Poker has always been a game of information. The player with the most accurate information typically brings home the cash. Serious competitors do all they can to be the player with an informational advantage.
One of the most important tools for relaying information is our tracking software and HUD. We should absolutely look to ensure that we have the latest and most up-to-date technology. To use a military analogy, we don’t want to be running around with a sword and shield when our enemy just constructed his first stealth bomber. It doesn’t matter how bad he is at warfare, we are going to have a tough time brining him down.
Despite the obvious importance of technology in an online environment, many players are hitting the tables with hugely outdated setups. It’s very difficult to compete at a high level when we are simply outmatched on the technology front. In this article we’ll discuss what we mean by the term next generation HUD, and how we can make sure we play poker on the cutting edge of technology.
Evolution of HUDs
There was a time in history where players didn’t have HUDs. When HUDs first came into existence they were highly basic, and at the same time remarkably difficult to get up and running. The HUDs weren’t integrated into our tracking software like they are today but involved running an addon script alongside our tracker.
Nevertheless, the best players figured out how to get HUDs running and enjoyed a nice edge against their opponents as result. The average HUD at the time perhaps consisted of 3 or 4 stats, VPIP/PFR/3bet/AF or something similar. We might laugh at such a setup in the modern era, but it was enough to provide a significant advantage at that time.
HUDs eventually became more commonplace to the point where the vast majority of serious players were using HUD setups. So how did expert players sustain their edge over average regs? The experts simply used a wider array of stats on their HUD and knew how to use them effectively.
In 2018, HUDs are more advanced than ever. The average reg often has a HUD containing quite a varied amount of stats, covering different areas of the game. The elite still have the edge however, since HUD configurations offer poker players so much more in the modern world. We’ll refer to any HUD package utilizing ultra-modern features as a next generation HUD.
So which features does a next generation HUD have that a regular HUD does not? Let’s list some examples.
Range Based Stats – Most stats offered by traditional trackers are purely frequency based stats. This means that they look at how often a player gets a certain opportunity and calculate how frequently he takes that specific opportunity. Examples include cbet stats, 3bet stats, fold flop-cbet to raise, pretty much all of the regular stat we are used to using.
If we were interested in information regarding what type of hole-cards villain shows up with in those spots however we are out of luck.
Next generation stats can take advantage of hole-card information and reveal which type of hands villain shows up with when he takes a certain line. An example application of this might a stat called “river cbet is a bluff”. For years players have used a selection of frequency based stats in an attempt to figure out how often villain is bluffing the river when he triple barrels. They might look at PFR, cbet Flop, Cbet Turn, Cbet River, River Afq and River AF and make an educated guess. This is a highly inefficient, and frequently results in bad conclusions regarding villain’s actual bluffing frequency. What we need is a stat that simply tells us how often villain is bluffing when he takes a certain line. We can now create such stats using next generation HUDs.
Heat Maps – As an extension of range-based stats, it’s possible to see heat maps which show the type of hands our opponents are showing up with in various preflop scenarios. Of course, it can only take into account hands that reach showdown, but we’ll still get a much clearer picture regarding our opponent’s range than any traditional HUD would give us. (Traditional HUDs would just show us a frequency rather than giving any clue regarding the distribution of various holdings within the range).
Postflop Diagrams – These are similar to heat maps but are especially designed for postflop ranges. They show which types of hands opponent’s show up with in postflop scenarios. This is significantly more useful than simply getting a frequency from our tracking software. Notecaddy in particular has a feature called “Caddy Scatter” which shows how strong players are when they make bets on certain streets and links it to their bet-sizing.
Badges / Auto-colouring – It’s possible to set up code to add “badges” to the HUD based on certain traits that our opponents exhibit. A badge is a small icon that appears on the HUD panel when certain criteria on our opponent is satisfied. By extension we can also use tracking software to automatically colour-code the playerpool based on their tendencies. This allows quick recognition of opponent types without the need to manually leave a tag on everyone.
Dynamic HUDs – It’s possible for the HUD stats we have to change based on the type of opponent we are facing, the size of the effective stacks or the street we are on. For example, if CO opens when we are on the BTN, our HUD panel can show specific fold-to-3bet information for BTN-vs-CO scenarios. If our opponent is short-stacked, the HUD can be programmed to only show information generated at that stack size. Our HUD can even be programmed to display different stats depending on whether we have categorized villain as a reg or fish.
Detailed Sizing – A big component of next generation HUDs is the ability to be more specific with sizing info. Most decent players have the common stats broken down into bet-sizing ranges. I.e they don’t just have “Cbet Flop” but they have different cbet stats for all of the possible bet sizings their opponent might use.
One excellent feature of the Hand-2-Note software is that it automatically constructs sizing information for every stat we create. For example, if were to create a “turn cbet” stat, it would automatically show how often our opponent is using different bet-sizings when he cbets the turn. Alongside all of the sizing information will be the automatically generated postflop diagrams breaking down the distribution of holdings within each bet-sizing range. The power of this is immense compared to the regular HUD setups of a few years back.
Board Textures – Most traditional HUDs are limited in their ability to break down various actions by board textures. With next generation HUDs we can see how often our opponents cbet on different types of texture. We might find that they cbet much more frequently on dry boards for example. With regular HUDs we are limited to an overall stat across all textures.
Vs Reg Stats – Traditional HUDs show our opponent’s tendencies against everyone. Naturally our opponent might play differently depending on whether his opponent is a reg or a fish. He also might play differently against us compared to how he plays against the rest of the player pool. Next generation HUDs allow us to break everything down into “vs-reg” stats and “vs-hero” stats.
Advanced Population Analysis – Next generation HUDs allow for a more advanced level of population analysis. This allows us to get detailed information on the average stats of the population in important scenarios. We can hence generate stronger default game-plans than we would be able to if we were using an out of date tracker. Many elite professionals are currently using population research as one of their main forms of study.
How to Get a Next Generation HUD?
Any player just using a standard version of Poker Tracker or Hold’em manager won’t be able to make use of next generation features. There are two main options –
– Get the Notecaddy upgrade for Poker Tracker or Hold’em Manager
– Get the Hand-2-Note software
Hardcore players might wish to code their own definitions for maximum control over the information relayed by their HUD. Others might choose to purchase a pre-made HUD package, since constructing a package from scratch could take weeks or even months. With a bog-standard tracker, we will always be limited to the stats that come with the software. By expanding to Notecaddy or subscribing to Hand-2-Note, we’ll virtually be able to create any stat we can imagine!
Keep in mind that many of the HUD packages out there are created by coders who don’t fully understand the mechanics involved in becoming a strong poker player. Where possible it’s always best to build the package ourselves or buy from a respected high-stakes professional.