Understanding VPIP in Poker

Poker.Org Staff
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Published: March 30, 2022 9:54 AM EDT

VPIP is a very common statistic used in poker. Players who study the game — their own play and their opponents’ — use VPIP. Online poker players, predominantly in hold’em, use the statistic while they look at hand histories to document and track performance.

VPIP has been called the most important stat in online poker. It signals how often a poker player adds money to the pot. Knowing someone’s VPIP tells you how tight they are — or how loose.

Why VPIP is important in poker

Knowing an opponent’s VPIP makes it easier to develop strategies, identify player types, make smart decisions at the tables, and potentially win more money. It also helps you evaluate your own game. Tracking your VPIP lets you improve your playing style and control how others perceive you.

The stat is especially important in online poker where you often face large numbers of players who come and go.

What is VPIP in poker?

VPIP stands for “voluntary put in pot.” The term represents money (via chips) voluntarily put into a pot in a poker game. It tells you a player’s betting percentage. To determine VPIP, take the hands where the player put money into the pot (via raise or call) divided by the number of hands where they could have done so.

The final number creates a percentage, which is the VPIP.

Calculating VPIP

The VPIP formula is simple. Take a sample size of 50 hands. Let’s say player A puts money in the pot for a raise or a call in 10 of those hands. Ten divided by 50 is 0.2, which is 20%. Player A’s VPIP is 20%. Generally, these calculations include only pre-flop action.

Some players calculate VPIP mentally in a live cash game or tournament. However, in online games, it’s difficult to track the many players, but the data is collectible. Poker tracking software is the easiest way to track a player’s VPIP.

What to leave out of VPIP

There are a few things that don’t contribute to VPIP. Blinds and antes are mandatory contributions to the pot made by every player during an orbit without discrimination. Therefore, small blinds, big blinds, and antes don’t count toward anything voluntarily put into the pot. 

In addition, walks don’t count. If every player folds around to the big blind, it means the person in the big blind gets a walk with no opportunity to bet. Those hands don’t count toward VPIP calculations, either.

What does a high VPIP mean?

The higher a VPIP, the looser the player. A high VPIP reveals that the player gets involved in a higher percentage of pots than the average player. An average VPIP tends to be approximately 15% to 20%.

Players with lower-than-average VPIPs tend to be tight (also called nits). The most obvious takeaway is that they play fewer hands, likely waiting for good hands. A skilled player is more likely to give a low-VPIP player more respect when they bet because of their infrequency in doing so.

A VPIP of 20% to 30% indicates a looser player who may be more knowledgeable about the game or more discerning in their betting. They may be more prone to play marginal hands, take more chances, and bluff.

Most players refer to 30% or higher as a high VPIP. This high VPIP score means the player is very loose. The higher the percentage, the higher the chance that the player is a recreational or new player. You may call that player a fish.

Using VPIP numbers to understand types of poker players

There are many ways to use VPIP stats to understand opponents at the poker table. The most basic way is with these general categories:

  • 0 to 10%: very tight player who focuses on premium hands
  • 10% to 20%: tight player with a little broader range who tends to play more strategically
  • 20% to 30%: loose player who takes a few more chances, wanting to see more flops
  • 30% to 40%: very loose player with a wide range, one likely to experience big swings
  • 40% or higher: overly loose player or maniac, probably recreational or new to the game

Those wanting more insight into their opponents can use a player’s VPIP percentages to determine hand ranges.

Initial VPIP analysis

For example, the 10% or less players are likely playing only aces and other high-pocket pairs, A-9 through A-K suited, and possibly painted suited connectors. Of course, position and stack sizes also matter in putting opponents on various hands, but VPIP sets a range for further analysis.

Deeper analysis with PFR

For a higher level of analysis, you can calculate PFR percentages in conjunction with VPIP. PFR stands for “pre-flop raise” and is solely based on the number of times a player raises. Instead of simply calling or even folding a hand to another person’s raise, a player voluntarily raises or reraises. 

The higher a PFR, the more aggressive the player. This means that the player is less likely to go along to see a flop. That person would rather test an opponent’s strength before the flop. Players with more skills are likely to have a PFR closer to their VPIP.

Adjusting your poker strategy with VPIP

The purpose of determining your own VPIP and those of your opponents is to use it to play more strategically.

For example, playing against a very loose player may require being more selective with big hands to play against that person. When facing a raise from a very tight player, a fold may be in order, especially if you’re out of position with a weak hand. Conversely, it could be much easier to steal that player’s blinds and antes pre-flop. 

When a player is up against an opponent with a high VPIP, it’s best to play high-value hands aggressively. High-VPIP players might call or make initial raises with a very wide range of hands, but they’re less likely to go along with a sizable reraise. An aggressive stance may cause a high-VPIP player to stand down.

As for your own VPIP, if you find that your VPIP is above average but your win rate is down, it’s easy to figure out that you need to slow down and be more selective about pre-flop hand raises. If your own VPIP is low, you can look for spots to take more chances and be more aggressive.

1. Pre-flop

Using VPIP ranges — especially combined with PFR numbers — provides a basis for putting opponents on styles and ranges. When you see a tendency for a player to be loose or tight, you can make smart decisions on how to exploit those qualities. 

The simplest strategies for using pre-flop VPIP numbers is to raise and reraise loose players, especially with strong hands when in position. Take advantage of tight players with very strong hands in position. 

Those playing too tight pre-flop often play scared. And opponents with very high VPIPs are likely to try to gamble with anything. But you can often chase them out of a pot pre-flop by playing back at them with strength. 

2. Post-flop

VPIP statistics measure players’ actions before the flop, but they help in making post-flop decisions as well. Post-flop, weaknesses become easier to exploit.

If you allow a loose player to see a flop, they may be easy to read afterward. For example, if a loose player hits something on the flop, they will keep playing or chasing draws. But if they miss the flop, you can most likely induce them to fold with a strong bet.

It’s important to understand that a tight or passive player will probably still play tight post-flop, and possibly even more so. However, you can raise a loose player out of pots when it becomes too expensive for them to see turns and rivers. 

Final thoughts on VPIP

The VPIP is a valuable tool for playing poker, and a great way to analyze opponents and yourself. The more you track a player’s VPIP numbers over time, the more accurate those numbers are.

It’s also important to delineate between full-ring and 6-max games and other poker formats.

Track other poker stats

Keep in mind that continual improvement requires tracking other stats, like PFR. Eventually, you can combine those numbers with AF (aggression frequency) and ATS (attempts to steal).

Further analysis can include 3-bet stats, CB (continuation bets), reactions to CB, such as FCB (fold to continuation bet), CCB (call), and RCB (raise). Finally, there are calculations for WT (went to showdown) and WSD (won money at showdown).

Use a poker HUD

When you’re ready to go deeper with poker stats, it is imperative to do it online and with a poker HUD (head-up display) program. Pokertracker 4 calculates these statistics and provides suggestions based on HUD stats. Poker forums also offer advice regarding poker statistical analysis.

Tracking stats is a key way to improve your skills and become a more advanced player.

Featured image source: Flickr by World Poker Tour used under CC license