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Q&A: Polarized Ranges, LIVE to Online Poker Transition and the PFR/VPIP Ratio


Sky Matsuhashi

on June 18, 2020

What are polarized ranges? How do I go from LIVE to online poker? What the heck is the PFR/VPIP Ratio? I'm answering your ???? burning ???? poker questions.

Listen to episode #296: Q&A on Polarized Ranges, LIVE to Online Transition and the PFR/VPIP Ratio

1st Question: Polarized Ranges

Hello, Sky. Just wanted to ask if you have ever done a podcast episode on polarized ranges. I am a bit confused about this concept after reading some articles. I was under the impression that polarized ranges concept was more of a preflop concept, but some articles refer to it even in post-flop. Much appreciated in advance.

-Cenk Kiral

My Answer:

“Polarized” means to do things with two different ends of your ranges; strongest and weakest hands. I only think about polarized ranges when it comes to preflop hand selection, and only with 3betting or higher. So raising with a polarized range means you’re raising with your strongest hands and the weakest hands that are outside of your calling ranges.

For example, if you call raises with AJ-A6s, you probably 3bet with the strong hands AQs and AKs, and you might choose to 3bet bluff with the weaker hands A5-A2s.

A polarized AX 3betting range that calls with AJs-A6s

For post-flop, I revert to thinking about my ranges in terms of hand strengths. So, I'm thinking about what I'm doing with my flushes, straights, 1 pair hands, total misses, etc. I make plays based on my hand strength and what I think my opponent is doing with their different hand strengths.

2nd Question: LIVE to Online Poker Transition

I’ve got questions about the basics. I’m primarily a live player. So, my questions are about getting started with online play.

    1. What’s a good site to play on?
    2. What’s a good level to play? .05/.10 or ?
    3. I need to get and learn Poker Tracker 4, what’s the best way to get and learn the basics?
    4. Any other advice you could pass on would be greatly appreciated.

-Thanks, Ed Culwell

1. I recommend playing on Americas Cardroom

For people playing in states that don't have regulated online poker (like me in California), there's only one site I recommend to play on due to their track record and quick payouts, and that's Americas Cardroom (ACR).  They have cash games from the lowest to the highest stakes, as well as tons of tournaments and SNG's constantly running.  It's very easy to deposit and withdraw using Bitcoin. There's also plenty of action at all times of day (some other sites might only have a few tables/tourneys running).

If you decide to sign up, use offer code SPSPOD to get 27% rakeback. Rakeback saves you money, which is especially useful in the lowest stakes where the rake % is high.

Americas Cardroom runs a lot of great tournament series throughout the year, but their Online Super Series (OSS) is arguably the best as it appeals to all player types. It will run from June 14th-28th 2020.

There will be $15 million in total guaranteed prize pools over 150 tourneys, including three $1 Million Main Events.

There are a variety of game types, including NLH, PLO, and PLO8. Structures include regular, turbo and hyper-turbo.

Deposit with Bitcoin

The easiest way to deposit and withdraw from ACR is with Bitcoin.

Use my “refer a friend” bonus link.  When you buy $100 worth of bitcoin from Coinbase, we'll each receive an additional $10 bonus.  This is what I did when I first purchased bitcoin and me and my friend both got $10.

2. Recommended Stakes

I recommend playing at 5nl (.02/.05) or 10nl (.05/.10). I recommend using a 40x bankroll, so play 5nl with $200 or 10nl with $400. But, don't start off at 25nl even if you have a $1,000 bankroll. There are many more regs and winning players at that stake, so acquaint yourself with online poker at the lower stakes first.

3. PokerTracker 4

One of the things I love about online poker is PokerTracker 4, so I'm glad you asked about it. ACR allows for PokerTracker 4 and a HUD, which is what you need if you want to get the most from your play and study time. If you get PT4 through my link (above) and send me your purchase confirmation, I'll send you my Smart HUD so you can start using it right away to exploit your opponents:

Once you get PT4, there are two things I recommend to help you learn it:

4a. Watch and follow along with PokerTracker 4 Videos

Watch and follow along with any of my YouTube playlist of PT4 videos:

Just choose one that looks good and hit play. Make sure you follow along with PT4 because repeating what others do is a great way to learn.

I recommend you start with this video:

4b. Use PT4 Every Day

Use PT4 every day to review your prior day's hands. Just doing this, forcing yourself to look through hands will teach you how to use it. You'll review a hand where you lost a lot of money after limping and you'll think, “I wonder how profitable I am when limping?” Then, you'll figure out how to find these hands, review them, then learn from your mistakes.

3rd Question: Learning from Poker App Hands

Hey Sky! Been listening to your podcast for a few months now and it's helped me realize how incompetent I am, so thanks :D! I've heard you talk about HUDs a lot and I'm wondering if you have any advice for a novice serious player who plays exclusively on phone apps? Are you aware of any HUDs I can use with poker apps?

-Best, Matt

My Answer:

I'm sorry, I don't play on poker apps so I haven't looked into poker tracking software for use with them. I imagine a Google search could answer your question.

But, I do have 3 recommendations for you if you want to learn from the hands you play on poker apps:

  1. Use a smart phone screen capture app to record game tape as you play. This will record what's happening on your screen in video form then you can rewatch them later to review hands and take notes on how your opponents play.
  2. Spend :30 minutes per day watching the prior day's game tape. Look for showdown hands and replay the action to help you understand the logic your opponents use as they play.
  3. Take detailed player notes in your poker journal. When you see “BobbyMcGee44” open-limp UTG then call a 6bb raise with J5s, you know he's an absolute fish. Make a note of this in your journal, something like, “Total fish; OL/c OOP J5s; DON'T BLUFF, ONLY VALUE BET BIG”. Then, when you play against him in the future, look up your player notes and make a plan to exploit him (and others you have notes on).

4th Question: PFR/VPIP Ratio

LOVE YOU MAN! Can you explain the PFR/VPIP Ratio stat you have?  If I understand what I'm seeing, you never called a raise from the BTN, CO or MP!?  Are you playing either raise or fold?  What's a good or bad ratio to have?


Here's the video that spawned this question:

My Answer:

Yes, since April 1st 2020, I haven't called at all from the MP, CO or BTN. I'm testing out a 3bet or fold strategy and seeing how I like it. And so far, I'm absolutely loving it. I’m facing less cbets, making more 3bets and poker is a lot easier when you stop calling. The only preflop spots I’m calling is when I raise then face a 3bet or I’m calling in good situations from the blinds.

For the PFR/VPIP Ratio, PokerTracker 4 defines this as, “Ratio of how often a player raises preflop to how often he puts money in preflop.”

The statistics tab gives you the definition and formula for every statistic.

So, the lower this is, the more passive you are (you make more calls than raises). For example, if you VPIP'd 10 hands, and out of those 10 you only raised 2 (so you called 8 times), then your PFR/VPIP = 2/10 = 20%. This indicates a super passive player, likely a fish.

Aggressive winning players have a PFR/VPIP around 75%, which means they raise around 3/4 hands they play preflop.

This is how you can learn more about every poker statistic:

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  I’m sure one of these questions and answers struck a chord with you. Whichever it was, take action on the answer I gave in your next play or study sessions. Take action and work to make yourself 1% better every day.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show (Affiliate Links)

Play on Americas Cardroom and get 27% rakeback with code SPSPOD:

Get PokerTracker 4, the best poker tracking software.  I love it and use it everyday!  If you get it through me, and send me your purchase confirmation (via email to, I'll send you a copy of my Smart HUD PokerTracker 4.  It’s the best online poker HUD in the business with every critical stat in the HUD and the 7 custom popups. This is what every online player needs to maximally exploit opponents.

Bitcoin is the easiest way to deposit and withdraw on any poker site and Coinbase makes buying and selling bitcoin super easy. Use my Coinbase Friend Referral link (click the blue picture to the left) and we'll each get a bonus $10 in bitcoin. Thanks for the support!


Sky Matsuhashi

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