POKER TIPS & STRATEGY

The Poker Player’s Toolkit: Harnessing HUD Stats for Winning Strategies

By Sky Matsuhashi
January 08, 2024

For online players, our poker HUD is the most effective tool in helping us exploit players to earn more pots and profits.

For the uninitiated, HUD stands for “heads-up display”, and it gives you a numerical representation of a player’s tendencies:

HUD with Fold to Flop and Turn Cbet statistics

Figure 1: Susan folds on the flop versus continuation bets 78% of the time, but not yet on the turn (0% folding).

A HUD works the same as your friend telling you how someone plays poker.

For example, you’re at the local card room and your friend Bob comes up and says, “That’s Susan over in seat 3. She’s a fit-or-fold player on the flop versus continuation bets, and she doesn’t fold on the turn.”

If you were playing online against Susan, her HUD stats would numerically tell you the same thing: In Figure 1 above, Susan’s Fold to Flop Cbet is 78%, but 0% on the turn.

I’m sure you can see how valuable this information could be, whether it’s Bob or your HUD telling you.

The HUD in Figure 1 is my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4, and these are the statistics and elements it contains:

  • Top Line (left to right): Note Editor, # of Hands, VPIP, PFR, Fold to Steal, Fold BB to SB Steal
  • Middle Line: Raise First In, Raise then Fold to 3bet, 4bet, Cbet Flop, Cbet Turn, Bet River
  • Bottom Line: Call 2bet, 3bet, Player Name, Fold to Flop Cbet, Fold to Turn Cbet, Fold to River Bet

Yep, that’s a lot of elements and stats, and it leads to a big problem for many people: Information overload! They haven’t taken the time to learn their HUD’s statistics, so it’s just an unusable jumble of numbers (you might feel this way just looking at the HUD Figure 1 above).

Take It One Poker Statistic at a Time

Following the four simple steps below will build your HUD understanding one poker statistic at a time and will turn that jumble of numbers into solid reads and exploitative plays.

Step 1: Learn the Definition and Formula

These are critical in making a read based on any HUD statistic.

Learn one statistic at a time, and begin with VPIP, then PFR, 3bet, Raise/Fold to 3bet then Fold to Cbet. Beyond that is up to you.

Continuing with Susan and her 78% Fold to Flop Cbet, we can find the definition and formula in the PokerTracker 4 Statistics Menu:

Statistics Tab in PokerTracker 4

Figure 2: Finding the definition and formula for Fold to Flop Cbet in PokerTracker 4.

The Definition for Fold to Flop Cbet: “Percentage of the time that a player folds to a flop bet given that the bettor was the last raiser preflop.”

The key aspect here is “the bettor was the last raiser preflop”. This means you were the preflop caller, and he made a continuation bet into you on the flop.

This is different from other flop folding statistics like Fold to Donk or Fold to Float, and understanding the difference is key in making proper reads and exploitative plays.

The Formula for Fold to Flop Cbet: Number of Times Player Folded to a Continuation Bet on the Flop/ Number of Times Player Could Fold to a Continuation Bet on the Flop

The key to this is “Could Fold to a Continuation Bet”. Perhaps you see a 100% Fold to Flop Cbet. Great, right? Easy pickin’s! However, if it’s 100% by only folding 1 out of 1 opportunity, it’s not super reliable just yet.

If you play online without PokerTracker 4, you’re missing the most valuable piece of poker software available.

Step 2: Understand the Percentage

What meaning can you derive from a poker statistic? To help understand a poker statistic, there are two ways I look at it:

1. Put it in a real-world context.

We’ve seen that Susan folds to flop cbets 78% of the time. This is very close to 80%, which is 8 out of 10. So, if Susan turns down a donut at work 8 out of every 10 times you offer her one, what’s she likely to do the next time you offer her a donut? She’ll decline it. So, the next time you cbet the flop, by the same token, Susan is very likely to fold. What a great way to bluff her!

2. Use Flopzilla Pro to see the range of hands.

I love Flopzilla Pro for range building, assessing how well ranges interact with boards and for hand reading (poker’s #1 skill).

AT 78% folding, what hand strengths will she give up versus your cbet? If we give Susan a 25% calling range, we can see she’s folding everything weaker than top pair or an open-ended straight draw:

flopzilla 78 percent

Figure 3: Susan is folding the weakest of hands and draws versus your flop cbet.

Step 3: Devise Exploitative Plays

This is tough to do at first, but the more reps you put in devising ways to exploit player tendencies, the more you’ll come up with.

We know Susan folds a lot on the flop, so we MUST cbet bluff. But she doesn’t fold on the turn (0%, 0/4 opportunities). How can we exploit that turn tendency?

Only barrel the turn for value, and barrel big! She gets to the turn with strong hands and the best draws. If the best draw didn’t complete on the turn and you still hold a strong hand yourself, get value while the getting’s good and bet big.

Step 4: Practice Making Reads and Plays

Action is the greatest teacher! You must now practice using poker statistics in-game to make reads and exploitative plays on everyone there.

So, look around the table at everyone’s Fold to Flop Cbet. Harry folds 22% of the time; what does this mean and how can you exploit Harry?

Jimmy folds 45%; what can you do with this knowledge?

Force yourself over and over to use the statistic as many times as possible to ingrain this as a new, profitable habit.

And when you feel you’ve nailed down one poker statistic, move to the next and repeat the 4 steps.

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Sky Matsuhashi poker author
Written By.

Sky Matsuhashi

Sky Matsuhashi is the creator of the Smart Poker Study Podcast. He has authored 4 poker books including ‘How to Study Poker Volumes 1 & 2’, ‘Preflop Online Poker’ and ‘Post-flop Online Poker’. As a poker coach, Sky is dedicated to helping his students play more effectively, earn more money and be 1% better every […]

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