If you are a new poker player maybe you are not familiar with additional allowed tools poker pros are using. One of those is called HUD, which stands for Heads-up display.
Almost every online poker pro uses HUD if the poker site allows you to use it. A few of tournament poker pros don’t use it, but those are in minority. For cash games pretty much every professional online poker player uses a HUD.
There are more and more online poker sites that don’t allow HUDs, but if you have the chance to use one you should definitely do so. HUD has many beneficial statistics that are impossible to remember on your own unless you have a photographic memory. And your win rate is bigger using HUD, which I am certain of.
What is a poker HUD
HUD stands for a heads-up display. It is a helpful tool, for online poker, that shows statistics of players on the table. Most often it comes together with the hand history tracker, which is exactly what it sounds like. It saves hands that you played and remembers player actions. All those player actions then get bundled together and are displayed through a HUD on your poker table. More hands you have the better, as some statistics like 4bet or 5bet would need a few thousand hands on the opponent before being fairly accurate.
As far as I can remember I used HUDs and HHs (hand histories) software. And I started playing poker professionally in 2008.
3 most popular tools, among the pros, that save the hands and display the HUD are:
- Holdem Manager
- Poker Tracker
Biggest on the market is Holdem Manager. But at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference which one you would like to use. All of them offer more than enough statistics. I currently use Holdem Manager and am happy with it.
HUD comes with many customizable options. You can simply import the most popular HUD setup – often for a price, but there are some solid free ones around there also. If you are more knowledgeable then you can create your own and color code it as you wish. You can even create your own popup on each stat displayed on HUD. Think of it as a HUD with even more statistics.
You need to be careful, all of these statistics can become overwhelming. If you are new to HUDs then I strongly advise you to use the basic HUD at the start. Later on when you master the usage of basic one start adding stats. If you decide to Import someone else HUD, spend a few hours remembering what each stat and popup is.
Why use poker HUDs
Having additional statistics on the table while you play is extremely beneficial. When you know how many hands an opponent plays preflop you get a pretty solid idea of his preflop hand combinations.
For example, from seeing on a HUD that a player raises only 15% of hands preflop, we can know he will not play 45s from early position. 15% is pretty tight and there are many better hands that fill up that 15%. The flop comes 236 and we can be fairly certain he doesn’t have a straight.
I know this might take you long to think about at the start. For someone like me, that has played more than five million poker hands, this is just an automatic thinking process that is done in a split of a second. If we would not have a HUD it would be extremely hard to follow which hands do certain opponents play. And HUD together with HHs saving software does that automatically for us.
Tracking your own stats
Poker is a very competitive game. If you are a professional player, then it is essential you keep practicing and learning new strategies.
Poker HUDs aren’t useful just for showing stats of opponents. They are often used also when it comes to improving your game. From a HUD you can see where your game might be weak at. Maybe you 3bet too much, or you don’t fold to 3bets enough, don’t Cbet enough etc. In poker, there is a lot to learn and you can be often unsure if you are playing correctly.
An easy way to get some reassurance is to compare your stats to successful professional players. It’s true having the same statistics won’t make you as good as top professionals. But there are some stats into which a solid tight-aggressive (TAG) player should fit in.
What should the basic stats of a 6max TAG cash player be? Anywhere between 20-24 VPIP (% of hands played preflop) and around 18% PFR (% of preflop raised hands) with a 3bet of 6%.
If you don’t fit into these stats and still win, then you shouldn’t really change the game too much. But if you are struggling at the poker tables, then you really should rethink your poker strategy and try to play more according to the TAG stats.
I don’t know of many people that would play quite tighter than this and struggle. Usually, they would be around BE (breakeven) players due to the passing on too many slightly profitable spots. Most often the case is player plays too loose and gets himself into too many tough spots post-flop because of that. Next time when you are tempted to open a speculative hand, remember tighter is better.
Playing GTO – Game theory optimal
In the last few years playing GTO style has become popular. It means playing optimally according to game theory. HUD stats give you the chance to really exploit opponents as you can see from the heads-up display where their leaks are (where their stats are really off from optimal ones).
GTO, on the other hand, disregards all of that and you would simply play theory optimal strategy. On low limits, you shouldn’t really be concerned with that as this is something that gets useful on higher.
On higher limits, professionals mostly play only with each other. Weaker players know they would get destroyed and have no interest in joining such games. Hands that pros play there are close to optimal and exploiting the stats almost isn’t possible anymore. GTO really comes into effect when you play against other professional poker players, as they have almost no visible leaks in their HUD stats.
On lower limits where there are always some recreational players, you should always take full advantage of HUD stats and not be too concerned about GTO. That will make you way more money in the end.
Some poker sites don’t allow poker HUDs
Maybe you don’t own the software to give you additional stats on the screen while playing. Then you might feel it’s unfair someone would have such an advantage over you. Don’t worry, you also can enjoy the game where playing fields are even for everybody. There are online poker sites that don’t allow any additional 3rd party software running. This means no additional information during the play. Here is a few of them:
The biggest and my personal favorite poker site where no HUDs are allowed is PartyPoker. You should be able to find plenty of games there. They even have anonymous tables, where you have no idea against which person you are playing against.
Poker HUDs are an essential tool for online cash games. They give a big edge to players who use them. It is not just the pros that use it. More and more recreational players are recognizing the huge value of such tools. If you are not a fan of one then maybe consider playing on poker sites that do not allow the use of HUDs. See you at the tables.