Though it might sound like futuristic technology, a heads-up display (or poker HUD) is a poker tool that has been around for years, assisting poker players in their decision-making with math-based data.
We're going to look at what HUDs do, how to use them, and why they're an asset to the players that use them.
Poker HUD Basics
An online poker HUD (Heads-Up Display) is a piece of software that tracks the actions of your opponents and displays that data for you on the screen. The data is displayed as an overlay on the table, next to each player, with their corresponding stats. The stats that are displayed are fully customizable and can be made as simple or as complicated as you wish.
Online Poker HUDs are useful as they can track a variety of things about your opponent that would be nearly impossible to do by hand or by memory - especially if you're playing multiple tables. It can track how often a player raises preflop, how often they bet the flop, how often they fold to a 3bet, how often they 4bet, and so many more stats for every street.
This information is valuable as when you have a large enough sample to trust that the data gives an accurate representation of how your opponent plays you can start to make adjustments that are based on stats rather than gut feeling. For example, if a player is folding 80% to a 3bet over 5,000 hands, you're going to make a lot of money by 3betting every time they raise.
There are hundreds of strategic stats you can add to your online poker HUD to assist you in improving your own poker strategy. Not just that, the best poker HUD also help you understand your opponents better!
Here are the most common and the best poker HUD stats that are a staple of almost every player's HUD.
Confused about passive, aggressive, tight, and loose styles? Read our guide on the different poker styles!
There are several stats that come under preflop but the big two are VPIP and PFR. These are found on every HUD as they give an overall idea of how your opponent is playing (tight/loose, passive/aggressive).
All other preflop stats are extensions of this but in more specific scenarios such as 3bets, 4bets, steals, etc. where you can see if your opponents are particularly unbalanced in a certain area.
Preflop stats should be used together as together they paint a clearer picture of your opponent's game rather than using them in isolation. For example, a player has a low VPIP, low PFR, low 3bet, and low Fold to 3bet. This says to me that they're a tight player who only plays very strong hands. However, if you took the low Fold to 3bet stat in isolation you may incorrectly assume that they're a weaker player who calls 3bets too often.
VPIP (Voluntary Put In Preflop)
VPIP stands for 'Voluntarily Put In Preflop' and counts the frequency that your opponent voluntarily puts chips in preflop as either a call or a raise, but without counting the times they post the blinds. This gives you an idea of how active your opponent is, the higher the VPIP the more hands they're playing.
You can often tell who the regulars and who the recreational players are by looking at their VPIP as fish often play too many hands and this is reflected in a higher VPIP number. What's considered a 'normal' VPIP will change depending on the game you're playing; the fewer opponents there are at the table, the higher your VPIP should be.
PFR (Pre Flop Raise)
PFR stands for 'Pre Flop Raise' and only tracks the frequency at which your opponent raises preflop, whether that's an open raise, 3bet, 4bet, 5bet, etc. This number does not take into account passive actions such as calls and limps.
This stat is often used in conjunction with VPIP as the gap between VPIP and PFR will indicate what kind of player you're playing against. If there's only a couple of points between the two they're likely a reg but if their VPIP is much higher than their PFR they're likely a passive fish.
The 'Steal' stat is a more specific PFR stat as it tracks open raises from the Cutoff, BTN, and SB. These three positions are considered 'steal' positions where people's ranges will widen with the specific intention of stealing the blinds.
This stat is used to find people who either steal far too much or not enough. If you find someone who steals too much you can counter them by increasing your 3betting frequency to 're-steal'. If you find someone who doesn't steal enough then you'll know to play more conservatively against them as they'll have a tighter range than usual.
FvST (Fold vs Steal)
This is the other side of the 'Steal' stat as it tracks how often you fold the blinds against a steal attempt. There are specific stats that track how often people fold the big blind vs steal and small blind vs steal but this stat combines the two.
What you're ideally looking for are players who fold too much vs steal. These players can be exploited by upping your steal frequency when they're in the blinds, though you should be cautious when doing this in the Cutoff as there are two other players to contend with as well.
RFI (Raise First In)
The 'Raise First In' stat will track the frequency at which a player raises from each position when it folds to them. For example, how often a player will raise from the BTN when it has folded to them.
This is useful as it gives you an accurate idea of how wide or tight your opponent plays from each position, which then allows you to see if they're being overly loose or overly tight from certain positions.
A good example of this is if someone plays particularly loose from UTG - usually raises from UTG should be respected as it should be the tightest range a player has but if a player is raising twice as much then they should be then we can start to attack those raises.
3B (3 Bets)
The 3bet stat tracks the frequency at which your opponent 3bets preflop (it doesn't take into account postflop 3bets). For those who are unsure, a 3bet is a raise after someone has made a preflop raise.
Knowing how frequently your opponent 3bets gives you a good insight into how they play. Passive, weaker players will have a very low 3bet percentage whereas loose aggressive players will have a higher 3bet percentage.
It also gives you insight into the types of hands a player has when they 3bet. A passive player who doesn't 3bet very often will have a much stronger range than an aggressive player who 3bets a lot.
Fv3B (Fold vs 3 Bet)
The other side of the 3B stat is the 'Fold vs 3bet' stat which tracks how often your opponent folds when facing a preflop 3bet.
This stat is going to vary a lot depending on your opponent's pre-flop strategy so is often used alongside VPIP and PFR. For example, if your opponent has a low PFR (meaning they don't raise often), they're likely to have a low fold to 3bet as the range that they're initially raising with is very strong.
Players who have reasonable PFR/VPIP stats but a very high or very low fold vs 3bet stat are great candidates to exploit as they're either way overfolding or way overcalling.
Postflop covers the flop, turn, and river so there are a lot of stats you can choose from when building your online poker HUD. One thing to consider is that the sample size for your stats matters, so stats on the river are often less reliable than stats on the flop as you see the flop more often than you do the river.
Unless you're playing in a small player pool where you can build a significant hand sample on a player, it's better to have more flop stats than river stats.
BB/100 (Big Blind Won per 100 hands)
This stat measures the win rate of each of your opponents in terms of how many big blinds they win per 100 hands they play. For example, if your opponent wins 1 buy-in (100bb) over 1000 hands then their win rate will be 10bb/100.
This stat doesn't provide much information about how your opponent plays and requires a very large sample to get an accurate number. However, it does seem to be part of the default HUD for a lot of different companies so it's worth explaining.
CBET (Continuation Bet)
A 'c-bet' is a bet that is made on the flop by the same player who raised preflop. If there wasn't a preflop raise or if there is a bet made before the preflop raiser can bet then a c-bet cannot occur. This stat tracks how frequently your opponent c-bets when they have the opportunity to.
Some players will c-bet 100% of the time and these players are very exploitable through floats and raises. However, some players will only c-bet when they've made a hand so if you see a player with a low c-bet number you can play a lot more cautiously when they do bet.
FvCBET (Fold vs Continuation Bet)
The other side of that coin is how often a player folds when facing a c-bet. This is a stat that should be paid attention to as if you find a player making a mistake in this spot you can make a lot of money.
The two ways you can make a mistake against a c-bet is calling too often or folding too often. If a player is folding too often then the exploit is to c-bet a much higher frequency than you usually would. If they're calling too often then you'll want to bet the turn at a higher frequency as their turn range is a lot weaker than it usually would be.
WTSD (Went to Show-Down)
WTSD or 'Went To ShowDown' tracks how often the player gets to showdown once they've seen the flop. This stat doesn't track how often a player wins or loses when they get to a showdown, only the number of times it happens.
You can tell a lot about a player by how often they get to showdown. A player with a high WTSD is likely a calling station - they never fold so they're always getting to showdown! On the other hand, a nit is likely going to have a low WTSD as they often fold when bet into.
WSD (Won at ShowDown)
Unlike WTSD, this stat shows how often a player wins when they get to showdown. It doesn't show the dollar amount or big blind amount, rather it shows a percentage of hands won at showdown divided by hands that get to showdown.
This stat can show whether your opponent is likely a red line or a blue line player. A player with a high WSD is likely a blue line player (a player who makes most of their money winning at showdown). Whereas a player with a low WSD is likely a red line player (a player who makes most of their money-making their opponents fold). Knowing this could be the difference between calling or folding a certain spot.
Recommended Poker HUD Software
There are a variety of online poker HUDs on the market, we've had a look at the most popular ones:
Holdem Manager 3
Holdem Manager is considered one of the 'big two' along with PokerTracker and in 2019 they released their latest version - Hold'em Manager 3. On top of the already fantastic functionality of Hold'em Manager 2, they've implemented new advanced stats, an updated hand replayer, and more filters.
On top of this, they've revamped their reports to now allow you to see a variety of reports in graphical view rather than just the numbers. Seeing the numbers represented in a graph makes it a lot easier to digest the information so having that functionality built-in is a great help.
The other one of the 'big two' online poker HUDs alongside Holdem Manager is PokerTracker. PokerTracker has been through four iterations, their latest being released in 2012. Despite it being nearly 10 years since its release, PokerTracker4 is still as relevant now as it was back then.
With arguably the cleanest look of any HUD on the market both in the hand replayer and the database, it's clear to see why this is one of the favorites. Alongside an extremely powerful and fully customizable reporting feature and fully customizable HUD, it's a great asset to have at the tables.
First released in 2015, Poker Copilot was built to be a lean, less intensive alternative to the big two HUD companies. Rather than making you install database software along with their software, Poker Copilot has its own database software built into it, making it a great choice for people who aren't particularly computer-savvy.
It was originally developed for Apple macOS to be an alternative to the Windows-centric HUDs that were already on the market so if you play your poker from an Apple device this may be your best choice. It may not have all the features of its competitors but if you just want the basic functionality without the hassle of setting it up, this is the HUD for you.
Benefits of a Poker HUD
Having an online poker HUD is a huge benefit and if you're serious about becoming a winning player you should make the investment. Not only does it allow you to track opponent stats in-game but it also gives you a way to analyze your hands when you're not playing.
When people think of online poker HUDs the main thing they think of is the little panel on the poker table that is full of stats on your opponent. A HUD can track hundreds of different stats at a time for every player on every table - something that is nigh-on impossible for a human to be able to do accurately alongside playing a solid poker game.
By picking some key stats, like the ones we've covered above, you can get a solid idea of how each player plays preflop and postflop. Knowing how your opponent plays allows you to deviate from your set strategy to make higher EV decisions. For example, if you know your opponent folds against a c-bet 85% of the time, you can make a big adjustment to make a lot of money from them.
Not only will you start to c-bet every time you're in a pot against them but you can start to widen your preflop range to get into these spots where you can c-bet and they fold. Having accurate information that allows you to make these adjustments is well worth the investment.
The aspect of online poker HUDs that don't get talked about as much is the ability to track your own stats away from the table. The HUD will collect and save all of your hands and it allows you to analyze the stats to see if any spots need improvement.
You can filter your hands to analyze specific spots such as 3bet pots, flop check-raises, river c-bets - pretty much any spot you feel you need to improve on you can look over your hands and see where you're going wrong.
What Makes a Good Poker HUD
An online poker HUD is only as good as the person who makes it. If there is no thought put into what stats are on display or how it is displayed it can end up hurting your game. These are things you should be thinking about when setting up your HUD:
The most important thing to consider when making your HUD is making it readable in-game. You'll see some HUDs that are just a sea of numbers with no indication as to what those numbers are. That might look cool to someone looking over your shoulder at it but if you have no idea what those numbers mean then there's no point in them being there.
A clean-looking HUD with a clear indication as to what each number means (or a HUD that's easy to memorize) is going to be far more effective than one that is cluttered. Color-coding is useful in that regard.
With hundreds of stats to choose from it can be hard to know exactly what you should put on your HUD. It's easy to get excited about all the possibilities and keep adding and adding stats until you end up with one that covers the whole table that has a whole row of river 3bet stats.
When building your HUD, you should think about what spots you come across the most and what information you'd like to have in those spots. Once you start to think like this it becomes a lot easier to narrow down the stats to the most useful ones and having a HUD that only has useful stats is a great advantage to have.
Poker HUD: FAQ
We've collected and answered some of the most common questions surrounding online poker HUDs:
What is a poker HUD?
An online poker HUD is a piece of software that tracks your opponent's actions and displays the statistics on the screen. This allows you to make decisions based on your opponent's tendencies without having to mentally or manually track them.
Which poker HUD stat should you consider?
In order to get a more complete idea of how your opponent plays you should consider several stats from each street. The ones that are considered the most important are VPIP, PFR, 3bet, CBet, and Fold to Cbet. This is because these stats cover the most common spots you will face and can make you the most money by playing well.
Is a poker HUD considered a cheating tool?
No, an online poker HUD is considered an assist tool rather than a cheating tool. This is because the HUD will never tell you what actions you should make - which is considered cheating. Instead, it provides you with information on your opponents and it's up to you to decide what the best action would be.
Can poker HUD work on every online poker site?
There are some sites that do not allow online poker HUDs as they feel they're too much of an advantage for the players who have purchased one. Some sites such as GG Poker have implemented their own built-in HUD so everyone has the same amount of information. It's best to check each site's policy before playing.
Are poker HUDs free?
Most online poker HUDs cost a fee to purchase but there are free resources such as FPDB (free poker database). The free resources are somewhat limited in what you can customize so if you want to get full functionality you will need to purchase a HUD such as Hold'em Manager or PokerTracker.
Is there a disadvantage in using poker HUDs?
A HUD is only as good as you make it. If you crowd your HUD with so many stats that it's unusable while you're playing then it's more of a hindrance than a help. A lack of sample size can also lead to issues as if you're making decisions based on a small number of hands it may not reflect how your opponent actually plays.
Should you buy a poker HUD?
If you are considering taking online poker seriously then you should invest in an online poker HUD. Not only does it allow you to track your opponent's stats while you're playing but it allows you to analyze your own hands away from the table which is necessary if you're going to improve.
If you're serious about trying to make money from online poker or just trying to become a better player, an online poker HUD is well worth the investment as a tool to help you win more and improve your game.