Online, particularly when multi-tabling, it is hard to notice who is playing a loose style and who is playing tight. In the same vein, it is equally hard to evaluate who is playing aggressively and who is playing passively. Therefore, PT3 includes, by default, two primary pieces of information a new user should be referring to: the Voluntary Put Into Pot (VPIP) and Preflop Raise (PFR). The two gauges make up part of the default HUD setup for PT3. The two data points should be your entrance criteria for a hand against an opponent. Therefore, I have come to rely on PT3's two aforementioned stats to help assist me with my decisions. Granted, these stats are not perfect; i.e. you want to have an adequate hand sample size of 50 or more (BARE MINIMUM), and those numbers, on the surface, don't give scenario descriptions (such as raising position, tendency to steal, etc.). However, they do give a good idea as to the holdings and style in which the opponent is playing.
For example, if I see a player with a VPIP 35 / PFR 6 over an adequate hand sample size, I can safely assume that although his limping range is wide (likely including all Aces, suits, connectors, and the standard pairs, suited connectors and broadway) and his raising range is very tight (limited to pocket pairs TT+ and / or AK & AQ). When I see that 35/6 player limp, I generally want to raise him pre flop because if he calls, I generally know I'll be able to able to push him off the hand post flop (with the knowledge that his wide range misses a lot more than my more clearly defined range). When I see him raise, I'm going to be folding out everything but the very top of my range (referring back to his raising range of 6 PFR). Is this perfect? No. In live poker, I can visualize my opponent, and make reads based on what I see his physical actions are, coupled with his bet sizing and timing. However, online, we are not blessed with such tells. Therefore, we are forced to go with the hard data we have, which is the hand histories. Hand histories are automatically saved on your hard drive when you're playing a hand. Several sites also give you a chance to buy hand histories.
Another stat in the default HUD configuration includes a stat called aggression factor which measures a player's tendency to bet or raise vs. check or call. It is a basic measure of his or her tendencies. I put little stock in this number, however, because if a player is a 4/4 and has an AF of 20 over an adequate sample size, he's clearly playing AA, KK, QQ and should be leading / betting most flops, turns and rivers (thus making that type of player exploitable because he'll bet my sets for me, or I can dump the hand when I miss).
Besides the default HUD configuration, I am constantly looking at other data, which I sometimes include in my posts. This data can be viewed by clicking on the player's associated HUD window:
- Cbet flop: The percentage of time the player will lead a raised flop. This number is useful in determining whether I can check / raise the flop if I'm out of position, and take note of my opponent's action when in position (i.e. if his cbet = 100% and he checks the dry flop, does that mean he hit a monster or missed entirely).
- Attempt to Steal (ATS): The percentage of time a player will attempt to steal the blinds, pre-flop. This number is an assessment of any time a pot is folded around to the player in the CO, BTN or SB and opens the pot. At the level I play ($25NL / $50NL), this number does not seem to be all that important, as I have taken the tact of stealing north of 50% lately, without any pushback from my opponents. They either don't notice the constant steal, or don't care. Once can actually make a living (not literally) off of stealing blinds. On the flip side, I have noticed that the bigger ATS I've seen is in the neighborhood of 30%, which leads me to believe my opponents are not doing the same. However, I've seen opponents around 50%, and I know that if it's against my blinds, I can re-raise or call / lead and usually take down the pot for extra profit.
NOTE: If you are going after blinds continually, you should note that it is tough to steal from short-stackers. Their response is a simple shove, which they can employ quite effectively. They know you're stealing, and they know you can't call a 20BB 3bet with T2o.
- 3bet pre-flop: The percentage of time a player will 3 bet pre-flop. Critical for certain situations; I have found players who will 3bet my ATS's and I know are coming up with air, making it safer to 4bet them back. I have found players who are 3betting every raise, which tells me that they are 3betting light (and getting lots of folds). I have found players who 3bet 1-2% of the time... they're only 3betting AA, KK.
- Folds SB / BB to steal: If I find a lot of resistance from my targeted steals, I will give up raising my BTN with 72o and range upwards, limiting my steals to a more restrictive QTo steal instead.