Poker Software and Using the PFR% Indicator

When you first start using poker software you may find like many others have, that all of the information being presented for you can be a little overwhelming and entirely confusing. So it’s best to approach it one indicator at a time. PFR, or preflop raising percentage is one of those indicators that is very significant because it can instantly show you how aggressive your online poker opponents are.

So pre flop raise is rather much straightforward, at least on the surface. This statistic is very representative of a player’s overall aggressiveness, but it is not the complete story, so lets have a closer look. PFR percentage is how many times a player raises before the flop, divided by how many hands dealt to that player. The higher this number is the more unpredictable your opponent will be.

Now if we go back to the Schoonmaker profile grid the VP$IP is represented on the tight and loose scale because it’s easy to measure this statistic of how many hands a player plays. But when you’re talking about raising – and in this case preflop raising, it effects the passive aggressive scale because this explains how the player entered the pot. For instance, if he doesn’t preflop raise a lot, he would be more on the passive side. If he preflop raises more than he would be tending toward the aggressive side. Now if you combine these two scales, that will start to build an approximate profile gauge of your opponent.

Now this is not the entire story of how aggressive a player can be because preflop raising is just that – it’s only action BEFORE the flop we are discussing here. How he gets into a hand, whether raising or calling goes directly to this poker software indicator.

So what does the stat represent anyway? Well a player with a PFR% of around 9% or 10% is probably rather tight-aggressive, even typical player. If you see an opponent with something like 16% or higher then that would be quite an aggressive character. Think about the hands you get dealt when looking at this number. Do you get good enough cards to raise with 1 of 5 hands? Keep in mind that everything depends on the situation, so the more stats you have collected, the more representative the PFR will be, just like any other stats.

We now know two of the factors that regular cash game players will look at immediately when deciding to play a hand or make a play against an opponent. In fact, you may often read in blog posts or in poker training videos that an opponent is for example 32 -19… At 32 -19 a player would be VPIPing 32 percent and pre-flop raising 19 percent of his hands. You could expect a wide range of hands from this player, many of them being moderate, even weak hole cards played aggressively. Conversely, a 12/6 player who only comes into the pot 12 percent of the time, and only raises 6 percent would be very selective in their hands, and then likely ahead of most of your hole cards.

Imagine just for a moment, playing without this information. No history, no profile, no picture clues. Well how do you play your AJ against either one of them now? Not so clear as to how to what strategy to use now is it? That’s why good players use poker software. A lot of skilled players will only look at those two factors in a preliminary sense, and then when the hand gets more involved will use their poker software to look deeper into that player’s entire profile.

If you just start with these two indicators, VP$IP and PFR% then you can add more as you go along. In fact these two are really all you need at the table, and when you get involved in a hand you can open up more stats in your poker software to look a little deeper into the complete profile of the opponent.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker – Can You Beat a Bot?

When I first started to learn the game of chess, I bought a cheap chess playing computer from Radio Shack. I was pretty good at the novice level, but when I moved the setting up a notch or two, I soon realized just how poorly I really played. I never won a game. That was 30 years ago. Computers have come a long way since then.

I mention this because it ties in with an article I recently read about a poker playing Bot. (A poker bot is computer program written to play online poker.) Before I get into that, let me tell you about an experience I had several years ago. A gentleman stopped by my computer store one morning and asked me if I could get him the fastest computer on the market. Then he told me that when an even faster one comes along, he’d buy that one too.

I asked him what he was going to use it for (So I’d know how to set it up.) and he was very hesitant in answering me. Finally, he invited me to his house, saying it would be easier for him to show me than to explain what he was doing.

When I got there, I found two computers setting side by side. One was state-of-the-art, the other was just an average system. After much him-hawing, he finally told me that he was making a ton of money playing Backgammon on the Internet. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t.

Here’s what he was doing. He was entering high-stakes online Backgammon tournaments that paid big bucks to the winner. He had an edge. He had purchased a world class Backgammon program and was running it on the “fast” computer while he played the tournament on the slower computer. He would duplicate the ‘live’ game, move by move on the “fast” system, and it would analyze the board positions and tell him what move to make next. Because time was at a premium, he needed the fastest computer he could get to do the analysis. I was amazed.

In the last few years, Texas Hold’em, not Backgammon has become the game of choice. It’s estimated that as many as 2 million Texas Hold’em players ante up online each month. The PPA (Poker Players Alliance) has over 1,000,000 registered members in the United States. I’d guess that most of these players figure their odds of winning online are about the same as they would be if they were playing in a physical casino. That may not be the case.

One problem when doing anything on the Internet is that you can never be sure of who or “what” you might be doing it with. That’s true with chat lines, messaging services, and now, even fellow poker players. There are poker bots you can purchase on-line that are specifically programed to play ‘limit’ Texas Hold’em. They analyze the game in real time. They know the ‘percentage of winning’ as the hand unfolds. They don’t get tired and make mistakes, they play using the most powerful poker strategies available including pot-odds, and they need ‘no’ human intervention at all. Some of them can even play up to eight tables at the same time.

Bots are outlawed in almost every online casino. But because they are so hard to detect, my guess is…many of them are playing right now and the other players at the table have no clue as to what they’re up against! Remembering my experience with the chess computer…I doubt I’d stand a chance against a poker bot. Not in the long run. Of course, they don’t win all the time. There’s still a lot of luck involved in any card game. But if I were a betting man, I’m afraid I’d have to bet on the bot.