Which stats are important in a poker debrief?

Pixelated data analysis concept

After reading Carl’s post about the importance of a poker debrief, it reminded me of one of the most common problems new poker players deal with; confusion! Yes, debriefing is paramount if you want to succeed in online poker, as long as you know what you should be looking for!

For newcomers in the online poker world, it’s easy to be confused by the vast amount of informative posts and even more confused by the stats those poker experts are talking about. It must sound like there are hundreds of stats available to improve on. So, sure, you really like the idea of briefing and debriefing as Carl recommends, but where do you start from?

During the first debriefs, I would focus on 3 points:

  1. How active have I been during the session? Have I played a lot of hands? What does my VPIP show?
  2. How aggressive have I been? Have I attacked a lot of pots? This would be the time to take a look at the PFR stat.
  3. Specific hands that cost me the most during the session. Could I have played them any differently? Equally important are the hands where I won the most. Did I really play that well, or is it lady luck that pushed the chips towards me?

VPIP and PFR stats will define you as a poker player. These two stats will make you either a Tight Aggressive (TAG), a Loose Aggressive (LAG), a Tight Passive or a Loose Passive player. In short, if you are playing a lot of hands, you are playing loosely, try to tighten up your range and widen it only when you are more experienced. If you are folding and calling more often instead of betting and raising, try to fix that leak. Although there will be times when you need to stay passive and let super aggressive players bet into your monster hand, more often than not you should be looking to take the initiative.

Of course, you could do worse than that! During your debrief you might discover that you played more than half of your hands, or could not give up your hand, although you knew you were beat. That makes you a fish. Don’t be a fish, because sharks (TAGs and LAGs) will win all your money.

The third point is just as important. Scanning your hands and paying attention at big wins and losses will force you to think of a better strategy next time you are into the same situation. It’s necessary to spend time on those hands, because they are responsible for most of your bankroll’s variance.

If every time your opponents exploit a specific leak of yours where you lose a whole buy-in, it’s time to fix that as soon as possible! That’s costing you dearly! Begin improving your poker skills, by stop making the most costly mistakes over and over again.

As you gain experience in debriefing your poker sessions and you plug your poker leaks, you’ll gradually start investigating other stats. But before you examine more detailed stats, such as your turn aggression, you tendency to 5bet and overplaying suited connectors post flop, you should start slow and excel in the stats of most importance. What’s the meaning of overdoing it with a bunch of stats that overwhelm you, if you don’t really understand how to interpret the stats!

And if you can’t find time for a debriefing, that is just a poor excuse for not wanting to improve. How about playing an hour less each time you play? Or spending one day of the week on debriefing instead of actual play? You see, there is plenty of time for a debriefing and analyzing your poker game and stats.