Leak Finding Using Hold’em Manager

Hold’em Manager is a great program for keeping track of your wins and losses but it can do much, much more.

With just a little legwork you can analyze your entire game, looking for leaks that cost you money and hurt your winrate.

The filters in HEM are top notch, and you can use them to take a really close look at your game.

Now obviously you play holdem to make money and you do that by seeking out profitable situations. But what's profitable and what's not may not be immediately recognizable.

You may actually be getting into non profitable scenarios all the time and not realizing it. These non-profitable scenarios destroy your winrate. Luckily with HEM we can use filters to find these non-profitable spots and we can find out why they're non-profitable.

From there it's just plugging that leak and your winrate will see a boost in the long run.

How to Plug Your Poker Leaks

First things first, hit the filter button and filter to your main game. You don't want shot taking at higher limits throwing off the results. As always the bigger the sample size (300k hands plus) the more accurate your findings.

Another note is that this article is already going to be very long. We'll look a plugging specific leaks in future articles but in this article there's nowhere near enough room to go through them all

Ultimately it will be up to you to do some critical thinking on how to improve your game.

We're through the looking glass here people. 


Preflop mistakes are the smallest you can make. The betting is small and you're only risking a very small portion of your entire stack.

You can even make up for small preflop mistakes with good postflop play, but in the long run lots of small leaks can add up to big losses.

After all, it's your play before the flop that sets the foundation for the rest of the hand.

Using HEM's filters tab you can look at every single possible preflop action. Through these filters you'll be able to tell which situations are profitable and which are not.

First of all let's analyze your play from early position.

In the main filter tab click early position. This will filter to all hands played under the gun and under the gun +1. First and foremost look at your VPIP and PFR.  They should be almost half of your overall VPIP. You should be playing very tight from early position.

If your UTG VPIP and PFR are close to your regular VPIP you've already spotted a leak. Tighten up substantially from UTG.

Filter your UTG results further in the hole cards tab and see how you do with the bottom of your UTG range. Let's say the bottom of your UTG range is something like ATo , Axs, and T9s. Look at each one independently and see if you're turning a profit. You may surprised to learn the results.

You can do the same for all positions by changing your first filter to middle position, cut-off, button and using the hole card filter to get a good idea of which hands you're playing profitably from which position.

Using the preflop action facing player box you can also look at scenarios where you isolate a preflop limper etc. The possibilities are endless so play around with it.


Next, you want to look at how you're playing against raises. To do this you go back to the Main Filters tab and you select all positions and in the next box preflop action facing player you select vs. 1 raiser.

Make sure your hole cards tab is back to normal and hit save and close.

Take a look at your results and then filter further, by your opponent's position, your position, hand type etc, until you track down where you're bleeding money.

Next we have in the blinds vs late position steal. In the position box hit small blind and big blind. In the action facing player box hit one raiser. In the position of first raiser box, hit button and cutoff, then go to the filter by actions tab, and tick filter by preflop actions, scroll down to call, highlight it, hit save and close and look at your results.

This will show all hands played where you call a raise from the blinds against a late position steal.

As you did before start filtering your results using the Hole Card tab and look for where the money's going.

You can also filter by hands you three-bet to see how profitably you are three-betting from the blinds vs a steal. But we will go over three-betting later.

Now look at blind vs blind play. First use the filters to filter yourself as the small blind and thus the aggressor. Hit unopened in the preflop action box and once again go to the filter by actions tab and select raise in the preflop actions box.

Once again look at all the different hands in your range and see how they stack up.

Anyone can play with the lead though so the real information can be seen by looking at your play from the big blind vs. a small blind steal raise.

Hit big blind in the position box, 1 raiser in the preflop action box, and set the position of the first raiser to the small blind. Once again set the preflop action to call and save and close and repeat the leak finding process.

The Hole Cards Tab 


The flop, turn and river are where the real money is made and lost.

Each street the betting gets substantially bigger and by the river you're often making decisions for your entire stack.

In light of this it shouldn't surprise you that this is where your leaks really start to magnify.

Again the filters tab in HEM are amazing for breaking down even complex situations..

Let's look at a few postflop leaks commong to many low-stakes players.

Quite a few small-stakes  players call too often on the flop turn and river. You can look at your stats by street using the filter by actions tab.

Set preflop to call, flop to call and go from there. Examine each street individually and look at how you do. Some players call too often on the flop (the flop number will be small) and their stats will suffer, others the turn, and others the river (the flop number will start big and get small by the river).

You can further filter it down by using the hand values tab to see where you're bleeding the money. Are you calling too often with top pair no kicker? Or are you simply just playing out of position too often? Use the Hand value tab and the position box in the main filters tab to find out.

Another area of concern for many players is how they play draws.

To look at your results with your draws go to the hand values tab and select the draws you want to look at. You can filter for everything from nut draws to gutshots. Look at each scenario individually.

The hand value tab. 

Those are just two examples but you can look at absolutely any scenario using these filters.

Once you get the hang of it it's easy. You can look at how you do as the preflop raiser when you c-bet the flop, check the turn, then call on the river. It's just the setting of the different filters. Play around with it.

Some scenarios to look at are firing three barrels as a bluff, playing hands with showdown value (with or without the lead), playing out of position without the lead, etc etc.

Three-bet pots

Today's six-max games are so aggressive it seems like half of your play is in three-bet pots. As such you should be spending a good deal of time thinking about your play in three-bet pots.

To look at your play in three-bet pots with the lead in the main filters tab set preflop action facing player to one raiser and one raiser plus callers, then switch to the filter by actions tab and filter by preflop actions, and select raise.

From there you can look at hands where you're three-betting light or three-betting for value by using the hole cards tab.

You can even go further and use the filters to see how you play in three bet pots from the blinds, how you do on the turn when you're called etc. Go through all these options.

Next you want to look at your play in three-bet pots as the caller. For this you want to use the filter by actions tab and select raise call and call call.

That will bring up all three-bet pots where you don't have the lead.

Again play around with the filters to get the random scenarios you're looking for.

Find Leaks Then Plug Leaks

Leak finding is not an easy job, in fact in can be quite mentally tiring going through all of the possible scenarios. But it's completely necessary.

Poker is a game where you can trick yourself into believing that every play you make is plus-ev, when in reality it may be a losing proposition.

You may continue to make money despite having these leaks and if you never do leak finding you'll never actually know they exist.

But every leak costs you money.

Familiarize yourself with how to use the filters and go through regular, everyday scenarios in your head and adjusting the filters accordingly.

The possibilities are endless and if you've never taken a really hard and honest look at your game you may be surprised at what you find.

Once you find those leaks, it's up to you to plug them up. There are countless articles on this site and sites like it. There are coaching videos and personal coaches. Use a combination of these to fix your leaks, or just use some good old-fashioned critical thinking.

As dogishead says, "Poker loves only the diligent and hates only the lazy." Be diligent and review your play with an unbiased eye and the sky's the limit.

More articles by Daniel Skolovy

2011-01-05 07:34:35

Can i use this on FullTilt because i have heard poker-tracker would get you banned if used on certain cites.. guess i just wanna know what sites are good for both HEM and PT..

2010-04-01 07:07:14

That was a very good article for me, since I recently bought HEM and I’m still learning how to use it efficiently. Thanks!

2010-02-10 02:18:00

As someone who puts a fair bit of thought into their play, but finds the prospect of careful statistical analysis daunting, these articles are great for giving a starting direction when making the most of hand analysis. Great article, thanks.

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