Using statistics has been a big part of my poker success and without them it would be extremely difficult to multi-table the higher limits. I know several successful players that do not use stats but they’re giving away some edge by doing so. Poker is a game of incomplete information. The more information you have, the better decisions you’re able to make. The better decisions you’re able to make, the greater your chance of winning. Statistics are exactly that, information about your opponents.
However, if this information is misinterpreted, then obviously it can be detrimental. For example, looking at small sample sizes and drawing conclusions based on them is a common mistake. If you only have 75 hands on an opponent, then it’s nearly useless to know they raise the turn 25% of the time or fold their big blind to a steal 60% of the time. Another example of misusing stats is misunderstanding the statistic itself. For example, when I used to use Poker Tracker, they lumped 3 positions into 1 (small blind, button, and cutoff) when looking at a person’s attempt to steal %. So, if a person had a 40% attempt to steal, you only knew the average of those three positions was 40% but didn’t know the specific % of each position. If you just assumed they were raising 40% from each of those positions or tried to average them out somehow, it was very likely you were drawing incorrect conclusions about their range.
If you are able to understand and interpret statistics correctly then they are of great benefit. Here are a few of the lesser known statistics I use and how I interpret them when playing. I believe I use twelve different stats when I play and all of them influence my decisions from time to time. I also make use of the pop-up box in HEM for various stats.
RFI by Position – Raise First In % by Position
This one is pretty self-explanatory but it’s one of, if not the most important stat I use because it allows me to put my opponent on a fairly narrow range of hands from the start of the hand. PFR or pre-flop raise% pales in comparison to this stat. Instead of knowing your opponent raises 23% of all his hands in a 6-handed game you can know exactly what % of their hands they are raising from each position. This can help a lot with deciding whether to 3-bet an opponent who is raising from a specific position. It’s also very useful in determining which hands to defend from the big blind. For example, there’s a big difference between an UTG raiser in a 6-handed game with an RFI of 19% vs and RFI of 25%. An RFI of 25% means it’s likely the player is raising any Ace suited from UTG. That makes a lot more hands playable against their range. It also makes hands like AT and AJ a lot more appealing to 3-bet if you’re on the button or in the small blind.
This is an extremely useful stat but one that needs a large sample size before you have confidence in it. One of the most difficult decisions in limit hold-em is whether to bet the turn in position after you’ve raised pre-flop, bet the flop, and your opponent has called. I’ve found some opponents to have CRT%’s in the 20-35% range which is very high. These are the types of players you should be checking back marginal/weak holdings with showdown value like ace high and bottom pair. There are also many players, including several good ones, that have low CRT%’s, in the 5-15% range. Against these players, you can bet some of your marginal made hands for value and narrow your opponent’s range if you do get check-raised.
This statistic also allows you to better define your opponent’s flop check-raising range. Players with a very low CRT%, generally have a wider flop check-raising range. And conversely players with a high CRT%, have a narrower flop check-raising range. You’ll often find players with high CRT%’s wait until the turn with their good made hands like top pair or better. So, when a player like this check-raises the flop, I give more weight to weak hands, draws, and outright bluffs.
Here’s a river spot where I use an opponent’s CRT% to help me:
Let’s say you raise on the button with 55 and the big blind calls. The flop is KJ8, you bet and your opponent calls. He checks the turn and you check behind. He leads the river. If your opponent has a high c/r turn stat, he has a wider flop calling range – it’s likely that he’s calling with top pair and middle pair at least some of the time so folding is likely the correct action. If this same opponent had a very low c/r turn stat, then I’d expect they’d be raising middle and top pair on the flop so their range becomes a lot of bottom pair, ace high, and gut-shot straights that missed so a river call is likely correct.
Turn Continuation Bet %
I find this stat very valuable when defending from the blinds. Generally I like to put in most of action with my better hands on the flop when I’m out of position. In other words, I don’t typically wait for the turn with better hands. And generally this is correct but if you run into opponent with a high turn continuation bet%, then it’s right, at least some of the time, to wait until the turn to check-raise. I’ve found anything above 80% to be a high #. I think a typical TCB% is probably in the neighborhood of 70. It doesn’t take more than a check-raise or two to slow an opponent down. A big benefit of slowing your opponent down is that it allows you to float more flops with weak hands. For example a flop where you have an overcard with 2 backdoor draws, or 2 overcards with a backdoor draw. Those flop calls become more profitable, the more your opponent checks back the turn giving you a free card. So if you’re up against an opponent with a TCB% of 50% or lower, you can be liberal in calling flops. And if you find a player with a very low WTSD (went to showdown)% along with a low TCB%, you can float a lot of flops with the intention of betting the river when the turn is checked through.