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I've Created an Actual Practical Live Casino Poker HUD for Smartphones
submitted by ComfortZones to poker [link] [comments]
First and foremost, here is a landscape screenshot
of the HUD I programmed via mobile Excel and have been using for the past year and a half in L.A. casinos with great success. It has earned me roughly $48/hr playing the $3/5 NL holdem games in L.A. over about a 1,000 hour sample. I'd estimate my expected EV is running right about average, and this winrate will look the same (give or take $5/hr over 10,000 or 100,000 hours). I take some credit for being an on-and-off player, but consistent winner since I learned the game at 18 (I'm 31 now). But this HUD has a lot to do with my winrate being where it is, and frankly keeping me from being bored to tears playing live poker for the past 18 months or so.
As are many of you, I'm a former U.S. online player who stepped away from poker after Black Friday turned my world upside down back in 2011 (Full Tilt, thanks for everything). I've had a few decent, middle of the road analyst-type jobs since and have recently left my last one to pursue my Master's degree. While doing so, I have been playing live poker seriously to cover living expenses and supplement my income. Early on around the spring of last year, I realized that the biggest obstacle I had in adjusting to live poker, especially after 4 years away from the game where I was used to 16-tabling at FTP, was managing the slow crawl of being dealt 18-25 hands per hour of NL holdem. This was a far cry from the 700-900 hands per hour I was used to from my online days. However, to compensate for the slow drip of cards to work with in live games, I noticed that the players I faced when actually receiving playable hands, were absolutely horrendous on average. The slow crawl poker that I thought was a joke during my online days was actually a huge benefit in a sense, as I noticed that patiently waiting for premium or semi-premium hands in loose L.A. casinos almost guaranteed significant winnings in the long run assuming the hands weren't butchered by me post-flop. Everyone else gets 18-25 hands per hour to work with as well, and most of them get impatient at some point or another and KJ suited starts looking like aces to many.
However, even as a patient player, I was still extremely bored folding 84 offsuit all day and actually seeing a flop with a playable hand 3-5 times per hour. I could manage my time browsing the front page of Reddit or watch a mindless YouTube video about how to make a great pizza and still make an ok profit on most days, but I wasn't learning much about my opponents while in between hands. If I managed to stay attentive after repeatedly folding my hands and watching the action, I was picking up on play styles of my opponents, but not to the extent my HUD allowed me to passively do when I played online and everyone's stats just popped up next to them as I played... it was mostly to the extent where I'd noticed seat 3 at my table played a lot of hands and bluffed lots of flush draws, or seat 8 was nitty and seemed to be sacrificing all his blinds. Getting this vague, but incomplete understanding of my table, while knowing how vital it was to pick up on every piece of information I could to ideally play my 3-6 flops per hour as perfectly as possible with these 8 other guys around me... That's when I had the idea to create this live HUD. As much as players say you can get plenty of info just by watching people play their hands (which is true), I wanted to take it a step further. And despite the common consensus that live HUD's are too small of a sample size or too much of a pain in the ass to ever be worth using, I'm glad I went through with this idea.
My biggest worry in making the program was that it would be far too time consuming to be on my phone entering tedious numbers while a live poker game was going on and people were all around me asking me "what game am I playing... that looks weird." Well, I can honestly say that around half the players at my local casinos are browsing on their phones and tuning out while waiting for their next hand. In general, people don't give a shit at all what you're doing on your phone, and even if the floor came over and were genuinely interested in what my program is (which they never have and will never care), I could tell them the truth and they would most likely just find it "cool." I do occasionally have an old timer in the seat next to me take a peek at my phone, but they have no idea what they're looking at. If I don't really care for them and they ask, I'll tell them it's a spreadsheet for work. If I'm cool with them, I'll tell them exactly what it is and joke with them that they should start playing more than their 17% of hands they're playing, or everyone will think they're a nit. They'll usually just laugh when I tell them, and compliment me or ask how "the stats say they're playing". I'll lie and tell them something like "the stats say you're gonna donate all your money to seat 2 in the next 10 hands"... because I'm a poker player.
My next biggest worry in making the live HUD was that half the players in L.A. casinos play for around 1-2 hours at most before going bust or leaving with what they made, which means I'm only getting about a 40-50 hand sample size. I figured this wouldn't do me much good until I realized that the differences in play style statistics in casino players become apparent much, MUCH more quickly than online. I'll explain...
In full ring online games, extremely tight players' VP (voluntarily put in pot) percentages were between 10-13%. Loose players' VP's probably were around 20% and above. In 40-50 hands online, tight players could easily play 20-25% of their hands just by being dealt a good run of hands, making that sample size pointless.
In LIVE games, on the other hand, I quickly noticed that players' VP's (in my casinos) ranged anywhere from 10% to 90%. Yes, 90%. Casual players who come over from blackjack and don't really know much holdem strategy will sit down and literally want to play every hand unless the action has a $500 all-in preceding them, and the player looks down at 62 offsuit and has to begrudgingly fold. In fact, after about 5 sessions of tracking stats, I deducted that the average VP in my casinos is around 28-30% (note that this screenshot is from my most recent Thursday afternoon session, and my table was tighter than typical for this location). And this was among plenty of casino regulars. This average VP in my live games would be considered a MANIAC VP on a Full Tilt ring game back in 2008, when online players were frankly loose and terrible. Yes, tight players in live games will still get a hot run of cards over 40 hands and have a deceivingly high VP%, while loose players can be card dead and be deceivingly low. However, they will usually balance out to within 5-10% of what they are after just 50 hands if you played with them for another 200. You will not see a player play at 20% VP through 50 hands, and be at 45% after 100 hands. It just doesn't happen, unless there's some uber-tilt going on, which is easily picked up on without any need for a HUD.
The point I'm making is that I was noticing that just after a 15-20 hand sample size at any table, I was seeing some players playing 15% of their hands vs. others playing 60%, 70%, or 80% of hands. And this was plenty sufficient to at least give me a ballpark estimate of a player's style without having to mentally remember whether I keep seeing common players playing lots of hands, as most live players do to label players as tight or loose in their minds. The longer these players stayed while I tracked their preflop stats, the more detailed of an analysis my HUD gave on their ranges and play styles. 50 hands of data on a player in a live game is equivalent to about 200 hands of data on an online player, simply due to the DRASTIC percentage differences in VP, PFR, 3B, and even Fold to C-Bet stats among live players.
Finally, probably the most glaring concern, and the one I have spent by far the most time addressing, is the amount of time one would have to spend entering data into the spreadsheet after every hand. Keeping track of what every single player is doing after every single hand is a giant pain in the ass. However, only having to keep track of non-folding players makes things significantly easier. Especially when just tracking preflop stats (the most important stats), which is essentially what my HUD does. By making folds as blank cells by default, and only counting hands where at least one number has already been entered in its respective column, I was able to create a spreadsheet where the program counts everyone's action as a fold by default until a 0, 1, 2, or 3 is put in its place. This cuts down the time it takes to enter stats for each hand by about 80%. If seat 1 raises preflop and everyone folds, I am putting a "2" in row 1 to signify they raised, and leaving every other row blank. That's it. The program automatically calculates row 1's raise into their VP, PFR, 3B, and all their other stats, as well as the overall table stats, while automatically tallying up a fold for seats 2 through 9 in all of their respective stats. If seat 3 raises preflop, seat 5 reraises, and seat 3 folds (along with everyone else), I'm entering a "2f3" (to resemble a raise and fold to 3bet) in row 3 and a "3" in row 5 (to resemble a 3bet). Done. If a new player comes into the game, I'll enter what hand number they started on, and all hands before it are automatically entered as "0"s for that player, which tells my data to ignore those "0" hands for that player.
To debunk a few other commonly brought up myths as to why keeping stats during live games is supposedly pointless:
1) Casinos, at least in California and most in Vegas outside of crazy high stakes games, couldn't care less as to what you're doing on your phone. Apart from being on your phone with a buddy in the middle of a big hand and asking them what you should do, casinos do not want to make it their business as to what you're doing on your phone while you're out of a hand (or even in a hand, as long as you're not slowing the game down). Entering in a couple 1's and 2's into a spreadsheet to gain an analytical edge that they can't comprehend is far from a casino's concern. Even if they wanted to know what you were doing, nothing in any casino rules even hint at this being frowned upon.
2) It is NOT difficult to follow the action preflop, enter in a couple one-digit numbers into a spreadsheet, and then go back to whatever it is you're doing at the poker table. If you already folded your hand, you can enter in whatever seats actually had an action immediately. If you're actually involved in a hand (eg. you raised from seat 1 and had seats 5 and 9 call you), just play your hand as normal and enter the appropriate three numbers when your hand completes. If you miss a hand or happened to have tuned out while watching a cute dog do a somersault on aww, it's not a big deal. The spreadsheet doesn't care. It's at your disposal to give you as much information as you want to take from it.
3) People do NOT treat you as a nit and give you no action just because you keep glancing at or using your phone. It's 2016, and people all around us are on their phones and tablets doing god knows what. In fact, what I've found about live players, is that they're impatient, and even if they KNOW you're studying them or playing nitty (which I do on occasion, but not always), live players are bad and they really can't help themselves. If they have K9 offsuit and see you 3bet them. They aren't focusing on the kid who keeps playing on his phone... they're focusing on the fact that they have K9 offsuit, and maybe this is the time they'll finally peel off a flop and see three 9's hit... because they're totes due!
I can address several other things about my HUD, such as the "action graph" at the bottom of the screen that fills as you play or the shading of each player's cell in column A, which is lightest for the most profitable seat at the table based on the loose/tight players on your left or right and darkest for least profitable seat... But this has turned into a pretty long explanation already. If you have questions, I'll try and address them in the comments. No, this is not currently available for public use yet. But I'm not opposed to releasing it to the masses at some point should it gauge enough interest. I'd ideally like to find some other individuals who are actually enthusiastic about my project and perhaps even find a few app developers with a poker background and turn what is essentially a full-fledged backend spreadsheet into a frontend app with an actual table interface with 9 seats where each seat could simply be tapped, double tapped, etc. to signify limps, raises, etc. for each hand. That is the dream at least... I have no idea at the moment whether it could plausibly ever be a reality. But I can assure all that having this program at my disposal while I've played has been +EV for me, helped me in a couple very key spots where I would have never known to fold my two pair or steal blinds with my junk, or 3bet light, and it's given me some advantages that most would consider unheard of in live poker.
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