Whenever you play Match Poker Online™, the app will track two important aspects of your play style: your VEP and your PFR.
VEP – Voluntarily Entered the Pot – is the percentage of hands you choose to play without being forced to (i.e., by being in the blinds). Every hand in which you voluntarily put money into the pot (whether raising, calling a raise or just limping in) your VEP goes up by one. So, if you play 100 hands and voluntarily get involved in 40 of them, your VEP would be 40 (meaning 40%).
PFR – PreFlop Raise – shows how often you come into the pot, pre-flop, with a raise. If you came in with a raise in 18% of the hands you entered, your PFR would be 18.
WHAT YOUR VEP AND PFR NUMBERS SAY
A VEP of 21 or less tells us that you are pretty tight; 28 or more and you are loose.
Your PFR tells us whether you are passive or aggressive. If you enter pots with a raise less than 66% of the time, you are “passive’. If you enter pots with a raise more than 80% of the time, you are aggressive. (In theory, a PFR of 100 means that every time you enter a pot, you do so by raising. Your PFR is unlikely to ever be close to 100%, though, because sometimes you will wish to enter pots by calling, rather than raising, e.g., with low pocket pairs, suited connectors, high suited cards or when out-of-position.)
You should not look at both of these numbers in isolation, but in conjunction. This allows you to accurately analyse your play, and say: “Of all the hands I chose to play, how many of those did I enter with a raise?” This is a pretty good indicator of your level of skill. Playing too many hands (i.e., a high VEP) and playing them passively (i.e., low PFR) are the signs of a “fish”.
WHAT’S A GOOD VEP/PFR?
It’s widely felt that a good VEP is 21 – any higher and you are getting too loose; much lower and you may be getting too tight.
Additionally, you should be raising at least 70% of the time you enter a pot. So, if your VEP is 24, your PFR should not be less than 17 (i.e., 70% of 24). (If it is less than 17, then you’re calling in spots where you should be raising.)
A pretty good range for 8-max poker would be between 15/12 and 27/23. For 6-max poker this range would be a little lower, 13/10 to 24/20.
High VEP (28 or more) shows:
You play too many hands. The higher your VEP, the “looser” you are. A VEP of 45 or more suggests you are very loose.
[Our 8-max opening hand chart suggests that you should be opening less than 25% of hands (taking into account both early position and late position).
Alternatively, click here for our 6-max chart.]
Low VEP (19 or less) shows:
You are a tight player – not entering many pots. The lower this number, the “tighter” you are.
High PFR (70% of your VEP* or more):
The higher this number as a percentage of your VEP, the greater is the percentage of pots that you enter with a raise – so 24/21 is 87.5%; i.e. of the pots you enter, you enter 87% with a raise. This is very aggressive. It’s widely felt that more aggressive play gives you more opportunities to win on later streets.
Low PFR (less than 70% of your VEP*) shows:
You call too often. Limping pre-flop is one of the strongest signs of a “fish”. Where your PFR is 50% of your VEP or smaller (e.g., 30/14, 40/20, 75/10/, 65/15), this suggests that not only do you play too many hands, but also that you play them too passively. A “whale” (55/5) and a loose-passive (30/5) are both “fish” – and very weak players.
*To work out what your PFR is as a percentage of your VEP, do this calculation: PFR ÷ VEP x 100
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO IMPROVE YOUR GAME AND YOUR GLOBAL RANKING (GRP)
Firstly, learn the opening hand charts (see here for 8-max play and here for 6-max play) and enter the pot only with the hands suggested in these charts.
It’s generally thought that more than 70% of the time that you enter the pot, you should enter with a raise or re-raise (VEP/PFR of 25/20, 20/15 or so). This is because one of the keys to winning, particularly in low or mid-level games, is aggression. By entering the pot with the betting lead most of the time, you are giving yourself more ways to win after the flop – and you are also representing strength to your opponent, which may discourage them from engaging with you. (Some 1/3rd of all pots are won by players that were actually behind!).
INTERPRETING VEP AND PFR NUMBERS
Poker uses VEP and PFR to put players into the four main poker player types according to the following:
A tight player plays fewer hands – typically reflecting a VEP of 20 or less (with ultra-tight at around 5), while a loose player plays a lot of hands, typically reflecting a VEP of more than 27 (with very loose at 45 or more).
A passive player doesn’t often raise pre-flop (their PFR is a lot lower than their VEP), while an aggressive player typically shows a PFR much closer to their VEP.
The higher your VEP, the looser (wider) is the range of hands you play.
The lower your PFR, the more passively you play your hand, i.e., the less times you open with a raise.
COMMON POKER-PLAYER TYPES AND HOW TO BEAT THEM:
Players’ VEP/PFR can tell you a lot about them, their play-style, and how to exploit them.
High VEP and high PFR – [Loose-Aggressive]
e.g., 45/35, 36/24, 50/40 – a maniac, LAG or “donk” – VEP typically above 33, PFR more than 80% of that. Gets involved with close to half of the hands they’re dealt (e.g., 45/35 so 45 out of 100) and raises most of them (35 out of 45). They’re a real wild card – and a high variance player.
Playing against them can be very profitable – they do a lot of betting and raising and so often over-play their hands – so use their aggression and let them build big pots for you, but the ride will be wild. You’ll be engaged in big pots and their range can be very wide – hence profitable, but dangerous.
They tend to bluff a lot – because often their hand is not great. Let them dictate the action and watch them hang themselves. Tend not to bluff them – they are more likely to call.
High VEP and low PFR – [Loose-Passive]
e.g., 40/10, 32/6 – a “calling station” or a “whale” or “fish” – VEP typically above 33, PFR very low. Calls too frequently (likes to see flops with a wide variety of hands), but usually lets others drive the action. They’re conservative when it comes to raising and only do it with really good hands.
This is the sort of player you want at your table. They’re generally losing players, who call too frequently and raise too infrequently. They are too loose and too passive, so they rarely cause you trouble. Someone with this VEP/PFR ratio is usually a good target to isolate because they’ll often play a “fit or fold” style, i.e., they’ll fold the hand if they do not hit on the flop. Tend not to bluff them – they are more likely to call.
Low VEP and high PFR – [Tight-Aggressive]
e.g. 14/11, 11/8, 7/5 – a “rock”– a very tight and aggressive player. They are often winning players. They don’t get involved often. When they do, they do it with very strong hands and usually come in with a raise (because they know they have a range advantage).
Don’t give them too much action pre-flop but see flops against them with hands that have good potential to hit big. And don’t shy away from running a post-flop bluff against these players, because they often fold when they miss.
Low VEP and low PFR – [Tight-Passive]
e.g. 18/1 or 14/3 – very tight and very passive. Waits patiently for AA, KK – only raises with the very best hands.
Medium VEP (in the range of 16-22) and high PFR
e.g. 19/17, 22/18 – a reg or a professional – a solid winning player – with a small gap between VEP and PFR. Regs can range from very tight (15/14) to pretty loose (27/22).
The following depicts our recommended ‘Goldilocks’ zone (in green) for VEP and PFR: