Breaking Down Your HUD

Date: 2009-09-18
Author: Sean Gibson

Many micro and low-stakes online poker players turn to coaches to help them get better and win more when they play.  Part of this process is helping students adjust their Heads-Up Display (HUD) and learn how to properly use it.  Eric, otherwise known as DiscoBisco, is a popular member of the TwoPlusTwo forums and certified micro/low-stakes full ring coach.  In the course of two years, he started grinding four tables of $0.05-$0.10 No Limit Hold'em to 16 tabling $1-$2 games as one of the most profitable regulars.

We chatted with DiscoBisco about his experience in poker, HUD tips, and what micro and low-stakes players should be paying attention to at a poker table.

PSW: Can you talk about your poker experience and what levels you provide coaching for?

DB: I began playing poker during my junior year in college.  For a few years, I only played one table online anywhere from 10NL to 200NL.  Then, I found out about multi-tabling, got on Full Tilt Poker, started with four tables at 50NL ($0.25-$0.50), and worked my way up to eventually 16 tabling 200NL ($1-$2).  Currently, I provide coaching for 25NL to 100NL games.

PSW: What HUD program do you use and do you feel one is better than the others?

DB: I use Holdem Manager and think it’s slightly better because it has some more comprehensive popup stats.  PokerTracker 3 is fine, but there are a few extra things that Holdem Manager does that I like. For example, adding rakeback/bonuses into your graphs is one such feature. Also, the filter option is much easier to use; you can just click on today or this month instead of actually filtering by the date you want. Both programs have their advantages and disadvantages.

PSW: For a micro-stakes player just jumping into the world of using an HUD, what's your philosophy and what stats do you recommend?

DB: My philosophy would be to try not to read too much into the stats at first.  It's definitely a slow transition.  It takes a long time to understand what the stats mean and how to use them to exploit certain players’ tendencies. For a new player starting out, the stats I would suggest they put in their HUD are vpip/pfr/hands/flop af/turn af/river af/att steal/3bet/ fold 3bet.

PSW: Is it possible for a micro-stakes player to load too many stats into their HUD?  How do you break them of that habit?

DB: Yes, it is possible.  In fact, too many stats can lead you to over-thinking the game.  One way you can try to break them of that habit is to convince them that the popup stats can accomodate the excess.  Having more than 10 stats in your HUD is probably overkill.  Anything else you would need you can find easily by clicking on a popup.

PSW: What's a common HUD mistake that your students make?

DB: They're probably not quite as aware of vpip/pfr and what they truly mean for how you should alter your ranges against a certain player.  For example, some people see a 12/9 open in early position and fail to understand that they shouldn't be 3betting a hand like Q-Q for value.  Another common mistake I find is people reading too much into discrete stats that take large samples to converge such as someone's turn cbet percentage or their 3bet percentage.  These types of stats generally take at least 1,000 hands to mean something; however, I see students wanting to base a decision for all of their chips off a stat with a sample of 100 hands.

PSW: What are some stats you've found valuable for 200NL full ring play?

DB: Most stats I have I would imagine any competent 200NL regular has in their HUD or popups. But if I had to say that stats I use that I think a lot of people don't pay much attention to are flop/turn/river aggression factors.  Most people use the standard total AF.  This is okay, but it doesn't tell the whole story.  For example, someone may have a 4 total AF and on the flop they are very aggressive, but on the turn and river they slow down a ton.  Knowing this information can help you play better than just knowing they are a 4 total AF. Once again, it's worth mentioning that stats like AFs take a decent amount of time to converge; however, if someone is showing a much more aggressive style on a certain street, you can see that after 500 hands or so.

PSW: Here's a sample HUD from a 4BB+/100 winner at 100NL full ring.  Can you give us your impressions?

VPIP / PFR / AF / Limp Call / Hands
3bet / Fold 3bet / Flop Cbet / Fold Flop Cbet
Fold to Turn Cbet / Steal / Fold BB vs Steal / BB 3bet vs Steal

DB: I think this HUD is a little bit overdone, but it includes the basic stats that good players are thinking about. The thing is that an HUD like this takes up way too much space on the screen. He could almost certainly get rid of limp call, fold bb vs steal, bb 3bet vs steal, and fold to turn cbet. These stats can easily be viewed in a popup. In general, I find that stats like fold bb vs steal and bb 3bet vs steal can, for the most part, be deduced from the vpip/prf/3bet stats.  For example, someone who plays a 12/7 with 1 or 2 % 3bet is likely folding their big blind a ton and not 3betting from the BB as much. Someone playing a 16/13 with a 5 % 3bet is probably not folding their BB a ton and probably 3betting a lot from the BB.

PSW: Some nosebleed stakes players say that they don't even use or need an HUD. What's your take on that opinion?

DB: I think that's certainly okay; an HUD isn't completely necessary in higher stakes.  If you play those games regularly, the player pool is small enough that, in general, you're going to have a good idea of how each person plays and who the regulars and fish are.  Also, some of the higher stakes players feel that HUDs hurt their game and make them more robotic, which I can understand. However, I would never recommend this for low-limit grinders.  The player pools are so large and people are constantly coming and going that it's absolutely necessary to have an HUD to beat these games.  So many decisions at these lower limits are purely based off the player you're up against.

PSW:  Finally, do you have any last words of wisdom to players looking to take their HUD efficiency to the next level?

DB: The only advice I could really give is that if all you have in your HUD is vpip/pfr/hands/Total AF, you definitely need to consider adding a few more stats that I have listed above as being in my HUD.  In the reverse scenario, if you have more than 10 to 12 stats in your HUD, you need to drop that down and take advantage of the popup stats. Having too many stats in the HUD can create clutter on the screen and oftentimes cover up important things like where the dealer button is, who still has cards, and other players’ stack sizes. would like to thank DiscoBisco for his time with this article. Players interested in contacting him are encouraged to visit his thread on the 2+2 forums.

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