In pre-flop play you want to focus on profiling players. When an opponent enters a pot, you want to know if he represents a good hand or not. Once you have mastered this, you can focus on exploiting the opponent’s playing style.
There are a few statistics that can help you to identify an opponent’s style. The most important are VPiP and PFR.
VPiP and PFR
The VPiP stat shows how often a player adds money to the pot pre-flop and determines if a player is loose or tight. A value of 100 would mean that a player plays every hand and a value of 0 means that a player doesn’t play any hands.
The PFR stat shows how often a player raises before the flop and determines whether a player is passive or aggressive. A value of 0 means that a player never raises pre-flop and a value of 100 means that a player raises every hand pre-flop.
Against a tight player
The VPiP and PFR values give a rough estimate to the hole cards of a player. For example, take a player who has a VPiP of 10 and a PFR of 10. This player only plays 10 percent of his hands. Also, when he plays, he will raise before the flop. This player has a tight-aggressive game.
This information helps you increase your edge in two ways. First, since this player only plays 10 percent of the time (or 1 in 10 hands), we can assume that when he plays, he will have a decent hand. You might want to avoid playing against this opponent or proceed with caution. Second, since this player only plays 1 in 10 hands, he won’t be playing the other 9, so when he is in the big blind position you might want to try and steal the pot, because he will fold about 90% of the time!
Against a loose player
A loose player will show a higher value for VPiP. If the player has a low value for PFR it means that he will limp in with a lot of hands. If the player also has a high value for PFR he will raise a lot of hands as well.
Imagine a player who has a VPiP of 50 and a PFR of 25. This player will play 1 in 2 hands and even raise 1 in 4. Therefore, when this player raises he won’t have a premium hand all the time.
Also, when this player limps in with a hand, you might want to consider raising more often. Since this player will raise with a lot of hands (PFR is 25), when he limps he probably holds a hand that isn’t worth raising – even to his standard.
Using advanced statistics pre-flop
More advanced statistics are BSA, FBB, CPFR, and F3B.
The BSA (blind-steal attempts) stat show how often a player raises from the button in a pot where everybody else has folded. If a player has a very high BSA value and you are one of the blinds when he is the button, you might want to consider re-stealing more often, thus re-raising pre-flop.
The opposite of BSA is FBB, or fold to big blind steal attempts. This shows how often a player folds his big blind to a raise from the button. When a player has a high value for FBB you might want to consider raising into his blinds from a late position more often.
The CPFR and F3B stats can be used to improve your exploitive play even more. CPFR shows how often a player calls a pre-flop raise, taking the hand to the flop. If a player has a high value for CPFR the hand will most likely go to the flop so you should consider if you want to play a flop with your hole cards.
The F3B stats shows how often a player folds to a re-raise pre-flop. Think of the loose player described earlier. If this player has a high F3B value, you might want to consider re-raising more often. If the player has a very low F3B value you might not want to risk any more money and simply call because you probably won’t get him to fold pre-flop.