Analyzing a Hand History in Poker

I suggested some time ago that online players need to analyze their hand history more often. Hand histories and poker trackers are excellent resources to gain insight into how you play poker. These are real life results of real money games. Good players who want to improve realize they can't focus on what they can't control (other players), but instead focus on what they can control (improving their own game). Crunching the numbers and finding new strategies for improving is one of the best ways to improve at Texas hold'em.

Analyze Your VPIP

VPIP or VP$IP stands for "voluntary put $ in pot". This tracks how much money you put into the pot, besides the big blinds and small blinds. VPIP is a good way to get an idea if you're a loose player or a tight player. If your VPIP is $1, the means you're only playing hands with aces and kings in them. If you had a VPIP stat at 100%, this would mean you're playing every single hand, regardless of strength. In the industry, anything under about 14% or 15% is considered way too tight. This player is missing out on opportunities, while playing predictable poker. A statistic in the next 10 percentiles, between 14% and 23%, is still considered tight. A person with this stat is playing premium hands from solid positions. The selection of their starting hands is considered strong. They might be missing out on a few opportunities, but their play is solid enough.

When your VPIP is in the next ten percentiles, between 24% and 32%, then this is considered a semi-loose player. You're likely to be playing hands you're speculating on. That's not too bad if your post-flop game is high quality. You might even be as profitable as a tight player. If your post-flop game is bad, then you're throwing away money with this style. Anything between 33% and 40% is considered playing loose. You're playing too many hands and putting yourself at a disadvantage way too often. If you have exceptional post-flop skills, this style can work, but that's quite rare. Those reading this article probably don't have those skills, so tighten up your game. Finally, any VPIP 40% or higher is play way too loose. This person may prefer action more than they prefer winning. If your stats are at this level and you don't mean to be, it's time to start learning how to play poker correctly.

PFR Percentage

The PRF% stat tells you how much you're raising pre-flop. This percentage should conform to your VPIP percentage. It doesn't have to be exact, but the PFR % should be close. If not, you're limping into the pot too often. You might be what's called a "calling station".

Post-Flop Aggression Factor

The post-flop aggression factor or "AF" shows how aggressive your play is once the flop has come. On some sights, AF is a catch-all stat for aggressiveness, offering insight into separate pre-flop, flop, river, and turn bets. In this case, this stat might be called PFAF, for post-flop aggression factor. Since this varies from one casino to another, I can't suggest a percentile range, though 2.5% is considered a target number on some sites (greater than 1 on others, though). Let me suggest you learn the proper range for the website you use for gambling by reading players forums for that casino. You want to play with a certain amount of aggression, to put pressure on your opponents, instead of letting them put pressure on you. Anyone who's played no limit online Texas hold'em knows this is easier said than done, because the trapper can become the trapped real fast, when you become pot-committed.

Went to Showdown Percentage

The "went to showdown percentage" is abbreviated WTSD%. Related statistic shows how often you win when you go to showdown. This factor tends to have the acronym W$SD-. These percentages are a good indication of how well you play post-flop, so pay particular attention to them. Do you know when to walk away from a pot? It's one of the hardest things to do in gambling, but knowing when to fold is one thing which separates the good players from the great ones. As they say, some of the best decisions made in Texas holdem are the decisions to fold.