Software for Internet no-limit hold’em and other games has been progressing in the past decade almost as fast as the game itself. In the beginning we had fancy spreadsheets that would automatically tell us our hourly win-rates at various games based on times and dates and profit that we put into spreadsheet cells by hand. Eventually there were programs made that would read the text records of hands played online and give us this information automatically. These programs would later evolve to tell us a lot of information about our play based around different statistics that were created to measure things that seemed important.
Not only do these programs now tell us these statistics of our own play, but also of the play of other players. These statistics can be displayed automatically at the tables beside of our opponents’ names using what’s called a heads-up display, or HUD for short. Most serious Internet players use a heads-up display in no-limit hold’em games, and here we’re going to look at what statistics a beginner will find useful to have on their HUDs.
There are two basic pre-flop statistics that are the foundation of any good HUD setup. The first is called a voluntarily put money in pot percentage (VP$IP for short) and a pre-flop raise percentage (PFR for short). The VP$IP statistic tells us what percentage of hands a player put money into the pot that wasn’t a forced bet like blinds and antes. The pre-flop raise percentage is just the percentage of all hands that the player made a raise in before the flop. These two statistics together can tell you a lot about how tight or loose a player is, and gives you a rough idea of what kinds of hands they like to just call with pre-flop compared to raising.
Besides VP$IP and PFR, there are a few post-flop statistics that every beginner should use on their heads-up display. The first is a continuation bet percentage (c-bet for short). This is important because of how common continuation bets are in today’s super aggressive games. The second is a fold to continuation bet percentage (fold to c-bet for short). If this number is under 40%, then you shouldn’t be bluffing that player with continuation bets very often. However, if this number is over 70%, you should be continuation betting almost every single flop against this player.
Using these statistics will help to build reads using concrete data instead of vague assumptions about what you’ve seen your opponent do over a small sample of hands. To stay on a level playing field with other serious online poker players, you absolutely must have a tracking program with a heads-up display if you intend on playing more than one or two tables. A good heads-up display will pay for itself in a very short period of time, and will gain a steady profit for its user over time.