Using Your HUD: Interview with Alexander Gerlach (RedIceRap)

Date: 2011-11-10
Author: David Huber

The Heads-Up Display (HUD) is perhaps the most important feature in many software programs that provide real-time information about opponent tendencies. Without such information, decision-making would require much more guesswork and profit margins for many players would decrease. recently sat down with Alexander Gerlach of Germany, who is known in the online poker community at RedIceRap and is currently ranked #515 worldwide at online tournament play according to Gerlach has over $400,000 in career online tournament cashes at PokerStars and took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. How useful/important is your HUD in daily game play? Which HUD do you use?

Alexander Gerlach: It's very important to me because it helps me put players into categories. Someone who raises 20% of hands is very loose and I can 3bet him profitably with a wide range, for example. A lot of decisions become a lot easier.

If I see someone on the table who has a VPIP/PFR of 30/5, then I know I can't 3bet him light at all. Instead, I play suited connectors and pocket pairs and try to hit the board hard to get all of the chips from this player. If the same player limps, I isolate him with a very wide range by raising to play a heads-up pot against him in position. I pay a lot of attention to the players who have these stats and try to play perfectly against them.

There always are a few players who are too aggressive or too tight on every table, and I exploit that. I first used PokerTracker 3, but then my laptop started to freeze and I read somewhere that PT3 was responsible for this, so I bought Holdem Manager. Since they have a lot of great poker software, I thought it couldn’t be wrong to buy it.

PokerSoftware: Which HUD stats do you believe are a must to display?

Alexander Gerlach: I think must-have stats are VPIP/PFR/3Bet/Hands/Player. Those are the only stats I use. I used to have a lot of more stats displayed, but I never used them, so I just removed them. Since I'm making the reads myself and only use the stats to start paying more attention to certain players, that's really all I need. Which HUD stats do you believe are undervalued and overvalued?

Alexander Gerlach: Well, I'm a tournament player. In tournaments, you won't have a big enough sample size on most stats. So, I think a lot of stats are very overrated. Many players think CBet% is an important stat, but it's much better to give your opponent a range based on his PFR and think about how often your opponent connects with the flop with his raising range.

I never use post-flop stats. You can range people pre-flop, but combining the range with the flop texture plus the post-flop stats will be too complicated for most players and will lead to bad decisions. Another very overrated stat is Aggression Factor. I still don't really know how this stat could help me make decisions and yet I still see it in nearly every HUD. This is my own opinion though. Just because these stats don't help me personally doesn't mean they're useless. Do you have any specific setup preferences when it comes to your HUD like color schemes, skins, and stat locations?

Alexander Gerlach: I play a bit with ranges in PokerStove and color my stats accordingly: Red = Tight, Yellow = Middle, Green = Loose. I won't play many hands against someone who only has red stats, for example. Another great feature of HEM is you get to see the average stats of your database. So if you find that feature, you can see what the average VPIP of all players is and color your stat red for under average and green for over average. I don't use it that way, but will maybe try to color them that way in the future. Are there any improvements you think would be useful for HUDs overall?

Alexander Gerlach: It really always sucked that you always had two databases for your PC and laptop. I beta tested Holdem Manager 2 and there was something called "Cloud," which seemed to solve that problem. You could upload the stats onto a server, which you can use from any computer. I haven't tried it out yet.

Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker 3 have a lot of great features that can help you improve your game and spot your leaks, you just have to ask yourself what you want to know and search Google. I wanted to know what the average PFR for a six-max game was, so I Googled it and found my answer. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Alexander Gerlach: I'd like to add that a HUD will never make reads for you. If you notice someone who has weird stats, start watching him and try to predict his actions in hands you are not involved in. The best way to win is by having a feel for the table, and the stats help me to have that feel faster than I would have otherwise.

There are certain situations that are pretty borderline and if you have multiple tables open, the HUD will tell you what the right move is likely to be, but you should always combine your decisions with other factors like stack sizes and bubble play, etc.

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