What Is PFR in Poker and Which Number It Should Be?

HUD statistics play a significant role in your success as a poker player on online platforms. Without specific statistics, you’re at a clear disadvantage against regular players. Among HUD statistics, PFR is one number that can give you a significant competitive edge.

PFR stands for ‘pre-flop raise’ and indicates the percentage of times a player raises before the flop is revealed. The ideal PFR number for a 6-max game should be around 18, and the perfect number for a full-ring game is about 12. 

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at PFR, how to leverage this statistic in a game, and which strategies you can use against different players based on their PFR. 

The Importance of PFR

PFR goes hand in hand with another essential poker stat: VPIP. To properly understand PFR, I’ll first give you a brief idea of VPIP

VPIP stands for ‘Voluntarily Put Money in Pot’ and shows how likely a player is to put any money into the pot before the flop is revealed. VPIP is calculated by dividing the number of times a player puts money into the pot by the number of hands they’ve played. 

For example, if someone voluntarily puts money into the pot twenty times out of a hundred hands, their VPIP percentage is 20%.

After you pair it with VPIP, PFR becomes an essential stat. You can examine both stats together to find leaks on your game and aim for a more balanced playstyle. But they truly start to shine when you use them to react to other players’ strategies.

I know what you’re thinking: PFR and VPIP sound pretty similar. And you’re not entirely wrong. A player’s PFR forms part of their VPIP percentage as well. Let me explore the difference a little further.

PFR is often combined together with VPIP to get a great feeling of how the opponents are playing. I have a great detailed article on what is VPIP and why it matters on this link.

pfr explained in poker
PFR is one of the crucial stats in poker. Very often players have it positioned immediately after VPIP on HUDs. It tells you a lot about the type of hands the opponent is playing which you can use to your advantage. Do they raise preflop too much? Great, you can 3bet them lighter for value. They raise very little? That is fine too, you can play aggressively on small boards as they most likely play a lot of broadway hands.

The HUD from above is from Holdem Manager. Want to see alternatives and my preferred HUD? Follow this link.

The Difference Between VPIP and PFR

The most straightforward distinction between VPIP and PFR is as follows: 

  • VPIP includes any calls and raises a player makes before the flop is revealed. 
  • PFR includes only the raises a player makes before the flop is revealed. 

Essentially, your VPIP percentage refers to any pre-flop raises (PFR) plus any calls you make before the flop. As such, your VPIP percentage will always be higher than PFR. 

The distinction between the two is vital for giving you in-depth information about an opponent’s playing style. A player’s VPIP tells you whether they have a tight or loose playing style. 

If someone has a high VPIP, it means they have a loose style and are willing to enter more pots irrespective of the cards they’re playing with. Conversely, someone with a low VPIP has a tighter playing style and will be selective about the hands they choose to play. 

And here’s where PFR can help you decide how to strategize: 

  • Opponents who play a large percentage of the hands you’re dealt (high VPIP) and typically raise them pre-flop (high PFR), can be classified as a loose/aggressive player. 
  • Opponents who play a significant portion of hands they’re dealt (high VPIP) but rarely ever raise before the flop (low PFR), can be classified as loose/passive players. 

In other words, PFR lets you determine if a player is passive or aggressive. Someone who tends to call most bets pre-flop is a passive player, preferring to match an opponent’s raise so they can see the flop. Players who raise pre-flop more often are aggressive betters, choosing to dictate the flow of the game and push people out of the pot if needed. 

As you can imagine, you’re sure to find players with various combinations of these two statistics, indicating different playing styles.

How To Use PFR

PFR on its own doesn’t give us much information on how to strategize. But combined with VPIP, it can be an effective tool to get ahead of your opponents and profit from your games. 

And don’t forget to take a look at yourself too. Monitoring your PFR can help you make better decisions and fix leaks in your game. Ideally, your PFR should be roughly 70% of your VPIP number, which means you should be raising 70% of the time you enter any pot. 

For example, if your VPIP is 20%, your PFR should be around 14%. Winning players have a PFR number that’s quite close to their VPIP. Below, numbers can significantly vary. Here’s a breakdown of the kind of player you should expect based on their VPIP and PFR numbers. 

VPIP/PFR Ratio Player Type
High VPIP / Low PFR (e.g. 70/10, 60/15)
Players in this category play far too many hands, but they play passively. Their playing style involves calling a lot. These types are often called ‘calling stations’.
Normal VPIP / Low PFR (e.g. 18/1, 25/5)These players tend to play a regular number of hands, but will only call raises when they have a premium hand. They are called ‘rocks’. If they happen to raise pre-flop, it’s likely they have a strong hand. 
Low VPIP / Low PFR (e.g. 10/8, 12/10)This type of player will play with a tight range of hands (top pairs, premium cards, etc.). They tend to bet aggressively when they do, and they continue the aggression post-flop as well. They are known as ‘nits’. 
High VPIP/ High PFR (e.g. 42/37)These players are called ‘maniacs’ in the poker world. They prefer to play flamboyantly and are involved in most hands, making wild raises.
Regular VPIP / Regular PFR (e.g. 15/14, 19/17, 25/23)Regular, professional players have a small difference between their VPIP and PFR ratios. Both tend to fall within a normal range.

It’s crucial to note that while regular professionals have a negligible difference between their VPIP and PFR, each player will still have a distinct playing style. Even among professionals, players with higher numbers will tend to play a loose-aggressive game, while those with lower numbers will play a more tight-passive game. 

Video: VPIP & PFR – Understanding the Ultimate Poker HUD Combo

How To Play Using PFR

Now you know that different PFR reflect different playstyles. But that’s only the beginning: you should use this information to build strategies that counter your opponent’s.

Having played over 5 million hands, I’ve come up with a few tricks that help me react accordingly to opponents with any PFR. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Calling Station (High VPIP / Low PFR)

Calling stations are the best players to have at your table since they tend to play most hands. It’s as though they’ve turned off the fold option and want to see every flop. Of course, this can get frustrating, but with the right mindset, you can take advantage of these players to make some good profits. 

The most effective strategy against a calling station is to avoid bluffing, as they’ll probably call you anyway. If you’re playing with nothing, they may potentially win the pot. 

Focus on betting against this type of player. Their calls will help build a bigger pot. This way, when you hit a decent hand, the payoff will be larger.

When it comes to value betting, you don’t have to be too strict about it. The top pair on the board, and sometimes even the middle pair, is enough to win against a calling station. 

Rocks (Normal VPIP/Low PFR)

A rock player will play a small number of hands and seldom raise. 

Rocks play a similar percentage of hands as other types but are extremely tight. This style can be exploited early on by getting them to concede their blinds before making it to the flop. 

You can either bluff them out of a hand or value bet them. However, if one of these players becomes active and you have a subpar hand, it’s best to fold. 

Nits (Low VPIP/Low PFR) 

The term ‘nit’ is often used interchangeably with ‘rock,’ but I’d like to make a distinction between both styles. Nits will play only a small percentage of the hands they’re dealt, which means you’ll barely see any action from their side. 

The most effective strategy against a nit is to fold when they raise or continue playing after the flop. They’ve likely made a strong hand: most nits won’t play anything other than premium pairs or the nuts. 

Maniacs (High VPIP/High PFR)

Maniacs can be quite the terror to play against. They call far too many hands and often make outrageous bets and raises. They also enjoy bluffing people out of hands, and it can be challenging to counter them when you’ve only got a moderately strong hand. 

The term maniac can be misleading. It might lead you to assume they’re naturally insane players without a clear strategy. However, a maniac is a player who seeks absolute control over the game, dictating its flow. If you can disrupt this strategy of theirs, you’re good to go. 

Most times, when a maniac bets on the flop and turn, they’re likely to bet on the river as well. If you’ve been playing a strong hand, don’t assume they hit the perfect card and fold on the river. That’s just part of a maniac’s strategy. 

A maniac thrives on weakness, but you can use this habit against them. Avoid betting or raising too much when you’ve got a strong hand; after all, the maniac will do it for you anyway. Betting on a strong hand will signal that you have the advantage, and the maniac will quickly fold. 

Conversely, attempt to bet aggressively with marginal hands, especially if you’re a tight player. This will give the maniac the impression that you’ve hit the jackpot. 

Finally, when playing against a maniac, focus on calling and checking post-flop, but re-raise them pre-flop if possible. This will disrupt their usual playstyle.

Video: PFR Analysis – How to exploit opponents and print money

How To Track PFR

Now you can clearly see why PFR is a vital HUD stat in the online poker world. Any player worth their money has invested in a HUD to help them take their poker game to the next level. 

If you’re looking to track your PFR and fix leaks in your game, here are a few HUDs that can help:

  • Poker Tracker 4: Poker Tracker 4 is a premium tracking software that provides a lot more than just HUD services. The program even has a leak finder that can help you figure out weaknesses in your game so you can work to improve them. 
  • Holdem Manager 3: Holdem manager has been around for years, and the latest version of the software has hundreds of different HUD stats you can choose from aside from VPIP and PFR. Additionally, HM3 provides a graphic representation of the stats, making them easier to gauge at first glance.
  • Poker Copilot 6: Poker Copilot 6 has become popular due to its simple design the easy-to-digest format that it uses to present information. This allows new players to quickly figure out what different statistics mean and what they should do with them. 
  • Hand2Note: Hand2Note is a reasonably new HUD with easy customization options. You can even opt for their 30-day free trial to see if the software works for you. This HUD also provides tutorials to help players understand how to read poker stats. 
  • Drive HUD: The best part about this HUD is how streamlined it is, making it effortless to use. There’s also much less text on the screen, which means you won’t get overwhelmed by all the different bits of info most HUDs throw in your face. The only downside is that Drive HUD only runs on Windows.

Final Thoughts 

While PFR offers vital information on your opponent’s —and your own— playing style, it’s only applicable when coupled with VPIP. Additionally, PFR means nothing if you can’t devise strategies against people based on their number.

To understand PFR better, play a lot at online tables and see the different playing styles that emerge based on someone’s PFR. Once you get a feel for it, you’ll have a more straightforward strategy for handling specific types of players.