Learning To Read and Interpret Poker Tracking Software Stats
Poker tracking software such as Poker Tracker or Holdem Manager are programs that extract and compile data from hand histories where all actions by you and your opponent's are recorded, resulting in detailed statistical analysis which can give a clearer picture of how someone is playing and how to play against them. It's also a great aid for improving your own game. It is practically a necessity for online play these days and when used effectively, it will greatly improve your win rate. The long lists of statistics they provide you with may seem daunting or overwhelming at first, just focus on a small number of key statistics and add a new one each time you reach a level of confidence in interpreting each statistic on your HUD. It's important not to over load your HUD with a wide range of stats that you don't comprehend, take things one stat at a time. If you're having difficulty setting up your HUD configuration, most poker training sites host video guides for this.
Using Tracker Software to improve your game
At the end of every session or day it's a good idea to go back through your biggest winners or losers or any other interesting hands and review them. You should learn to recognise if you made any mistakes and try not to repeat them in future. If there are any hands that confused you or you'd like more opinions on, you should consider converting them and posting them on a poker forum for advice. It's always good to hear a variety of opinions on hands you're unsure of. For ease of writing, I'll refer to a continuation bet as 'cbet'.
Using Tracking Software to track your opponents play
When reading blogs and forums etc. you'll often see players, or villains, described as things like 22/18/2, but what does it mean? The first number is VPIP, the second is PFR and the third is AF.
Voluntarily Put $ In Pot % or VPIP
This shows how tight, or loose someone is playing pre-flop, it is the best tool for estimating a player's range of hands. You want your opponent's VPIP number to be as big as possible at low stakes, the more hands they play the worse they usually are. You need a sample size of at least 100 hands to be confident assigning ranges based on this statistic.
<15% is very tight. These players are only playing super premium hands from early position and only still maintain a conservative range when in position.
15% - 22% is tight. They will usually be a bit looser from early position then the <15% players, make notes on whether they play pocket pairs from early position, or whether they raise or limp. They will tend to have a much wider range in late position.
22% - 30% is semi loose. They'll usually open all PPs and strong non pair hands, like suited broadways and strong aces, from early position. They will have a wide range from late position.
30% - 40% is considerably loose. These players are usually playing far too many hands in all positions and should make for easy winnings.
40% - 60% is maniac loose. They're playing all sorts of trash from every possible position, these are the type of players you really want at your table, though they are becoming much rarer these days.
>60% is free money.
Pre-flop Raise % or PFR
This is the percentage of hands your opponent is raising pre-flop. It must always be less or equal their VPIP and should be analyzed in context with their VPIP. A 60/18 is not that aggressive, while a 20/18 is an extremely aggressive player. Again you need a minimum sample size of at least 50 hands to have any confidence in this stat.
If their PFR is very small (<5%) then you don't need to worry about getting raised off marginal hands. If they do raise you can fold nearly all speculative hands unless you have the implied odds to call and stack them with a pocket pair for example, the deeper you're playing the wider the range of hands you can call with.
If their PFR is <1/2 their VPIP, then this player is quite passive pre-flop and limping over 50% of hands they play.
If PFR is between 50% - 75% of VPIP then they're raising more than they're limping, but they're not overly aggressive.
Any player with a ratio >75% is raising the majority of their hands and they're playing aggressively pre-flop.
Aggression Factor or AF
This is an indicator of post-flop aggression. It is calculated by the following formula (raise% + bet%)/(call%) post-flop. It's the ratio of times a player is aggressive against the times they're passive. You need at least 100 – 200 sample size of hands to be sure of this stat but more hands for tighter players.
It's essential to look at this in the context of VPIP and other statistics to interpret what it means. One of the limitations of Aggression Factor is that it doesn't include fold %, so two players with the same AF could have very different ranges they raise.
A weak-tight nit with a VPIP of 12% is going to make much stronger hands on average and fold his marginal hands more often then a maniac with a VPIP of 65% who bets and raises with random hands.
The weak-tight nit will have a high AF because he often folds unless he has the nuts so a raise from him will often mean a strong hand. The maniac on the other hand might have the same AF but since he's playing more hands pre-flop and folding fewer hands post-flop his range for raising will be far larger.
It's important to be able to tell what type of player you're playing against. Take note of the type of hands they go to show down with, a maniac will lose a lot of hands at showdown while the nit will go to showdown infrequently and often with nothing but very strong holdings. Using AF with WtSD, W$SD and W$WSF (explained soon) will give you a better idea what type of player you're up against. Looking at how they react to cbets can also be a useful indicator.
Rough Guidelines For Aggression Factor or AF
<1.5 is passive, these players are calling a lot and betting/raising very little, a raise from these players usually means a strong hand. You can value bet lighter against these opponents because they tend to call with wide ranges.
1.5 – 2.5 is about average. These players aren't overly aggressive post-flop but it's important to look at it in the context of their VPIP and other stats.
2.5 – 3.5 is aggressive. Be prepared to assign a wider range to bets and raises.
>3.5 is very aggressive. These players prefer to bet or raise rather then call and may do so lightly. Against these players it may be profitable to induce bluffs. As mentioned, in some cases a high AF can be an indication of a high fold%, so don't just assume they're raising you light.
Won $ When Saw Flop % (W$WSF)
Is how often a player wins the pot when he sees a flop; this gives a good indication of how aggressive a player is post-flop.
>45% – this player is likely to be extremely aggressive post-flop and is probably firing multiple barrels. It's also likely this player goes too far with marginal holdings, usually indicates a maniac.
40% – 45% – this player is playing aggressively, most commonly a good TAG/LAG
35% - 40% - this player is slightly passive post-flop, he gives up easily and may be playing too many hands pre-flop. Usually indicates a weak-tight post-flop player.
<35% - this player is giving up far too easily and may be playing too many hands pre-flop. Usually means that the player is nitty.
Went to Showdown % (WtSD) – How often a player gets to showdown when he sees a flop. The higher this number is the more likely the player is to be a calling station and the lighter you can value bet. The lower the number the more you can bluff and the less inclined you should be to value bet. This should be looked at with W$SD.
<22%, this player is fairly nitty and doesn't get to showdown often, most likely has a high W$SD
22% – 27%, indicates a reasonably tight range and is the most common, should be looked at in terms of W$SD.
27% - 33%, fairly loose range for getting to showdown, a low W$SD would indicate a calling station while a high W$SD would usually indicate a competent LAG.
>33%, this player is almost definitely going too far with his hands. Value bet relentlessly.
Won $ at Showdown % (W$SD)
Represents how often a player wins $ at showdown. This can give a approximate measure of a player's post-flop skill, the higher the number the more likely an opponent is to have the winning hand at showdown.
This really needs to be looked at in context with a player's WtSD and they're overall style of play. A maniac is likely to have a low W$SD while a smart, aggressive player's will be higher. A good LAG will have a high W$SD where a bad LAG wouldn't. This will also separate the nits from the TAGs. You can bluff frequently and use smaller bet sizes against players with high W$SD as they're likely to be weak tight. On the other hand a player with a low W$SD is likely calling too much so we can value bet lighter and bet bigger against them.
>55%, this player probably isn't going to showdown too often and can be bluffed more frequently.
48% - 55%, fairly common for TAGs/LAGs, look at in terms of WtSD.
<48%, usually has the worst hand at showdown, value bet relentlessly and don't bluff them.
BB/100 – Lets you know if the player is winning over the sample. A good stat to have up on your own play if you generally multi-table, it will tell you what your table image is like for each table. If you're down a good bit on the table then your image will be bad and you will get called and played back at lighter. If you're up a good bit, haven't shown down much (or only strong hands) your image is likely to be good and you'll have more steal and fold equity at that table.
Total Hands Played (Hands) – One of the most critical stats you can have on your HUD. This tells you how much weight you can attribute to their stats. VPIP and PFR only become meaningful after roughly 50 hands, AF after about 200-500 hands depending on how loose the player is. W$SD and W$WSF will need several thousand hands to be truly accurate so should be used carefully, WtSD will become accurate a lot faster though.
Aggression Factor by Street (FlopAF/TurnAF/RiverAF)
These three stats displayed can give you a good idea of what type of player you're up against.
A player with high flop AF will be cbetting frequently, use this with Cbet% to determine how likely a player is to cbet.
A player with low flop AF and unusually high turn AF (>2) is most likely a floater. They tend to have a fairly high Call PFR % as well as a high Call Cbet %.
A player with high flop and turn AFs will often be firing a double barrel, if they have a high W$WSF and Cbet% with a fairly low WtSD you can be fairly confident they will fire 2nd barrels.
A player with low flop and turn AF and high river AF is usually a fish; they like to see all the cards before betting and are often calling stations as well.
A player with normal flop and turn AFs but with a low river AF (<2) is often turning their hand into a bluff catcher on the river, they prefer to check/call then bet/fold. Conversely a player with a high river AF will be bet/folding more of their marginal hands and you can raise their bets as a bluff more often.
Attempt to Steal Blinds % (AttSB)
Another exceptionally useful stat, it can determine whether or not a player is aware position dynamics. It needs to be considered in context with PFR. If their AttSB is significantly higher then their PFR then they're most likely aware of the power of positional and you can give more respect to their UTG opens and less to their cut off/button opens. A high Fold SB/BB to steal % is another solid sign that they know what they're doing.
A player with a high AttSB who is opening from the cutoff and particularly the button is an excellent candidate to consider 3beting light. If they also have a high Cbet% then you could consider calling light with the intention of c/ring (or just raising if your on the button) their cbet. Pocket pairs go down in value against these types of players since you can't expect to get paid off often enough even if you hit gin.
<20% - These players aren't taking advantage of their position and are giving up a lot of value. We would like this type of player in LP when we're in the blinds.
20% – 27% - these players aren't stealing too light and we can give their cutoff/button opens a tighter range. We're not losing much against this type of player.
27% – 35% - these players are stealing fairly lightly, we should assign a wider range to their late position raises and 3bet them more often as they're likely to be getting out of line.
>35% – these players are stealing pretty light and are often raising many of trashy hands. We can 3bet more hands for value and we should be 3betting them frequently as their opening range can't take too much pressure.
Continuation Bet Percentage
Tells us how often a player bets or raises the flop after raising the pot pre-flop. At micro levels players should be cbetting pretty often, however at small-mid stakes this would be burning money. Pay attention to PFR and AttSB, a player with a very low PFR most likely has a big hand when he cbets and should be given credit. A player with a high PFR and high Cbet% will have a much wider range when they cbet.
>85%, this player is continuation betting almost always and is unlikely to be paying attention to the number of opponents or the flop texture. You can raise and call them lighter. These are also prime candidates for floating unless of course they are prone to firing multiple barrels. If they do fire 2nd barrels often then you can be more inclined to slowplay monsters, or call down lightly against them trying to induce bluffs.
65% - 85%, this player is probably playing closer to optimally at small-mid stakes and is going to be much harder to exploit.
<65%, this player doesn't cbet often enough. We can see more flops with them and take the pot away when they check. However, they should be given more credit when they do cbet, as with a low frequency, once they start betting, it's generally because they've connected reasonably well with the flop.
Bet River %
How frequently a player bets the river. It's important to be aware of what type of villain you are facing. A lot of weaker players like to check call cbets and then bet the river after the turn checks through. They often assume you would have bet a made hand on the turn and believe they can win the pot by betting. Maniacs are probably bluffing the river too frequently.
>30%, this player is likely betting a lot of weak or marginal hands on the river. Adjust your range and be prepared to call these players down lighter.
20% - 30%, this player is betting the river quite frequently, they may bet-fold more often then check-call.
<20%, this player should be given a lot more respect on the river.
Fold SB/BB to steal %
This statistic is very handy and can tell you how likely your steal attempts are to be successful. A player with a low fold blind to steal % is defending regularly. If they also have a high call cbet% then stealing light is unlikely to be successful. If a player has a high fold blind to steal % or a high fold to cbet % then you can steal extremely lightly but be prepared to shutdown against resistance.
>90%, playing super tight OOP, attack mercilessly.
80% - 90%, still playing fairly tight and a good target for steals, the higher their fold to cbet % the better.
70% - 80%, very player dependent, o.k. steal targets if they give up easily post-flop. Not great targets if they're competent players.
<70%, calling too much OOP and will find it difficult to make hands or continue post-flop without the betting lead, highly exploitable but not great targets to steal light against.
Calls PFR %
This is a very useful tool to use with Fold SB/BB to steal. If they have a low Call PFR (less then about 5% – 6%) and a low Fold SB/BB to steal (less then about 70% – 75%) it's very likely they are 3betting light and you can adjust.
Fold/Call/Raise cbet %
These extremely useful stats to display on your hud . They can show you how an opponent is likely to react to your cbet.
Fold to cbet %
This is the most critical stat of all cbet% stats. It's important to know how likely your cbet is to be successful and who you should cbet against.
This is a rough guideline for fold to cbet percentages:
<50%, cbetting against them is often just burning money, they are calling stations and chase too lightly. Value bet them relentlessly, but don't bother cbetting with air on boards likely to have hit their range. Cbetting on dry boards heads-up can sometimes be ok though.
50% - 70%, they're probably not huge calling stations but may play back or chase with marginal hands or draws.
70% - 80%, likely to only be putting money in with a reasonable hand and probably aren't chasing too lightly.
>80%, should nearly always be cbet against in heads- up pots, they need a good hand to continue and usually won't have it.
Call and Raise cbet Percentage
Very useful when deciding how to play marginal draws on the flop. Against players with high raise cbet compared to call cbet we should be more inclined to check behind a weak hand like a gutshot or a hand we don't want to get raised off. If the player rarely raises cbets and is more likely to call if he's continuing then we can bet these hands and expect to see a turn and river if we don't take the pot down straight away. It's also more likely that we get to see all 5 cards this way.
A raise cbet % >15 would be fairly high and can be given less respect. Be wary of players whose raise % is larger then their call %.
You can also work out what a donk bet is likely to mean. A player who never raises cbets that has donk bet is likely to be donk betting their strongest hands and conversely a player with a high raise cbet % who donk bets is often weak and should be raised.
Fold To Flop Bet
Quite similar to fold to cbet% but this applies only to unraised pots, the figures are usually quite close.
Cold Call Percentage
Will indicate how often they call a raise with no money already invested. Anything above 2 indicates that a player is probably calling pre-flop raises with marginal or trash holdings. You can assign a wider range to them and you should be less inclined to steal from the CO if they're on the button.
You don't want to be basing decisions off incorrect information. If a player gets up and another takes his place before the stats refresh you could make some very costly mistakes.
I also include most of the other stats I don't have displayed in the pop-up screen, you never know when you might need it.
It's possible to put up stats on your own play for the session. I highly recommend doing this as it can give you a good indicator of what your image is likely to be. I have VPIP, PFR, AF, AttSB, Cbet%, BB/100 and Hands displayed.
As you can see you will require large sample sizes for many statistics to bear any significant relevance, but even when you do have large sample sizes, it's important not to be overly reliant on these stats. Note taking is still vitally important, this can't be stressed enough. It's also vitally important that you use Poker Tracker and Holdem Manager statistics as an aid in your overall decision making process, don't rely solely on stats to base your decisions.
Article updated and republished in 2012 from RedJoker article, originally published in 2007. Although you may need to tweak figures to reflect the more aggressive games, this is still an excellent guide that has stood the test of time.