Verneer Discusses When HUD Stats Converge

Date: 2010-09-03
Author: Sean Gibson

Being a frequent visitor to means that you already know what a valuable tool a Heads-Up Display (HUD) can be at online poker tables.  Today, CardRunners instructor “Verneer” joins us to talk specifics about HUDs.  Verneer currently is producing the “Destination SSNL” series on CardRunners, which takes a player from 5nl ($0.02/$0.05 blinds) to 10nl, 25nl, and eventually 50nl by addressing complex strategies and leaks.  He is a former math teacher who became a professional poker player in 2008 and preaches a healthy lifestyle to his students.

PSW. What are the critical stats that you feel should appear in every HUD?

Verneer: My most basic HUD looks like this:

Player's Name/# of Hands
VPIP/PFR/3bet/Fold to 3bet

The critical ones are # of Hands, VPIP, and PFR.  They are the ones that converge the fastest and are the most relevant against unknowns.  Against regulars, it's also good to have 3bet % and Fold to 3bet %

PSW: Are HUDs equally important to all types of Hold'em players (heads-up, six-max, and full ring) or does one group benefit more?

Verneer: I think their importance decreases as you go from full ring to six-max to heads-up, but they are very important at each level.  For full ring, you are often playing a lot of tables and are much less likely to develop specific reads.  Thus, a good HUD is critical.

Dan "JungleMan12" Cates, currently playing Tom "Durrrr" Dwan in the Durrrr Challenge, said the following about HUDs for heads-up poker: "I would say an HUD is so important that I think it is nearly impossible to beat myself without one."

PSW: You talked about several critical stats. What are other important stats to have in your HUD that might normally get overlooked?

Verneer: Three that I really like are Steal Attempts from the CO, BTN, and SB, respectively, followed by Fold to 3bet When Opening from CO, BTN, and SB.  Thus, if someone is opening 70% of hands on the button, but folding 80% of his opens to 3bets, I can 3bet any two cards from the blinds against them.  It also gives me a pretty good idea of their opening ranges from those positions.

PSW: Some people like Aggression Percentage, while others go for Aggression Factor.  What do you think?

Verneer: I use Aggression Factor.  Basically, anyone with an AF of 2 or more I treat as aggressive and am more likely not to give them credit for a hand.  On the other hand, I tend to give a lot of respect to anyone with an AF less than 2 (especially less than 1).

PSW: Sometimes, players look too much into stats.  Do you know of any HUD stats that can be misleading or misinterpreted consistently?

Verneer: Most stats, unless you have a good sample size, can be misleading.  Stats like Check/Raise Flop, 4bet, and Fold to 4bet often have small sample sizes.  This is why I think the popup is a great tool that is underused by a lot of people.  It tells you how many times someone had a chance to c-bet the flop.  For example, your HUD will only tell you that someone's flop c-bet % is 50%, but if they only c-bet the flop one out of two times, this becomes a fairly useless stat.

PSW: How many hands does it take to start seeing a consistent trend?  In some CardRunners videos, you'll notice a coach starts making reads after just a few hands.

Verneer: It's hard to say.  The higher the player's VPIP, the quicker their post-flop stats (c-bet Flop, Fold to c-bet, etc.) converge simply because they see the flop more often.  That said, here are some general guidelines:

You should know a person's general VPIP/PFR after about 25 hands. Basically, after four to five orbits, you should have a good sense of whether they are TAG, LAG, loose-passive, or just a maniac.  This is the main function of the HUD: to sort the solid players from those that have a clue and those that don't fairly quickly.  VPIP/PFR is really all you need to do this.

Generally, pre-flop stats like 3bet and Fold to 3bet start to converge after about 150 hands, whereas flop stats (c-bet, Fold to c-bet) take 500 hands to really have a good sample size.  Turn stats take even longer simply because you are not getting to the turn that often. So, to really have a good sense of a regular's game, you need thousands of hands.

PSW:  Could you explain why some of the top players at the nosebleed stakes don't even use an HUD?

Verneer: They have extensive history with their opponents and very good players are often switching gears to keep other players off their games.  It's like a very expensive game of Roshambo.  Since players are not playing one style, by the time the stats for them are relevant, they could, and probably are, playing a different style.  That said, even though they don't use an HUD, it doesn't mean that they wouldn't benefit from doing so.

PSW: After a session is over, what advice can you give micro-stakes players when they look through their stats?

Verneer: Don't focus on stats from a single session since table dynamics can and should dictate the style you play for that session.  So, if there is a huge whale at your table, you should play more hands to be in pots with them.

On the other hand, it's good to review your stats every 5,000 to 10,000 hands. Post them in the forums and ask for feedback.

PSW: Finally, any last words of wisdom to people looking to get a better edge at the tables from their HUDs?

Verneer: Keep your HUD basic and use your popup more.  It's much more relevant and keeps your tables from being cluttered.

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