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5 Quick Ways to Improve your Poker HUD

I designed financial tools for traders for over a decade in my previous career. Doing this well requires a solid grasp of data visualization principles put forth by experts such as Edward Tufte. This statement of his perfectly sums up our goal with the Poker HUD:

“Visualization excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.”

Of course we use pixels instead of ink, but the idea is the same. Working with limited screen space, we hope to display as much information as possible, while still facilitating quick decisions.

I have a list of quick tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your Poker HUD.

But first a couple disclaimers.

  • These tips apply to Holdem Manager.

    I do not use Poker Tracker, so I don’t know if these are also possible with that tool. Perhaps others can speak to that tool in the comments below.

  • This is not a lesson on HUD stats.

    This post is not about explaining what the statistics mean. For more info on the stats themeselves, you can read my posts: How to Setup your HUD and The 3 best Strategies to Improve your Red line.

Increase the Font Size of VPIP

One of the simplest yet most effective improvements you can make is to increase the size of the VPIP (the percentage of hands played) statistic.

Our HUD should help us profile our opponents as quickly as possible. The single statistic that tells us the most about a player is VPIP. No other statistic tells us so much.

If his VPIP is 10%, he is a rock.
If it’s 50%, he’s a whale.

Other than the number of hands (for sample size), we don’t need anything else for this read.

Thus you want to make this statistic more prominent than all the rest. Some of your decisions can be made with this information alone. And also this statistic will converge (become reliable) the fastest.

PFR is usually coupled with VPIP, but I personally choose to make PFR smaller. If they are the same size, they visually compete with each other, rendering them both less effective.

You can also vary the font size of your other stats to emphasize or de-emphasize them according to their significance. But don’t go overboard.

Install a HUD-friendly Table Mod

Often overlooked, installing a better table mod (or “skin”) for your poker site can greatly improve the readability and usefulness of your Poker HUD.

What you’re looking for is a clean, dark background. I prefer both the area around the table as well as the table itself to be black if possible or at least a dark gray. When you look at the table, the things that jump out at you should be the information on the players (stats), the cards, the chips (both in play and in the stacks), the dealer button, and the action buttons.

Mighty Mouse Table ModYou also should look for mods that shrink the size of the table, so they create more space around the outside for statistics.

I still think the best mod of all time to accomplish this is the Mighty Mouse mod for PokerStars. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. Both the site and developer have vanished.

If you’re looking for one, try www.pokerlayout.eu. They have some tight layouts with dark backgrounds and plenty of room for stats.

Also, as in the image above, I suggest you use a layout that removes the chatbox and player avatars (if possible) as this creates a TON more space for poker stats.

Use Colors Intelligently

What you don’t want is a Poker HUD that looks like an ugly Christmas tree.

Use colors with care and intention. There are two approaches I’ve seen work when done correctly:

  1. Colors change based on value. (e.g. red for high numbers, green for low)
  2. Colors differentiate the stat from other statistics.

I actually use a combination of both. Here’s how.

For my pre-flop stats, I have each row set as a different color. This makes it easy for my eyes to jump to the correct row. The columns represent positions.

Some people will use a different color for EVERY statistic. I find this to be an assault on the senses and far less effective, but perhaps this might work for you.

Does your Poker HUD look like an ugly Christmas tree? Click To Tweet

For my post-flop statistics, I set everything in “normal” ranges as gray. Then I only have statistics change to red or green when they fall outside my chosen thresholds. This makes it very fast to spot leaks in my opponents, since only the important data stands out.

Use Panels to Group your Data

The most common technique is to place all of your numbers in one big box. This is far less effective.

With one big grid of numbers, it takes far longer to find the stat you want.

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Instead you use the panel functionality in Holdem Manager to group similar stats together. Then place these panels in meaningful positions around the player box.

Very quickly your mind will internalize the positional layout, and your eyes will automatically jump to those locations when seeking specific information.

Pimp your Poker HUD with these HM2 Tricks

To get the numbers in your panels to line up properly like above, there are a few HM2 tricks that can help.

  1. Use a fixed width font like Lucida Console. This keeps columns in line.
  2. Turn on abbreviations, but remove the default label. Then…
  3. Use spaces, dashes, slashes and other symbols to align, space, and distinguish your data.
  4. Set the HUD background to black then set the font to black for symbol spacing.
  5. Need more space? Increase the overhang setting and use area outside the table window.
2 Comments
  • William M.
    April 29, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Hey Mike, I’ve tried adding a custom skin to my partypoker client, but it doesn’t show up in the customization options. Any advice on fixing this?

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