Setting Up Your Heads-Up-Display (HUD)
A HUD is a customizable numerical statistical display that is usually included as a feature within poker tracking software programs. Once set up, the display is placed near an opponent on an online poker table and provides real time information regarding how they play.
Unless your powers of observation are super human, then it is 100% necessary for an aspiring player to use this type of software in order to be a successful online poker player. The majority of your regular opponents will be using a HUD, so if you do not, you will be conceding a disastrous edge to them.
A large number of people reading this book are likely to already have a good understanding of how a HUD works. If not, then this chapter will be a crash course for you. It is important that you spend some time setting up and getting used to a HUD before you begin using it in actual play as the intermediate strategy relies heavily on opponent statistics.
Hold’em Manager or Pokertracker?
Today, the two major programs that track statistics and provide a HUD are Hold’em Manager and Pokertracker. If you do not currently have either, then you will need to pick one and download it. Each offers a one-month free trial, so you will not need to invest anything up front.
I currently use Hold’em Manager 2, but have used Pokertracker as well. Both are fine programs, so you cannot go wrong with either. I switched to Hold’em Manager a couple of years ago due to the more specialized positional stats that it offered, but my understanding is that Pokertracker now offers very similar stats also.
I will not tell you which program to use. My advice is to try both and pick the one you like best. All of my examples in the book will be from Hold’em Manager, but setting up a comparable Pokertracker HUD is certainly possible. Recent advancements by both companies have made each an equally viable investment for serious players.
The HUD I will provide covers just about every pre-flop and post-flop situation you will ever encounter. I have color-coded the stats to allow for quick recognition regarding the playing style of your opponents. Armed with this knowledge, you will seldom encounter a “tough” spot. Most 3- betting and 4-betting decisions will become virtually automatic.
The more you play with an opponent, the more accurate the information becomes as your sample size grows. The exception to this is an opponent who is rapidly learning and/or changing his playing style. In these rare cases, information can be skewed, although this is really not something to be too concerned with. For the most part, people are creatures of habit. You will therefore always want as many hands as possible on your opponents in order to get the most accurate picture of their playing style.
The 1st line includes the notes icon, auto-rate symbol, VPIP, PFR, AGG%, and hands played. This line is for quick recognition of reads you might have on the player, as well as an indicator of their style of play. A low VPIP (Voluntarily Put money In Pot) indicates a tight player, while a very high VPIP is attributable to a weak opponent. PFR (Pre-Flop Raise) indicates how often a player raises. AGG% indicates how passive or aggressive the player is.
The 2nd line indicates a player’s opening ranges when folded to from every position. Use the “raise first in” stat for each respective position to fill this line. I like to have the stats running left to right, starting with UTG and ending with the SB. When deciding to 3-bet, you will use the color code of the raiser’s positional stat as applied to the chart. I will explain how to color code the stats shortly.
The 3rd line gives you an idea of how often the player 3-bets vs. particular positions. The stats once again run left to right, starting with “3-bet % vs. UTG” and ending with “3-bet % vs. SB.” Using this stat gives you the info you need to use the 4-betting or “V3B” section of the chart.
I use the 4th line for c-betting decisions and borderline restealing spots. The stats are “Check- Fold To C-bets,” “Fold To C-Bets In Position,” and “Fold To Resteal.”
Color Coding The HUD
During the course of play, you will want quick access to information critical to making adjustments to other players. In this section I will show you how to color the ranges applied to each HUD stat, allowing for easier identification of player tendencies. Color coding also allows for quick recognition for use in tandem with the intermediate pre-flop chart in making 3-betting or 4-betting decisions.
The colors I use for opponent stats are Blue, Gray, Red, Green, and Purple. Blue signifies tight play; Gray denotes average play; Red means loose play; Green indicates fishy play; and Purple means extreme or exploitable play.
Each stat has a different range for each color. Here are the values you should use to color code the HUD stats:
VPIP: Blue= less than 15%, Gray= between 15%-25%, Red= between 25%-35%, Green= between 35%-60%, and Purple= greater than 60%.
PFR: Blue= less than 10%, Gray= between 10%-20%, Red= between 20%-30%, Purple= greater than 30%.
Aggression %: Blue= less than 30%, Gray= between 30%-37%, Red= between 37%-44%, Purple= greater than 44%.
Hands Played: Red= Less than 50, Orange= between 50-250, Blue= between 250-1,000, Green= between 1,000-2,500, Gray= greater than 2,500.
Big Blinds (Hero only stat): Purple= less than 15, Orange= between 15-25, Red= 25-35, Blue= between 35-45, White= greater than 45.
Raise First In (RFI) from UTG/HJ: Blue= less than 12%, Gray= 12%-20%, Red= between 20%- 25%, Purple= greater than 25%.
RFI from CO/BTN/SB: Blue= less than 30%, Gray= between 30%-40%, Red= between 40%-60%, Purple= greater than 60%.
3-Bet Vs. Stats: White= less than 4%, Blue= between 4%-9%, Gray= between 9%-25%, Red= between 25%-30%, Purple= greater than 30%.
Both Fold To C-Bet Stats: Red= less than 40%, Gray= between 40%-50%, Blue= between 50%- 60%, Purple= greater than 60%.
Fold Vs. Resteal: Red= less than 50%, Gray= between 50%-60%, Blue= between 60%-75%, Purple= greater than 75%.
Filtering For Sample Sizing
I recommend requiring a minimum sample size of ten for each stat in the top three lines and a sample size of five for stats in the fourth line. That way, your HUD will not be cluttered with information that is useless due to a lack of hands acquired on the opponent. Until you have a sufficient sample size for a particular stat, use Gray as a default.
That is all the information you need to get your HUD set up. Here is an example of what the HUD looks like in action:
A pop-up is a group of stats that can be viewed at your discretion by either hovering your mouse over or clicking on a specific point on your HUD. They are fully customizable, but both Pokertracker and Hold’em Manager come with standard pre-configured pop-ups.
The principal reason I use pop-ups is to keep things neat and organized. I do not like my main HUD to be overly cluttered, so I only keep stats that I use most often displayed on it. The vast majority of my decisions are made without needing a pop-up, but occasionally a situation will arise that the main HUD cannot satisfy. For those instances, I rely on pop-ups. I also use them while not involved in a hand or during post-session reviews to apply labels to my opponents. For example, I use the “fold to steal” stat in my pre-flop pop-up in order to decide whether or not my opponent is a blind defender. If he folds more than 80% from both the small blind and big blind, I give him the blue tag. I will cover labels in detail in Chapter 14.
I employ four different pop-ups during play: one for pre-flop, one for post-flop, the “versus hero” pop-up, and the “blind versus blind” pop-up. Every stat within each pop-up serves a specific purpose based on the situation I am facing. Feel free to either copy my pop-ups exactly or customize them to fit your needs and playing style. For the rest of this section, I will describe in detail the situations tha teach pop-up covers. Then I will display a sample of what they look like in action and define how every stat is used. For direction on how to make a pop-up, refer to the literature provided by the tracking software.