Q&A: VPIP & PFR, Thoughtful Decisions and Abundant Poker Content | Episode 170

I answer 3 Q’s about the power team that is VPIP and PFR, making thoughtful decisions and wading through so much poker content.

In episode 169, I discussed making SMARTER goals to achieve your dreams in 2018, along with developing the habits that will drive you toward them.

Q1: The Relationship between VPIP & PFR (2:40)

Charles asked me to compare VPIP and PFR to help understand opponents.

Answer:

VPIP and PFR together are a magical combination of stats that tells us the type of player we’re up against. How do they do this? It’s the relationship between the two.

Loose-passive (LP) Players

Monikers: Fish, Whales or Stations – our #1 targets at the tables

Examples:

  • 50/10 – they play 50% of hands, only raise 10% of hands. When they play a hand pre-flop, they play it aggressively only 20% of the time. Most of their pre-flop actions are passively limping, calling and checking the BB.
  • 30/5 – they play only 30% of hands, raising only 5%. So, 5 out of 30 means they’re aggressive pre-flop only 17% of the time.

Color Code: Green

Green means go so I want to enter as many pots as possible with green colored opponents.

Tight-aggressive (TAG regs)

Monikers: TAG

Examples:

  • 20/15 – they play 20% of hands and raise with 15%. So, when they enter a pot, they enter it aggressively 15 out of 20 times, or 75%. They know the importance of aggression and use it to steal pots and have post-flop initiative.
  • 15/12 – there are tighter TAG’s, like the 15/12 player. They are too tight so they miss out on lots of money making opportunities, but they love raising. These players raise 12 out of 15 times, so they’re aggressive 80% of the time pre-flop. Not too much calling done by these players.

Color Code: Yellow or Blue if they’re winning TAG’s

Yellow for caution: when they’re in a pot it’s often for a good reason so I’ve got to be slightly wary.

Ultra-TAG (Nit)

Monikers: Nit

Examples:

  • 10/8 – these players only play 10% of hands, and when they do, they’re coming in for a raise 80% of the time. Their tiny range is value heavy to give them a better shot at hitting the flop hard with TP’s and overpairs.
  • 10/2 – They only play maybe 10% of hands, but come in for a raise with only the strongest hands like JJ+ and AK.

Color Code: Red

Red for “look out!!!” They’re raising so they’ve got a strong hand. Hopefully, I’ve got position and a good hand that can crack big pp’s and AK.

Loose-aggressive (LAG)

Monikers: LAG

Examples:

  • 35/25 – this player plays a large 35% range pre-flop, and comes in for raises with 25% of hands. This is pretty aggressive. These players play a lot of hands aggressively, which makes it a pretty tough style to make profitable. It’s doable, just takes a ton of study and practice.
  • 30/22 – These players are quite aggressive as well, and with that gap of 8%, they do plenty of calling as well, either from LP or from the blinds.

Color Code: Orange or Blue for winning LAG’s

When I see the orange color on my left, I know that I’m going to be put to the test.

Ultra-LAG

Monikers: Donks or Maniacs

Examples:

  • 50/35 – They’re playing 50% of hands and playing 35% of hands aggressively with 2bets, isolation raises, 3bets and squeezes pre-flop. This is a disastrous style of play. They can quickly build big stacks when the cards are falling their way, but they can lose stacks even quicker.
  • 50/25 – This donk has a gap of 25 between VPIP and PFR. This means that they’re passively playing 25% of hands pre-flop. That’s a ton of limping and calling to see flops. If you build out a 25% calling range, you’ll see it contains a ton of weak crap that can only win money with bluffy aggression or hitting miracle flops.

Color Code: Orange

These players are overly aggressive with too many hands, so strive for IP play against them and look for good opportunities to pick up their chip spew.

Q2: Abundance of Poker Content (9:55)

Lou (PokerDad on YouTube):

With all of the amazing poker content out there, especially on YouTube, how do you prioritize what to watch and how do you decide what is useful content and what is garbage?

Thanks, Lou

Check Lou out on YouTube:

Answer:

Four recommendations to help prioritize your content studies and avoid wasted time with garbage.

1. Subscribe to your favorite content creators. Maybe it’s Jonathan Little, Splitsuit, the Assassinato or Blackrain79. Subscribe to their channel and turn on notifications. Don’t watch every video. Search through their channel for keywords that relate to the theme of your week’s study.

2. Create a weekly study plan. If you’re working on your 3betting this week, search through your favorite content creator’s website and YT channel for relevant videos/articles. Don’t bother watching a cbetting video or a sweat session if your focus is 3bets.

3. Take notes and cut bait if necessary. Take notes as you watch/read the content and choose action steps to practice what you’re learning. If the content seems like it’s of little or no use, don’t force yourself to finish the video. Cut bait quickly and move on to another piece of content. If it doesn’t capture your imagination and suck you in, it won’t be as impactful to you.

4. Get a good book.  I love learning from books, and I get the most out of them when I take 1 week per chapter to study and to put into practice the skills I’m learning.  Too many of us get a book, read through it in 3-5 days and put maybe 10% of it to use – if we’re lucky.  Find a good book: HowToPlayPokerInfo.com put out a list of 13 killer poker books they recommend, and my 2nd book ‘How to Study Poker Volume 2’ is at the top of the list!  Wow, those guys really know their stuff!  Click here to check out the article.

Q3: Making Thoughtful Decisions (14:55)

From Nick Ruscitti: I don’t tilt emotionally but I just play badly sometimes (auto-pilot, button clicking) and when I do I can’t easily turn it around and start playing well. This is my bankroll killer.

Answer:

Random button clicking and auto-piloting can definitely hurt the bankroll.

You say it’s not tilt that’s effecting you, but maybe there’s a little there that you don’t realize is there. I know that sometimes if I’m angry I’ll spite call or re-raise or bluff bet just to try and get an opponent off a hand or just hoping my hand is good enough without really thinking through my decisions. It seems like button clicking when I’m doing this, but it’s because some form of anger or rising emotions is blocking me from my logic centers. It’s possible you suffer from the same thing, so I want you to at least consider it.

To ditch just straight up button clicking and auto-piloting, the first thing I’d recommend is playing a minimum number of tables. 8-tabling promotes robotic play. Cut it down to 4 or less to give you more time to think through your decisions.

Also, I’d recommend using a tick sheet to record why you’re making each play. Getting away from autopilot is going to require that you pay attention to the action and have a reason for every button click.

tick sheet
Example Tick Sheet for tracking IP vs OOP hand winners

Your tick sheet can have these categories: Bluff, Value, Unsure and Fold.

When you’re calling, betting or raising, know the reason why you’re doing it and make a tick under the appropriate word.

If you’re calling/betting/raising for value, then mark it as such. Betting/raising as a bluff, mark that. If you’re checking/calling b/c you’re unsure of what the proper play is, make a tick under Unsure. If you’re folding because you know you’re beat and you think a bluff won’t work, then tick Fold.

Also, turn off all distractions. TV, phone, apps, games, whatever. Distractions pull your attention away from what you’re doing, and that’s not conducive to great poker.

Challenge (17:35)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Use a tick sheet to record the reason for every action you make over your next two sessions. Ultimately, you’d want to see more ticks under “Value” than “Bluff”, and no ticks at all under “Unsure”. Ticks under “Fold” is fine, as long as you first consider making a potential bluff. Remember, you can’t win when you fold.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

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Sky Matsuhashi
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