Poker Stats..How can I use them to improve my game?

I’ve been studying poker stats more and more lately on various poker websites. Can the stats provided by Replay help my play? And if so, how?

The stats you find on replay are very limited and not too useful, for a lot of reasons:

  1. They’re lifetime, not able to be sliced in time chunks, so you can’t tell how much they reflect your recent activity, and over time they will not change much due to the weight of tens of thousands of hands played.
  2. They are aggregated in bulk, so you can’t get a breakdown by game type, stakes level, or anything. And that matters a lot. Different games are different.

I would love to be able to download my entire hand history, and put it in a spreadsheet and analyze it in depth, but they don’t provide any means to do it.

I do keep a spreadsheet on my bankroll history, and play with it some, and it is interesting, but I don’t learn much about how to improve my game. The data is all lagging indicators, results-oriented, and too high level to make me a better player.

The good news is that you can improve your game a lot by understanding poker mathematics generally, and you can do that not by analyzing your own hand data, but by looking at the probabilities of different situations you’ll commonly run into in poker, and making correct decisions based on that.

Which is easier said than done, but a lot of the fundamental things that are key to becoming a better player are not that hard.

The best things to understand is probability and ratios. Once you have a good intuitive understanding of the odds you will have the best hand you can compare that probability against the pot odds and decide how to continue a hand.

The deeper you get into the game, the more situational these decisions become, and the more different factors you can include in your reasoning. You’ll still get it wrong a fair amount of the time, whether due to miscalculation or due to overlooking some important factor. And that’s on top of the variance that will naturally happen when the long odds hit against you despite making a correct decision.

The stats that Replay provides unfortunately aren’t too useful.

There are a couple of basic stats you can keep manually that may be helpful. It’s a bit of work to do this so I tend to save it only for players who I see a lot and who’re giving me some trouble. This type of counting is simple enough that you can even try it in live poker.

If I want to track a player more closely, I’ll leave their notes view open. Then I watch them for a few orbits (40-50 hands is good as an initial baseline) and keep a count in the notes of:

  • How many hands were they dealt in (H)
  • How many hands did they raise preflop ®
  • How many hands did they just call (facing a limp or a raise) preflop ©
  • If they raised preflop (and didn’t get reraised), how many times did they continuation bet on the flop (cbet)

From this you can calculate approximately some of the stats that you’ll see on other poker websites:

  • Preflop Raise% (PFR%) = R / H
  • Voluntarily Put In Pot% (VPIP%) = C / H
  • Continuation Bet% (cbet%) = cbets / opportunities to cbet
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sometimes i’ll copy the stats to a text file, the do it again in a month or so. Do the math and you get the available stats for a 1 month period. this is a fairly easy spreadsheet, if you want to keep running totals.