As you become more experienced in online poker, one of the most important pieces of software you can use is a poker HUD (Heads-Up Display). This type of tool is so popular that the most serious poker forum members always post their relevant HUD stats when asking for hand advice.
What exactly is a HUD?
In short, it is a tool that attaches itself to your poker tables and displays valuable information about your opponents at the table. It includes useful figures such as their 3bet%, Pre-Flop Raising frequency (PFR %), Aggressiveness% and dozens of others. The figures themselves are based on your opponent’s hand history since you last sat down at the table (you can also buy/import hand histories for better accuracy). You can customise which statistics your HUD displays, however I’ve outlined the most relevant ones below.
Advantages of a HUD
The advantage of using HUD software is that it increases your decision making ability in cash games. It allows you to judge the good players from the fish, identify the LAG players from the TAGs, and most importantly it helps you make more profitable decisions at different streets. For example, if an opponent has a high 3bet frequency (7%), it tells me he is 3betting with a wide range of hands which includes J10 and JK and I will be more likely to call or 4bet such opponents. In contrast, your typical TAG opponent will only 3bet their top 3-5% of hands (AJ+, 1010+).
Similarly, a RFI 30% (Raises First In) tells me that an opponent is open-raising pots with his top 30% of hands, when given the opportunity to do so. This means he is playing loose aggressive and probably stealing a lot of pots with weak hands. I’ll often 3bet such players when I’m playing from the blinds.
Standard Set-Up for Your HUD
Every player has his own preferences, but the most popular set-up I’ve found is as follows:
On the top line, I have VPIP % (Voluntarily Put Money In The Pot), PFR % (Pre-Flop Raise) and AF% (Aggression Factor). I will also have the number of hands played (to understand what sample size I’m looking at).
On the bottom line I will have c-bet%, Fold to c-bet%, 3-Bet%, Fold to 3Bet% and CR% (Check-Raise).
Together these figures can give me a complete insight into my opponent’s playing style. For instance, I can identify a TAG and LAG from their VPIP% figure alone. It shows what range of starting hands my opponent is opening or calling flops with. Anything below 20% indicates a tight player, and anything above 40% is a LAG.
Final Remarks on Using a HUD
Hopefully I’ll have identified the major advantages to using a HUD at the table and how it can help your game. In terms advocating its use I’d recommend anyone playing long term or NL50+ to use one. At NL100+ at least, I can guarantee you that the most successful players will be using a HUD.
If you would like to try one, HUD’s usually come with any decent poker tracking software. The two most popular ones are Poker Tracker and Holdem Manager.