Using HUD in PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager
A HUD is also known as a heads up display in poker software. The HUD is used to relay the stats and information of your opponents to the user in an easy to understand way. There are many different dynamics of a HUD, with just a handful playing a primary role. It's important that players are familiar with the various aspects of heads up displays because without this knowledge they'll be rendered largely useless. If you are using any version of PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager, you can be assured that you have one of these HUDs available to you.
Even if you are only tracking stats internally on your software, a HUD is still going to have terms that you will need to learn. The main statistical categories that are used include VPIP, AF, PFR, and Hands Played. Though you can modify your HUD to include as many or as little stats as you would like, these are the four that are almost always used. If you want to get a basic frame work for your opponent's style of play without sifting through dozens of numbers, these are the stats that you'll want to have. Think about it. If you are playing at a number of different tables, you don't want to be forced to do a thorough analysis on each opponent whenever you have a decision that needs to be made. This is why the HUD exists in abbreviated format for the majority of players.
The first element of a HUD is the VPIP. VPIP, or VP$IP, is short for "voluntary put dollars in pot." This metric measures how often a player voluntarily adds extra money to the pot. For example, if you are in middle position and either call a bet or make a raise, your VPIP would go up because you put added money into the pot without needing to. When you are in the small or big blind, however, your VPIP would not increase because this is considered a forced bet. Any time that you have the option to either put money or to not put money into the pot, your VPIP is going to be affected.
Determining whether a player has a high or low VPIP is always going to be a matter of relativity. In one game, a low VPIP figure could be considered high in another setting. For example, an aggressive full ring player might be considered only average in a 6-max game. This is going to be true with most every statistic that you use with a HUD. The most optimal way to gauge a player's overall propensity for playing pots voluntarily is to compare it to the rest of the field. A quick glance at the other players at your table should be able to provide you with this information rather quickly.
AF stands for aggression factor. Unlike VPIP, this metric is used to gauge how a person plays more so than how frequently they play. A player could theoretically only play a handful of pots and still have a moderately high aggression factor. Players with high AFs tend to be firing bullet after bullet, playing in many big pots and do whatever it takes to win. These are normally who you would consider TAG or LAG players.
A significant aggression factor doesn't necessarily mean that a player is good, and it can even mean that they are reckless and in fact bad. There doesn't tend to be much middle ground with high AF players. Either the player knows what they are doing and has adopted a sound aggressive strategy, or they are a mess and are going wild without any real rhyme or reason. Needless to say, you should be targeting those reckless players while playing with total attention against the skilled players who are also aggressive. There's a big difference between these two, even if the AF number might not make it obvious.
PFR stands for pre-flop raise. This is a number that is a hybrid between the VPIP and AF stats. With VPIP you could have limping players, with AF players you can have those who play many or only a select amount of hands. With PFR, however, you'll be able to see how frequently a player is making a raise when they are getting involved in hands. A sound indicator of a strong player is when their PFR is not too far off from their VPIP. The reason for this is that a VPIP that mirrors a PFR figure will tell you that usually when the player is playing a pot, they are also making a raise. As a result, you know that you are facing a player who is aggressive but also selective.
The easiest way to figure out what a PFR number means is to compare it to the VPIP. A player with a big gap between their VPIP and PFR means that they are very passive. Using this information, you would know that a raise from this player is likely indicative of a huge hand. If a player has a very close spread between VPIP and PFR, however, you shouldn't give as much credit to any random raise. VPIP and PFR are both statistics that have the most value when compared against one another.
Hands played is the statistic that seems like it's the least importan,t but it's actually required for any of the other information to be truly useful. No matter what figures you have, they aren't going to mean much of anything if they don't come with a significant sample size. For example, even the tightest player in the world could have an infinitely high AF if you only have a few hands of data.
The basic guidelines for sample sizes with HUDs is to use 50 hands at the bare minimum, with 1000 giving a much more realistic picture of how someone plays. The reason that sample sizes don't need to be astronomical with HUDs is that you often times will just not have an opportunity to gain a significant amount of data on your opponents. Regulars in your games will give you tons of information, while the random once and done fish won't tell you much at all.
If you are leaning in one direction with a decision, use hands played as the decision maker. If you think someone is tight but are not sure, check how many hands you have on them. If the AF makes their aggression level ambiguous, a small sample won't help and you can assume they are indifferent in terms of aggression. If you have 2,000 hands on them to go along with a low AF, however, this should be more than enough to convince you that the player is indeed tight and that you should muck your hand.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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