This post will help you learn to make your poker HUD more helpful and to use it more thoroughly in order to make better in-game decisions, extract more value from opponents and to avoid tough spots.
Heads Up Displays, or HUD's, have been widely used in poker for many years now. I've been using one for some time, but until recently, I've only had a small familiarity with my HUD. I knew the stats on my HUD very well, but I never gave much thought to Combo Stats (pairing one with another or more to make better reads and plays), making my HUD more user friendly, nor did I spend much time learning my Pop-ups.
I decided to change all of that recently and it's led to big improvements in my game.
Now with every decision I'm making on each street, I refer to my HUD before hand to help me make the best decision. I use the HUD constantly and the pop-ups when necessary for more detailed information on my opponents.
My current HUD:
Which HUD software should I use?
There are many to choose from. I use PokerTracker 4, but there's also Hold'em Manager, SharkScope, And many others. Some offer free trials and I'd recommend giving each one a shot for the full free trial before making your final decision. I'm not affiliated with any mentioned above, but I do recommend PT4.
Color Coding Stats and Font Size
You can color code your stats to colors that suit your aesthetic, or they can have a tactical purpose. For example, you can color code all your pre-flop stats the same, as well as flop/turn/river and overall game stats the same to make them quick and easy to differentiate. You can also create color ranges for specific stats. For example, for PFR my color ranges are 0-10 (red), 10.1-20 (orange), 20.1-30 (blue) and 30-100 (green). These colors quickly help me see how passive/aggressive an opponent is.
You can also use bigger fonts for stats of utmost importance. I put their Live Amount BB's in a bigger font as well as VPIP/PFR because these are so useful throughout every MTT and SNG I play and in any situation I'm involved in. Live Amount BB's is good to know pre and post-flop as the less they have the more likely they're to fight for pots. VPIP/PFR are also useful post flop because if somebody makes calling mistakes pre (a large gap between VPIP and PFR) then they're likely to continue making calling mistakes post-flop. If they have a small gap, they're more likely to fight for pots as they either have a tighter range or are more aggressive in general.
Placement and Color Coding Backgrounds
You can see in the lower half of my HUD I group certain stats together and give them the same color background. This is on purpose as I consider these Combo Stats and I don't look at one without thinking about the other.
For example, the gray boxes contain the Call 2bet % (denoted by Vs as in versus an open) and 3bet %. Anytime an opponent is facing an open these stats are key to know their likely holdings. For this opponent he plays 45% of the time after an opponent opens the pot (38+7). So he has a playing range of 45%. His 3betting range is 7% which is about JJ+ and AQ+. So, if he just calls we know he's playing everything but premiums above Qxs+ Q8o+ J5s+ J8o+ T7s+ and 98s+. This is a pretty loose player and if we're yet to act we can push him off many hands with a good 3bet squeeze.
There are many Combo Stats that you can and should incorporate into your HUD. Give some thought to each stat you use and think about what other stat would help you dissect your opponent's range and play style even further when combined with the first. Over time you'll come up with many, and I'll continue to post about the ones I use as well.
Text and Abbreviations
Text and abbreviations are good to help you learn the placement of them on your HUD, but they take up valuable space. Currently you can see I use ‘2B', ‘f3', ‘CB', ‘Vs' and ‘F'. I'm still learning my HUD daily so the placement of these stats aren't second nature to me just yet. But when they are you can be sure I'll ditch them to conserve space.
Dedicated time working with your HUD
The most important aspect of using a HUD is the time you dedicate to learning it. Each day during your pre-session warm-up, you need to select one specific part of the HUD that you'll focus on for that session. As long as you do this, even if you work with a simple HUD that your software comes with, you'll be much better off than somebody who has a fancy HUD but doesn't know every pixel of it like you do.
I recommend that you take one specific part of your HUD and focus on it each session. Taking the HUD above as an example, one day I focused on just the steal stats in the second line, the next I focused on the preflop stats in the bottom left purple and gray boxes, then the third I focused on post flop stats in the green and yellow boxes. Other days I focus on the different pop-ups I use for further detailed stats.
Marking Hands for Review
One of the best parts of having a HUD up and running during your session is the ability mark hands for later review. You don't have to write situations down for studying later, just quickly mark it for your next study session and continue playing.
Others will tell you there are some disadvantages to using HUD's like creating robotic players and taking away from your live game. I don't believe in either of these. As long as you aren't playing too many tables and focus on one aspect of your HUD every day, you won't play robotically as doing these two things helps to keep your mind focused on the action at hand.
Regarding live games, if you estimate your opponent is folding to flop cbets 40% of the time and to turn cbets 70% of the time, then he's a prime player to double-barrel bluff or bet smaller on the turn for value. You can easily take the opponent reading skills you've gained from using a HUD, estimate your live opponent's tendencies, then play against them like you would an online tournament. Using a HUD should add to your live play skills.
The more time you focus on getting the most out of your HUD, the less mistakes you'll make and the more winnings you'll receive… I guarantee it.
I love to learn how others use their poker HUD, so please let me know how your HUD is different from mine in the comments below.
Make your next session the best one yet!