In Part I of our discussion on note-taking, we discussed taking notes on the ways that each of our opponents plays his hands. Now, in Part II, we will primarily focus on your own playing, with due regard for your opponents’ playing traits and other factors. The information gathered will be of value both during this session and later as you seek to improve your results at the table.
As before, use a small piece of paper that folds over to fit into your shirt pocket. At the top, note the date, the casino, and starting time.
- Keep a running tally of the number of hands dealt while you were sitting at that table.
- Tally the number of hands you played to showdown. You might use a series of arrows pointing upward, in groups of five (maximum); the higher the arrow points, the more chips in the pot (an estimate is okay).
- Note the number of your winning hands, followed by the losers two lines below.
- Add the letter “R” to the right of the arrow when win or loss was on the River.
- Skip a line.
- Tally the number of hands dealt that you folded pre-flop.
- Tally the number of starting hands for which you paid to see the flop.
- Calculate the ratio of these two tallies: played/folded.
- Tally your semi-bluffs and bluffs. Add a “W” (won) or “L” (lost) to the right of each.
- Do the same for hands you slow-play.
- Do the same for the hands you check-raise.
- If there is other data you would like to gather, include it.
These note taking tips apply both for live poker sessions in brick and mortar rooms as well as your sessions in online poker rooms. For example, Lucas Hurley mentions that NZ online casinos that accept Google Pay are a great place to play poker online and jot down notes during your game play.
When the session is over, before you leave the casino or log out of the online casino site, note how much money you won or lost during this session. Also, calculate the amount per hour played. If you change tables, do this for each table at which you played. Briefly note your reason for the table change. You might also make note of the texture of the game at which you just played. Allow yourself some time to do this. Do it while things are still fresh in your mind.
These are your notes for the session. When you get home, review your notes. There is a lot of information here; try to make good use of it. What can you glean from the data that you might use to improve your results the next time you go to the casino? Compare this data with similar information from previous sessions.
Ask yourself: What changes might I make to further improve my results? Write the answer down for future reference.
Consider whether you feel ready to move up to the next level in game stakes. If you have a good poker buddy, you might discuss your notes with him. (Two heads are better than one.)
In a recent column, we discussed a number of betting patterns that poker players use. See if any of your opponents used one of these patterns. Likewise, it wouldn’t hurt to see which patterns work best for you.
Never Rely on Luck
Having gathered all that data, always remember to put probability laws to work for you. For example, with a drawing hand, use the 4-2 Rule to estimate your card odds, and compare this to the pot odds for a Positive Expectation; i.e., whether the pot odds are higher than the card odds against completing your hand. If it is close, consider the implied pot odds, depending on how many bets will be made on later rounds of play.