Lots Of Players Use Poker Stats, But Not Very Well

I want to avoid coming off sounding elitist or condescending here, but there’s no good way to say this. I’ve yet to come across a single player in my life, even among top players, who know how to use poker statistics to their full advantage.

poker information explosion
Give them some very empowering lessons.

Sure, some players do use them fairly well, but for whatever reason rely on information that really isn’t all that accurate. If you read the previous lesson in this series, you’ll remember that I want to look at direct stats in given situations, rather than less accurate ones which don’t really tell us what we really need to know.

From what I’ve been told, there isn’t really any demand for the kind of stuff we’re talking about. So companies like Holdem Manager aren’t interesting in giving it to people, since people aren’t really making any noise, and the little that I and a few others who I’ve taught this all to isn’t loud enough to be heard.

The Tools Out There Right Now Are Powerful Enough

Enough of that though, we do have some decently useful tools to use right now anyway, and we can make some real big hay when them, especially since very few people use them. So there’s a few things we can set up on our HUD and we can also use Holdem Manager 1’s active player window, even though they didn’t put it in version 2 because they said “no one uses it” so why bother.

There’s no way though that I can teach you everything there is to know about this in this blog, or should I say I could but that would take dozens of articles on this alone and there’s so many other things to talk about in this series alone to even consider that. However, I can teach you some of the essentials, the things that you’ll need to teach your players to get enough of a grasp on things to be able to make some significant improvements in their game.

I Want To See Players Really Exposed, Not Just Get Glimpses

The basis for our strategies should always be to learn how an opponent plays, and then come up with counter strategies. This is level 1 thinking of course, but there’s lots we can do at level 1 if we have the right information. That’s really what poker stats do, expose their level 1 tendencies. The more we know here, the better we can target them, and then when they adjust, to the extent they do, then we can look to react to that.

No one really adjusts all the way even if they are very good players, so the more we know about them, the more that will get left unadjusted. As they do, then this of course brings in higher levels of thinking, and we can look to outwit them on this as we normally would do.

So this is beyond the scope of these lessons though, and the players that read our poker lessons are pretty much all level 1 players anyway, although they will need to formulate a good strategy that they can use to adjust from, and the better their base strategy, the better they will do, period.

So what we want is to know exactly how an opponent normally plays, and there’s no better way to do that then to look at the distribution of their actions in given situations. So that’s what direct stats tell us, how often the bet, raise, call, check, and fold in the situation that we are faced with.

Any Style Is Exploitable If We Know What They Use

One of the first things I teach my poker students is to not have a preferred style at all. Instead we must be more like an amoeba, changing into different shapes as the conditions dictate. In fact, will be using their desire to play a certain way a priori against them, and that’s not only the big thing we will be using against them, it’s the entire thing.

We not only want and need to know what style they play generally, we want and need to know how they play, exactly how they play, in the situation we are faced with at any given time.

So the base line for all of this is their percentages of actions, and from this, we can derive everything. We can know how much they fold and therefore how much fold equity we have. We can even derive this mathematically.

Knowing Where We Stand From What They Do

We also know how often they don’t fold and therefore what average hand strength they have when they call, bet, or raise, and are able to derive average holdings for each of these actions individually.

So if I know an opponent folds half the time in a given situation, and it’s just us left in the pot, I know I can make a standard bet anytime I want and have enough fold equity to make a profit from it regardless of what I have. People play so tight these days by the way that you can hammer away at most players without even needing to look at your cards.

Even a lot of good players don’t realize the correct folding frequency, and end up folding too much, which is the main reason it pays to be aggressive. Being tight overall is one thing, but when we can see exactly when they are doing this and by how much, that’s mighty helpful to say the least.

We Can See Everything From Here

We can also see where they are too loose, where they are too passive, where they are too aggressive, and so on. We can also look to the stats we have on future streets and see where they may exhibit other patters, such as firing barrels and giving up, firing too many barrels, folding busted draws, and what have you.

From the percentages that they stay in the hand, calling, betting, and raising, we will know what they usually do this with and either look for weak spots to take them down later based upon their tendency to give up, or to look to show down better cards then they do just based upon these frequencies.

So this all gives us a lot of power, and I’ll go into some examples of all of this in the next session, which will be the meat and potatoes of all of this that you can pass along.