Poker HUDs

Just introducing the topic. Since it was all the rage some time ago and now it’s becoming more and more criticized.

I’ve never used one live however I understand the concepts (VPIP, PFR, ATS, 3-Bet, FvBet etc.) and use it for off table study. It’s usually to know more about my game and see if I made +EV play or not based on richer informations that I couldn’t have used live.

What’s your opinion?

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I have never used one, but I imagine they would be extremely helpful on a real-money site. You can’t make your decisions purely based on HUD stats, but you can guess at player types easily without having to take notes.

I would love it if Replay gave meaningful statistics similar to what a HUD would show (even just VPIP). But, on this site I can make a bunch of assumptions about player type without stats and be correct nearly all of the time (for example, everyone is a fish until they prove otherwise, and most players are calling stations except the aggressive fish).

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for example, everyone is a fish until they prove otherwise, and most players are calling stations except the aggressive fish

It’s a good rule ^^

Yeah VPIP/PFR (sample size) would be nice to have.

Players stats like VPIP we’re planning to roll out, I can’t say when, but it’s definitely on the roadmap :smile:

I am also interested in seeing VPIP /PFR, is there any update as to when this might roll out?
thanks for a great site

I have mixed, complicated feelings about HUDs and other assistive tools.

HUDs are useful, there’s no doubt about it. If you understand them, and can use the information to make better decisions, you will play better, and win more chips, at least until the people you play against catch up and start doing the same.

Online poker is a different game from live poker, and HUDs further accentuate and increase these differences. Live poker and online poker both are games where there is a mathematical as well as psychological component to playing well, but the balance between math and psychology is different.
Making decisions based purely on the math takes the psychological element of play out of the equation almost entirely. But I find the game is more interesting, more enjoyable, and deeper if the math and psychological sides of the game are balanced and compliment one another.

As to the psychological game, there’s two sides to it: the internal game, how your own mental state influences you to make better or worse decisions, and the external game: how your ability to read your opponents’s behavior can lead to inferences about their psychological state, anticipate their decisions before they make them, and help you to make exploitative decisions in the moment to maximize profit and minimize losses. And where the psychological game dominates, carefully crafting your image at the table, and then exploiting that by doing what your opponents don’t expect at a critical point is a hallmark of poker strategy.

In the live game, we can do this by reading people’s facial expressions, looking them in the eye, watching what they do with their hands, and so on. These classic “tells” were seemingly the entire game in the pre-computer era, when the math side of the game was far less well understood and appreciated.

Online poker is much more of a mathematical game, for a few reasons, than is live poker. First, online games play much faster, because of a few factors: shuffling/dealing is near instantaneous, everyone’s on a timer from the instant they can act, and with things like HUDs putting the information relevant to making better decisions right in front of you, you can make decisions more quickly. More hands per hour means that your results will tend to “average out” faster, resulting in less of an impact from random variance over the same amount of time.

But also, there’s less to read at an online table, which diminishes the psychological game. You can’t read people’s facial expressions and body language, or gauge how interested they are in the hand. Online, you’ve got less information to go on, and what information you have is less reliable. You can note player’s tendencies through observing their behavior over a period of time. The statistics displayed in HUDs give you the ability to track this information without really having to observe it; you simply read the numbers, and they tell you what you otherwise could only have known if you were paying close attention and made the correct read.

The online game influences the live game, and after billions of online hands played, the way the live game is played has changed pretty drastically over a relatively short period of time. There’s no putting the genie back into the bottle, and what it comes down to is that, in the long run, the math side of the game is more important than the psychological side of the game. If you make the right decisions based on the probabilities before you, you’ll win consistently as long as you’re better at doing that than your opponents are, or once everyone becomes equally good, you’ll all be breaking even.

Once we get to that point, poker is “solved” and there’s no point to playing it anymore. Well, not quite; the point becomes finding opponent who do not have the solution yet, and beating them. But tools help speed the distribution of the solution.

So the way I look at it, aids that get us closer to “solving” poker are useful in the short term, but detrimental to the game in the long term.

That won’t get people to stop using them, I know. And maybe poker will never be “solved” as a practical matter, even if it’s “solved” in a lab setting, or in theory.

To make an analogy, if the sport is to see how much weight you can lift, then you can lift more with a lever and fulcrum than you can just by muscle power. And if you’re smart, you use every advantage, so of course you make use of lever and fulcrum. But if the point of the sport is to see who has the best muscle power by lifting weight in a specific manner, or you’re participating in order trying to develop stronger muscles, the lever doesn’t help you. It only helps you if your goal is to lift more weight, without regard to how your physiology adapts to the stress you place on your body lifting that weight to become stronger. So it depends on what you want to do. If you want to lift the most chips, use as many technological edges as you can. The ultimate is to have a bot play poker for you, and make many copies of that bot, and they will make you far more chips than you could make playing on your own as a single player. If you want to improve your mind, that won’t help you one bit. That said, we’re a tool using species, HUDs are a tool, and they’re useful, so there’s some balance point to strike.

As HUDs become more popular and prevalent, it seems we’re all interested in lifting as much weight as possible, and less interested in our personal development of our mental “muscle”. Or, we turn to the mechanical advantage as a matter of practical necessity in order to negate the balance of competing against those who make use of them, in order to keep things “fair”.

I enjoy playing the game, which, to me is a game of making decisions. I don’t think I would enjoy playing the game if I merely follow the advice of advanced tools that tell me the optimal move to make at every point. To me, it’s the difference between playing a musical instrument, at the limit of my own talent, and pressing the play button on a music player, at the limit of a library of prerecorded music made by professionals.

If I was playing for money, and my motivation was to make as much money as possible, of course I would want to take advantage of every possible tool, and ideally optimized and automated tools to make me as much money as possible would be the way to go. Playing for play chips, I see little to no need in using these tools. All they do is serve to reduce the benefit to my “muscle” for the work I’m performing. I won’t get a sprinter’s body by participating in auto racing. Yet, I have to concede that both are sports. Both interest me but for different reasons. But I’d rather have a sprinter’s body than a race car driver’s body, and I’d rather have a live poker player’s brain than a softer brain that benefits from the use of prosthetic external tools that help me make better decisions at the expense of not understanding why I’m choosing them.


@puggywug - very well stated. HUD’s are useful and when everyone is using one, you cannot afford to be the only one who isn’t. Fortunately, more and more online cash sites are limiting/prohibiting the use of HUD’s and other programs. I’ve been in the same camp as you for a while now. I think its entirely appropriate to use any training device or analytical tool available when away from the tables. When on the tables it should be unassisted human vs unassisted human.

That being said, I would love Replay to allow for hand histories to be exported for analysis. If it did, it would become the 1st free poker site that had a credible claim to also being a training site.


kinda ask’d here ( Hand Calculators )

Personally then where does it end, how is 1 piece of info ok, yet another may not be. If you allow realtime data tracking, you must allow it all… whatever the user wants to track really. Every hand @ your table can be saved too, that person playing 4 tables might just be collecting 4 tables worth of data.

Then it becomes whom can spend the most on the best helper program, or create 1 themselves… even if its a database system and then analysis after the fact, but any realtime helper app(addon)… that just creates human playerbots. ( 2me cheating )


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very good and interesting read. thanks

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Once 6 Max Holdem is solved, we’ll switch to PLO and tournament play with ICM considerations.

HUD aren’t that useful except for exploitative play against the weak. Against somewhat completent players, their stats will look normal and reveal nothing about their play. PRP does not tell you whether a player likes to open more Broadway type hands or suited connectors UTG. 3bet % does not tell you whether a player bets a merged or polarized range. These stats only describe general tendencies.

What is more useful than HUDs is when you can see their hands when they make a thin value bet, hero call, or big bluff. These hands that are close between one decision and another gives a lot of information about a player’s strategy.

Against a completent player, having a HUD will not tell you whether to bet or to check postflop. A HUD is mainly for tracking your own hands and mistakes and identifying fish whose frequencies are way off.

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