Statistics in Poker
Many serious online poker players use statistics to aid them with decision-making. To level the playing field, you should consider doing the same thing. The purpose of this article is to help you to get started by explaining all the basic statistics and how to interpret them.
Basics of Online Poker Statistics
VP$IP means Voluntarily Put Money Into the Pot. This one of the most used online poker statistics. It gives you a general idea of how often an opponent plays hands. If someone has a high VP$IP percentage, he plays a lot of hands and the other way around.
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PFR describes how often a player raises pre-flop. It is calculated by dividing the amount of times someone raises pre-flop by all hands played. It gives you a good indication of how much one likes to raise, however, PFR alone tells you nothing about how to react to the raise.
Therefore you need more stats to go along with PFR, such as:
- Frequency of folding to re-raises.
- Frequency of continuation betting on the flop.
- Frequency of 4-betting.
Against opponents that raise often pre-flop but prefer to fold when getting re-raised, you should obviously re-raise more often. In case the opponent has a weak continuation betting frequency on the flop, it could indicate that you might be able to get to the showdown cheaply even if the opponent was aggressive before the flop. Also, in case the opponent prefers to 4-bet (raise the re-raise) often, he’s often willing to risk a lot of money in that situation.
AFq comes from Aggression Frequency. The “q” is in the name to not to confuse this statistic with Aggression Factor, which is marked as AF. AFq is the more useful one out of these two, although I shall explain both of them.
Aggression Frequency tells you how aggressive someone is when involved in a pot. However, it’s a common mistake to only look at the frequency of aggression when a player is involved in a pot, not how often the player actually gets involved. Tight players have a high AFq by being aggressive with their strong hands (tight-aggressive) but a loose player might also have a high AFq – these two types of players have a totally different range of hands, though.
Aggression Factor (AF) is the ratio of bets and raises to calls. I dislike this statistic because it never considers checking. An opponent could seem aggressive while in reality the opponent could be checking often (which is hardly a sign of aggressiveness).
I’ve already described one of the common statistics used to determine the behaviour of an opponent pre-flop and that was PFR. Now I’d like to introduce a couple of other stats that are going to help you to figure out how to play pre-flop.
The first one is re-raising (or “3-betting”), which is calculated by dividing the number of re-raises by the number of opportunities to re-raise (the only opportunity to re-raise comes when someone else raises).
Another statistic to look at is how often someone folds to a 3-bet. Make sure to look at a couple of other stats too, though — otherwise you’ll risk getting the wrong kind of an image of your opponent. You should look at both open-raises and calls 3-bets stats and combine those with how often the opponent folds to 3-bets.
We shouldn’t forget calls 4-bets and folds to 4-bets statistics either which work the same way as 3-bet stats. Some players like to scare their opponents away by 3-betting frequently and the 4-bet statistic helps you to determine if your opponent is one of them.
Most players fail to steal blinds often enough. Analyzing the following statistics of an opponent allows you to spot those whose blinds you can steal with relative ease:
- Folded SB to a steal.
- Folded BB to a steal.
- Raised SB steal attempts.
- Raised BB steal attempts.
Blind steal attempts are considered as open-raises from either cut-off or button positions in most poker statistic software. (I think you can steal blinds from earlier positions too when the players on cut-off and button are super-passive, but that’s a story for another article.)
W$WSF means Won Money When Seen Flop. It’s a decent indication of how well an opponent plays. Also, the tighter you play, the higher this figure should be. Players with a high percentage of W$WSF (70%+) are usually big-time winners. W$WSF is calculated by dividing the number of times you’ve won the pot by the number of times you’ve seen the flop.
After someone has raised pre-flop – or bet on the flop or turn – you’re going to see a continuation bet X% of the time. It’s helpful to know how often your opponent is willing to continue betting in order to anticipate what’s going to happen on future streets.
As with most stats, you’ll get the most use out of your opponent’s continuation betting statistics by comparing it with other statistics. For example, an opponent who only plays top pairs will often continue betting but you’d need to know the opponent’s PFR stats in order to come to the right conclusion. If you didn’t know often the opponent raises overall, you might mistake him or her for a loose-aggressive player.
Aggression Per Street
An effective way to get a more realistic idea of an opponent’s actions is to simply look at aggression on individual streets. Is it normal for the opponent to be aggressive on the flop, but passive on the turn and the river, for example?
Showdown stats give us information on how successful someone is after the cards have been revealed. These stats are a good indication of how well a player does at poker in general. If he makes money in the showdowns considerably more often than he loses, he’s likely a winning player.
WTSD comes from Went to Showdown. Weak players have a low WTSD percentage because they can be pushed to fold easily, while “calling stations” have a high WTSD since they rarely throw their hands away. Once again, remember to look at other stats as well, since a player could have a low WTSD percentage for two opposite reasons: because he gets bullied around or he bullies other players around.
W$SD comes from Won Money on the Showdown. Like W$WSF, this statistic gives you an idea of how well someone generally plays but it tells you nothing about the style of play. Players with W$SD way over 50% are usually legitimate winners. A low WTSD percentage usually translates into a high W$SD percentage since these players are supposed to have a strong hand range.
How to Use Poker Statistics
When to Trust
When can you make decisions based on poker stats with confidence? When do they become reliable? While there are no definite answers to these questions, tens of thousands of hands are required to have serious confidence in the way an opponent plays poker. But after, say, 2,000-3,000 hands, you may already have an idea of how the opponent plays (2,000-3,000 hands is better than nothing) and then you keep adjusting the way you play based on additional information.
Good players aren’t necessarily going to play you the way they play against others on average. Winning players adapt, so the way they’ve played the last 2,500 hands could be way different from how they’re going to play the next 2,500 hands. Little-by-little, as you make progress and move on to bigger games, statistics lose their importance since the player pool is smaller and knowing how to adapt (when other players have also adapted) is much more important than knowing the stats of an opponent from past sessions.
Time Between Sessions
Once you start taking poker seriously and dedicating multiple hours a day to studying it, you’ll get a whole lot of better in the span of a few months. If someone had tracked your online poker stats a few months ago and then returned to play against you, the statistics from a few months back are now way off. This scenario, of course, would be good for you, but remember that it can happen the other way around too.
Poker Statistics Softwares
Which poker statistics softwares should one use? While I’m working on reviews for each of these softwares, here’s a list of poker stats softwares that I’m aware of.
Poker Stats Tracking Softwares:
- Holdem Manager
- Poker Tracker
- PokerHands DB
- FreePokerDB (free and open source)
Heads-Up Display Softwares:
- Holdem Manager’s own
- Poker Tracker’s own
- FreePokerDB’s own (a work-in-progress)
- Poker Sleuth HUD
- Realtime HUD
Table Selection Softwares:
- Smart Buddy
- Tablescan Turbo