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VPIP – The Deceptive Poker Stat

From PokerVIP Poker Coaching Pro Jon Lundy

Most modern online poker players use poker tracking software (Hold’em Manager or PokerTracker). Of course the most common feature is HUD (Heads Up Display), which provides us with basic statistics information on our opponents. VPIP (Money voluntarily contributed to the pot) is the most commonly used statistic. However, many poker players don’t look further than the first number that their HUD presents them and often end up making split second decisions based on their presumptions of that number.

In this article we will explain why this is a costly leak, since these surface numbers do not tell the full story of our opponent.

A typical TAG player will have a VPIP of 18-24, which alone is enough for us to respect their raises and give them more credit than if it was an opponent with a VPIP of 26+. This is theoretically correct, but can actually be costing us a ton of money as we are not playing correctly vs this opponent due to not reading deep enough into this incredibly simple stat.

We need to use our pop up here and look at each stat in each position to see what it truly means. A player’s VPIP will change in each position and should always be a gradual progression from UTG being the tightest range to the BTN being the loosest. If we look at our opponent’s specific position and the correlating VPIP to that position, we should be able to gain an even greater advantage. 


A HUD example:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpiphud.png;

Analysis: 

  • You can see the VPIP (marked on this HUD as v) is 21. 
  • From first glance we note this as a tight player. 
  • The story checks out, but what does 21 VPIP actually mean? What is his exact range? 

Well, 21% of opening hands looks something like this:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpip2.png;

You can see from this diagram that the player (who we’ll call the villain) has an overall range of strong hands that play well in an opened pot. Therefore, it would make sense for us to give this player a lot of respect, right?

How can we beat a player like this? Do we need a stronger hand to beat them and which hands should they be?

…Well this is where the VPIP becomes deceptive, because once we scratch beneath the surface we soon discover that this player isn’t as strong as he seems. We need to look at his opening range depending on position.


Early Position (UTG): 10%

Here’s what a 10% VPIP looks like:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpip3.png;

So if we just look at the HUD we see a 21% VPIP, but now looking at EP we actually see their true VPIP from just this position which is, in fact,  just 10% of hands. An incredibly narrow range of hands. We may have called with KJ or KQ vs a 21% but if we call or play those hands vs a villain’s UTG open, we are going to get into a fair bit of trouble. So our playable range vs this player when UTG should be incredibly high value/high strength hands and post flop we should be pretty cautious and fold to aggression with our marginals. Also knowing that if we do make a hand such as a set, 2 pair, or big draw/made draw, we are more likely to get paid as the villain’s hand will be so strong that they will find it hard to fold.


Middle Position (MP) 13%:

Here’s what a 13% VPIP looks like:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpip4.png;

Again, this is very similar to EP. A super tight range which should be played similar/almost the same as EP. It involves smaller pairs and a couple more broadways but this is again a range of hands that includes just premiums and a range of hands we should be wary about and treat with respect.


Cut-Off (CO): 24%

Here’s what a 24% VPIP looks like:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpip5.png;

Now villain’s range is similar to his overall VPIP. Not much different here to a 21% range apart from a couple more suited connectors/connecting cards + a9os. Vs a range like this we can be happy calling wider but also 3-betting to steal. A lot of these hands can’t profitably call a 3b out of position vs our BTN steals such as the lower pairs, suited connectors, and off suit weak broadways such as q10 and kj. So we can apply pressure when this player opens in the cut off than if he was EP or MP. 


Button (BTN) 34%:

Here’s what a 34% VPIP looks like:

IMG-


http://www.pokerupdate.com/assets/vpip6.png;

Compared to the overall 21% open of this player, you can already see how many more hands are included in his button opening range.

  • Most suited connectors.
  • Some more offsuit connectors.
  • Weaker Kx hands, more Ax hands. 
  • The button will always be our loosest position and for good TAG players, should actually be over 40%.

The main difference to notice is the original 21% VPIP we see compared to the EP 10% open and the BTN 34% open. If we react to this player using 21%, we are going to lose so much money. We need to look at the pop up and see what the VPIP is per position, otherwise 21% looks like 21% overall whereas we have just learned that the difference can be pretty incredible.


Conclusion Points:

  • Pay Careful attention to position.
  • Don’t ever just look at the VPIP on your HUD.
  • Pay careful attention to the position of your opposition – This will greatly influence his opening VPIP %.
  • Look at what those %s really mean.
  • Play poker more profitably depending on your position and your opponents’ position!

 

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