erroneous when people say using the HUD frequently will erode your live game. By the same logic, participating in the Boston Marathon with your running shoes should most definitely hurt your walking game in sneakers.

When you play live you can see someone’s hand get tabled and then ask yourself what RFI ranges it fits within. If it’s an extremely wide range, you’ll know to bluff that person more. If time after time it is a premium holding belonging to the top 10% of hands you’ll know to stay away.

At this time Hold’em Manager 2 and PokerTracker 4 both group their starting positions. If a person opens from UTG or UTG+1 it will be put into the same category of early position for both of these programs. I cannot stress how problematic this can be. Many people have one steal position. To have an aggregate number for three or four positions will have you believing a player is much tighter than he actually is in his stealing area, and looser than he really is in his honest positions. All of these are wrong.

NoteCaddy separates players into each position and provides breakdowns of what hand was opened where exactly. This is extremely valuable. Everyone should graft NoteCaddy statistics onto their Hold’em Manager 2 in order to take advantage of this upgrade.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “But we can’t use the HUD, because we never have a good enough sample size,” I’d have enough money to buy a hammer to bash my brain in after I inevitably hear it again. These same people who tell you with a straight face that 300 hands tells you nothing about a guy will also tell you about the sick lay down they made live from a read that took two orbits to cultivate.

Certainly, we’d like as big a sample as possible, but we can get a great idea of what is going on using a combination of Hold’em Manager 2 and NoteCaddy. If you played a few hours and had seen someone fold all three times they were re-raised, that person would rightfully be perceived very differently from the guy who had 4-bet all three times. Yes, it would be a small sample, but you’d know not to trust it as much as, say, a distribution of 10 hands.

When people complain about a statistic being flawed they’re often not using NoteCaddy. Yes, a guy might be raising a great deal from their early position, but if we see the hands he tabled were kings, queens, and kings again we can know he’s just been running hot. If we haven’t seen the hands we can count it as a smaller factor resulting from the small sample size, but we don’t just refuse to admit it exists. We don’t call our half-assing a task noble, because “who really knows anything with these sample sizes?”

For those who need numbers, 50 hands gives you an idea, albeit a brittle one; 100 hands starts giving you the outline of the picture; and 200 hands will give you statistics that are generally pretty reliable.

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