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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: VPIP

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Sep 16, 2015

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When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, _Card Player_ brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: VPIP

What Is It?

VPIP is an acronym that stands for Voluntary Put Money In Pot. Commonly used in poker tracking software, it’s a statistic that is used to measure the rate that a player raises or calls preflop.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

In poker, nobody is required to put money or chips into the pot outside of the blind and antes. Loose players who enter more pots have a higher VPIP and those who have a tighter approach have a lower VPIP. By knowing a player’s VPIP, you can more accurately determine their range of hands depending on their actions.

Give Me An Example (Or Two)

You are playing in an online poker tournament and are on the money bubble with an average stack. Another medium stack raises in middle position and the action folds around to you in the small blind with A-J.

If your opponent has a low VPIP, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent or less, then you know they are extremely tight and can comfortably fold A-J knowing you are probably up against a big hand. However, if your opponent has a high VPIP of 40 percent or more, then you know they are very loose. At this point, you can choose to three-bet or even call and see a flop.

Generally speaking, a balanced player should have a VPIP in the neighborhood of 18 to 24 percent when playing full-ring games. Any lower, and it will be tough to get value from your strong hands. Any higher, and it will be very difficult to get any bluffs through. If playing six-handed or shorter, higher VPIPs became more necessary because hand values change.

It is important to note that position also plays a big role in how to read into a player’s VPIP. For instance, just because a player has a high VPIP overall doesn’t mean that he has a wide range when he raises from early position. Conversely, if a player has a low VPIP, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a monster hand if they raise from the button.

There are many heads up displays on the market for online poker players that automatically calculate an opponent’s VPIP based on the hands the program has seen during play, but you can also use VPIP in a live setting. By using a general estimation of your opponent’s hand-playing frequency, you can develop a counter strategy that will allow you to make profitable plays against them. ♠