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What is PFR & How to Use PFR at the Poker Table

In the last post, we talked about VPIP and how to use it. Today we will discuss Pre-Flop Raise (PFR) and how to use it. Think of Pre-Flop Raise as pre-flop aggression. The more someone is raising pre-flop, the more aggressive they are, and just like with VPIP, it helps us form a better understanding of their pre-flop range construction. We can also put PRF and VPIP together to create their PFR/VPIP gap (the difference between PFR and VPIP).

Understanding PFR

If we look at win-rate by PFR, we will see some correlation where most winning players are raising 15-25% of their hands. Alone this wouldn’t tell us much since most players will generally be in that range. But when we combine it with VPIP, the story is much more precise, and you can start forming a “player type.” If the gap between VPIP and PFR is low, you gave a more aggressive player pre-flop (notice I say pre-flop because that is the only street these stats apply to). If the gap is wide, we can say the player is more passive pre-flop. Because No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-limit Omaha are games with blinds, more aggressive play is preferred to give yourself a chance to win the blinds when you are putting in money.

Using PFR at the Poker Table

Let’s consider how we might play differently against two players based only on their PFR statistics. Player A has a PFR of 10% and opens to 3 times the big blind from the middle position. What do you think his range looks like here? Well, since 10% is less than half of my average PFR number, I would have to estimate this player is playing half of the hands I am in a given position. I think their MP PFR range might look like this:

 

8.9% of all hands

So now, let’s look at a more aggressive player’s range, say someone with a 21% PFR.

17.95% of all hands

Now imagine you are in the big blind and have called a pre-flop raise. How would you adjust your play based on the flop?  How about on a flop of 9♦️9♥️5♣️?

Right away, I know I can probably scare off a tight player with a check-raise when he is holding most of his unpaired hands here. And 56.6% of the time, our opponent will have two overcards. Only 27.43% of the time will our opponent hold an over-pair or better. So we are going to make a lot of money vs. the tight range on this board playing aggressive.

How about that same board vs. our more aggressive pre-flop opponent? Well, to start, that opponent does have more hands in their range so that they will have a lower frequency of overpairs or better (21.6%). They will also have no made hand around 60% of the time. Therefore, in this case, despite having more board coverage, we can aggressively raise both of these opponents from the big blind!

Further Study – Test your Knowledge

See if you can test your assumptions in the comments! What is a flop where we would have to alter our play significantly based on the PFR of the player in Middle Position? I will update this post with the one I find most convincing!
 
For bonus points, what does the above flop tell you about board texture and check raise frequency?

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