Online poker and Heads Up Displays (HUDs) have changed the landscape of the game and the possible strategies you can execute at any given moment. One of the most important statistics you’ll see on a HUD is ‘VPIP.’ What does it mean?
VPIP in poker means ‘Voluntarily Put Money in Pot’ and refers to how often (or not) a player is likely to put money into the pot before the flop is revealed. VPIP matters as it gives you an insight into an opponent’s style of play and allows you to adapt your game accordingly.
As a professional poker player with over 5 million hands under my belt, I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of using your HUD stats to improve your game. In this article, I’ll take a deeper look at VPIP, why it’s so important and how you can use this number to your advantage.
It is no secret that professional poker players love to use HUDs because among others it can quickly tell you who is having a wrong VPIP and we know exactly how to exploit that in our favor.
VPIP: The Most Important HUD Stat
The standard formula for VPIP looks something like this:
Number of times players puts money in the pot / Number of hands played
So you know that if someone has played a hundred hands but only puts money into the pot fifteen times, their VPIP ratio is 15%. It’s crucial to note that VPIP is calculated on the number of hands a player is willing to play before the flop is revealed.
VPIP doesn’t include big or small blinds as these may be forced bets and are usually the bare minimum most players would be willing to put to see the flop.
VPIP will quickly tell you (after at least ten hands) whether you’re up against a tight or a loose player. Using this information, you can determine which hands are worth playing and when to fold.
A Good VPIP Ratio
While the VPIP ratio will differ from player to player, winning players typically fall within a range. Poker is a game of skill with plenty of luck involved, and playing too many hands is a surefire way to lose all your money quickly. As such, it’s crucial to figure out the ideal ratio and try staying within that range.
It’s important to mention here that the VPIP ratio will vary based on whether you’re playing a 6-max table or a full-ring poker game.
At a 6-max table, there are fewer players to call or raise you once you’ve put your money in the pot. As such, you can afford to play a higher number of hands. At a full-ring game with nine players, there’s a higher chance of you getting re-raised from an early position, so you want to choose your hands more carefully.
Ideal VPIP for 6-Max Games
The ideal VPIP will vary depending on your style of play. Some pros play aggressively, while others prefer a tight playing style. Your ratio will differ based on your style of play, but there’s a range within which winning players tend to fall.
A VPIP range between 15% and 28% usually categorizes regular, professional poker players. However, either end can be pretty extreme, and solid players fall between 19% and 25% VPIP.
You’ll also notice that VPIP ranges tend to go up in high-stakes games as players have a wider range to work with, given that the rake is typically lower.
Ideal VPIP for Full-Ring Games
As mentioned, full-ring games usually have a lower VPIP as the additional number of players require a tighter playing style. This lower ratio is due to two main reasons:
- If you open from an early position, people are less likely to call because rarely does anyone open a full-ring game unless they have a strong hand.
- It’s harder to raise with a moderate hand from an early position as players further down the line can re-raise you.
As such, with so many variables involved, people tend to play far fewer hands at full-ring games. The ideal VPIP ratio for regular poker players at a full-ring game typically lies between 11% and 16%. Of course, more skilled players will have higher VPIPs even at full-ring tables.
VPIP for Tournaments
During tournaments, a player’s VPIP will shift as the game progresses. A smaller stack size will require tight play, and so you’ll find lower VPIPs in the early stages of the tournament.
However, as the game progresses and stack sizes grow, the VPIP ratio may increase as players can afford to play a wider range of hands.
How To Use VPIP in Poker
The whole point of having this ratio is to figure out how to play against a particular opponent. VPIP ratio can give you valuable information on responding in certain instances.
But before you figure out how to use it, let’s try and ascribe a particular playing style to different players based on their VPIP. Here’s a breakdown.
|0% – 10%
|11% – 20%
|21% – 30%
|31% – 40%
Note: Allow for at least ten hands before you take the VPIP as an accurate reflection of a player’s style. In some cases, a loose player may pick up a string of dead cards and choose to sit out.
Conversely, a tight player may get lucky with five consecutive hands, prompting them to play every pot as a result.
So allow your HUD to track at least a few plays before you zero in on a player’s particular style.
Based on the VPIP ratio, you can go so far as to construct a hand range for each player at your table. While a hand range isn’t accurate, it can help you decide when to enter the pot and when to fold.
Here’s a rough estimate of the kind of hands when a player has entered the pot, based on their VPIP:
- 0% – 10%: Expect a premium pair (aces, kings, queens), any high pair, or two broadway cards (kings, queens, and jacks).
- 11% – 20%: All the card combinations of the previous type along with any suited aces (ace and another card of the same suit) and suited connectors (e.g., nine and ten of hearts).
- 21% – 30%: All of the above combinations along with most suited kings and united one gappers (cards with a gap in between preventing them from being connectors. Eg. five and seven of clubs).
- 31% – 40%: All of the above, along with some suited two gappers as well.
- 40% and above: There’s no point constructing a hand range here as such loose players might be playing with anything.
You can quickly narrow down your pre and post-flop actions based on these numbers and the hand range.
How To Play Against Low VPIP Ratio
Tight players have a lower VPIP and play fewer hands in any given game. The best strategy against a tight player is to play aggressively against them, especially before the flop.
For example, if a hand is folded to you when you’re on the button, and you see two players after you with a VPIP between 0% and 10%. In this position, consider raising (even if it’s a bluff) so they fold and you can steal the blinds.
By pressuring tight players, you can force them to repeatedly surrender and concede many pots to you, which will add up over time.
However, if you’re in a pot with a tight player, you need to be careful as they’re likely to call when they have a strong hand. However, you want to see the flop and place them in a range.
For example, if there are any aces or broadway cards on the table, you can bet your opponent has hit something significant as they’re only likely to play within that range. It’s best to check and eventually fold if they raise.
However, if you see a flop with no premium or broadway cards and you have an overpair, it pays to keep them in the pot till the river. This way, if you do bet and they fold, you still steal the blinds.
How To Play Against High VPIP Ratio
A high VPIP ratio indicates a loose, aggressive style of play, and these players can be pretty tricky to handle. The most effective strategy against loose players is to call rather than raise them or bluff them out, as they’re likely to call most bets.
However, their aggression can be used against them when you have a strong hand pre-flop. For example, if you score pocket aces, it’s best to go big on the hand because you can rest assured a loose player will call or re-raise. Raising them can help build the pot size so you can make a significant amount when you win.
The worst thing you want to do is bluff a loose-aggressive person if you don’t know their hand range or have a moderate hand. Typically, these players are great readers and can quickly tell when you’re bluffing or value betting.
So the best strategy against a loose player is to let them build the value of the pot and steal the winnings when you have a strong hand. Patience is key to beating this type of poker player.
The Best Way to Track VPIP
You can track your opponents’ VPIP using a HUD, available on most poker tracking software online. While you can install a separate HUD for this purpose, it’s best to invest in poker tracking software as the tools can help significantly elevate your game.
If you’re looking for an effective HUD, here are five of the best HUDs you can find online.
- Poker Tracker 4: Touted as the best HUD out there, PT4 offers unmatched compatibility and ease of use. The software works on various poker platforms and even provides a ‘Leak Tracker’ to help you tighten up your game. I use it daily and it comes as a no surprise it made it on my list of best poker HUDs for poker.
- Holdem Manager 3: HM3 has been the leading HUD since 2008 and offers several different customization options. Aside from VPIP, you can use Holdem Manager to reveal various statistics about your opponents.
- Hand2Note: Hand2Note is a newer HUD and even comes with a thirty-day free trial for you to decide if it works for you or not. This software provides helpful tutorials to understand how a HUD works and what the stats mean.
- Poker Copilot 6: PC6 happens to be the first HUD that was ever compatible with Mac, making it a delight for Mac users. Thanks to its simple design and multiple filters, this HUD stands out, allowing players to customize based on what they’re seeking.
- DriveHUD: This HUD makes it easier for new users to digest the presented information by replacing the text with color-coded stats and icons.
VPIP is an essential statistic to grasp if you want to take your poker career to the next level. After ten years in professional play, I can vouch for VPIP readings as a great tool to get the upper hand on your competitors. Analysing VPIPs can give you a strategic advantage over your opponent and increase the odds of your taking home the pot.