In this episode I discuss the all-important poker concept of “Consider before you click”, acting based on your opponent’s likely reaction. I also cover the 11 HUD stats you MUST have in your HUD… no excuses.
Consider Before You Click (2:00)
Back in the day I would click buttons solely based on the hand I was dealt:
- AA – I was 3betting and 4betting every time
- A5o in the CO – I was stealing with this every time
- 55 in the MP – I was set-mining every time
Eventually one day it just occurred to me, I need to really consider everything before I click that button.
Considerations for every hand:
- The hand dealt to me
- The board
- My position
- Current table dynamics
- Opponents already in the pot and those yet to act
- My image and that of my opponent
- My opponent’s range
- How everyone will likely react to my play
- Stack sizes
- Possible future streets
You shouldn't always play every hand the same way. Depending on the situation and the opponents you’re up against, a different play may be in order. That's why the answers to so many poker questions is simply, “It depends.”
Many poker players are looking for hard and fast rules to play the game. Rules simplify things, but poker is anything but simple.
That’s why you need to consider before you click that button. Take into consideration the situation as a whole, and find the best way to approach it.
Great questions to help you consider:
- How can I make money with this hand, right now and against these opponents?
- How is my opponent going to react to my play?
- What will I do if my opponent doesn’t do what I want?
- What cards on the next street are good for me and what cards are bad?
- How am I going to react to a to an opponent's call, a check-raise, an all-in shove, or whatever else they might do?
Dealing with different opponents is a huge part of the game. Your goal should be to make the best decisions possible, and determining how your opponents will likely react to your play is incredibly important. Check out this article from UltimatePokerCoaching.com that will help you exploit the 4 basic player types.
If you have to bluff to win the pot, but you know you're opponent isn't folding, why would you bluff?
If you want to go for value but you know your opponent will likely fold, why bet?
New Poker Rule: Consider before you click. If they’re likely to react unfavorably to your play, don’t make it. If they’re likely to react how you want them to, then make the play.
11 Essential HUD Stats (5:40)
These are must-have stats. They’ve got to be placed front and center in your heads-up display and NOT IN A POPUP. All of these stats become very useful at just 100 hands, some of them even sooner. These stats also help you to anticipate how your opponent will react to your plays.
VPIP (Voluntarily Put $ in the Pot)
This tells us how often our opponent chooses to play hands. The higher it is, the weaker their range of hands. A small VPIP of 10% = all pp’s, AJ+ and KQ. VPIP at 30% = all pp’s, all Aces, all broadways and suited-connectors and gappers down to 64s with some K's and Q's thrown in. The smaller the range, the stronger it is, so you’re less likely to earn easy money from them. The wider the range, the weaker it is, and these are the players you want to get involved with.
PFR (Pre-flop Raise %)
This tells us how often the player raises. A 10% PFR raises with that small, strong range mentioned above, and a 30% PFR raises with all that extra garbage listed above. The higher the PFR %, the more likely you’ll be able to 3bet bluff them pre-flop. The lower the %, the less likely they’ll fold to your 3bets. This is great if you’ve got KK+, but not so good if you’ve got AQ and 99-JJ.
Together, VPIP and PFR are the first clues as to the type of player you’re up against, and they can become useful even at 20 hands. High VPIP and Low PFR are LP fish and we want to play with them. High VPIP and high PFR are LAG donks, and we don’t want to be on their right. Listen to episode 12 or episode 123 for more on poker player types.
This is how often a player comes over the top of another raise pre-flop. The higher this is, the more likely they do it as a steal. 3bets at sub 5% are more likely just for value. A 3bet of 2% is only JJ+ and AK, whereas 7% is 99+, AJ and KQs. If above 7% over a large sample, this player loves to 3bet bluff. So a 4bet might be in order, or you can just not open in the first place if you’re not willing to 4bet and don’t want to call the 3bet.
The 3bet % becomes quite useful at around 100 hands or so.
Fold to Steal
I love this stat. The blinds are automatic losing positions, and one way we make up for this is stealing blinds from others. Knowing how often your opponents fold to a steal is crucial in MTT’s and SNG’s, but it's valuable in cash games as well. Players with Fold to Steal greater than 80% must be stolen from quite frequently. And if they don’t give up vs steals, you can size your bets bigger with your value range to make money from their unwillingness to fold.
Fold to 3bet
You’re a winning player, so aggression is a big part of your game. You've got to have Fold to 3bet in your HUD.
A common cash game 9bb 3bet bluff vs a 3bb open needs to work 67% of the time just to break-even. If you’ve got 100 or more hands on an opponent, and their Fold to 3bet is at 70% or more, you can expect profitable 3bet bluffing with ATC. And the higher the stat, the better of course.
Critical point: you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish with your 3bet before you make it. You’re committing extra chips to the pot (sometimes 9bb’s+) so their stats should make you reasonably sure that they’ll react how you want them to. And of course, have a plan in case they 4bet, and a post-flop plan in case they call.
Just like the 3bet stat, this becomes very useful at over 100 hands.
6 & 7. Flop & Turn Cbet
This is the best flop stat that I use to gauge my opponent’s tendencies. Given that you only hit the flop about 33% of the time (solid draw or pair +), the % here indicates what types of hands they cbet with. If over a good sample of 100 hands, the opponent is cbetting only 30-40%, then I know they only cbet when they hit the flop. If the cbet is up around 75% or more, then the opponent likes to mix it up and bluff a lot, counting on the pre-flop initiative to take down the pot.
The hardest % to dissect is right around 50-70%. This is probably a decent player who mixes it up and uses a HUD to gauge when and if they should cbet.
Before you decide to play a hand pre-flop, you must look at this stat before you click ‘Call’ or ‘Raise.’ Knowing their post-flop tendencies will help you decide whether or not to play your hand and allow you to start planning now.
When it comes to turn cbet, you’re looking for a significant drop off, a leveling out or a sharp increase:
- If the cbet % drops from the flop to the turn, then you’ve got a turn honest player and their turn action will tell you if they like their hand or not.
- If the cbet % is about the same, then they double barrel a lot for value or as a bluff, depending on how high the %’s are.
- And if the cbet % increases from the flop to the turn, they likely only cbet when they really like their hand on the flop, so they cbet very frequently on the turn because they only get to the turn with the goods.
Cbet stats become very useful at around 50 hands or more.
8 & 9. Flop & Turn Fold to Cbet
These stats are very similar to cbet stats. Hands hit the flop only 33% of the time, so if they Fold to Flop Cbet 70%+, then you’ve got a flop honest player and you need to cbet with all of your air. Should they call, you can easily give up knowing they’ve got a strong hand.
If their fold to cbet stat is lower, like 35%, then you need to cbet all of your value hands and give careful thought to the board texture before you decide to cbet bluff, especially when OOP.
When opponents have a middle % like 40-60% over a good sample, they’re pretty hard to dissect. They like to continue with all strong hands of course, but also with draws and over cards and just plain air sometimes.
The Fold to Turn Cbet stat works the same as the Fold to Flop Cbet, but it takes on the most relevance when looked at in combination with it. Large increases and decreases from flop to turn tell you how they view their hand differently on each street.
10. # of Hands Abbreviated
This stat helps to determine how reliable the other HUD stats are. The greater the number of hands, the more you can rely on them to exploit your opponents.
- 100 hands is okay
- 250 hands is good
- 500 hands is very nice
- 1,000+ hands is great
11. Note Editor
It's not technically a stat, but it's extremely useful in your HUD. You need a place to make notes on opponent reads, tendencies, what they’ve shown down, plays they’ve made and your general thoughts on each player. The notes feature in PokerTracker 4 also has useful automated notes that show you things like which hands they have 3bet with, what hands they’ve called open raises with, and how they’ve played post-flop.
It’s very important that you don’t take your notes directly in the poker site’s software. If they remove the notes feature, you’ll lose it all. Plus, having these notes available off-the-felt during study sessions is very helpful
Practice Using the HUD in FOCUS Sessions and HH Reviews (18:05)
That’s where you play just one or two tables at a time with one focus during the session (episode #8). I recommend playing your next 10 sessions focused on one stat at a time with the note editor being utilized in every one of those sessions. When you focus on VPIP for example, you’ll look at an opponent’s VPIP % every time they open the pot. Try to think about what that % means for their range of hands from that position. Doing this every time an opponent opens the pot will help to ingrain this stat in your mind.
Hand History Reviews
You must use the HUD during every HH review session. HH reviews provide the time to pause the action for as long as you need, sift through your notes, dig into the HUD, find the information you need, and determine if your decision can be backed up with good intel gathered from the opponent’s stats. Doing HH reviews in conjunction with Focus sessions will make a world of difference. It will make for more on-the-felt comfort when using your HUD, more opponent exploitation and ultimately better, more profitable decisions.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:
- Make sure all 11 stats above are in your HUD.
- Work on utilizing all of these one by one until you feel comfortable with each.
- Write down 5 ways to exploit an opponent with each stat.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Support the Show
Thank you to Allen, Domenico, Mari Lou, Alex, Nick and Trent for purchasing my upcoming ‘How To Study Poker' Webinar. To learn more about the webinar, click here.
In podcast #126, I'm gonna answer some of your questions with my fabulous answers.
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.
- Exploit Every Player Tendency – Preflop and Post-flop - September 21, 2023
- Micro Stakes Cash Game Online Poker Training – Ultimate Guide - August 2, 2023
- Poker Question and Answer Episode | Smart Poker Study Podcast - July 27, 2023
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