Increase Your Poker Winnings By Taking Notes

Learn how to take notes when playing poker and watch your winnings begin to soar

Taking notes on your opponents is crucial to continued success. Poker is a game played with incomplete information. Our chances of winning increase when we have more information at our fingertips. Taking notes is one way of gathering more information and, therefore, increasing our chances of a winning session.

Online poker players often post screenshots from the lobbies of the tournaments they’ve won. Check these out and you’ll notice several or dozens of the other players have symbols next to their names. This is because the player has taken notes on his opponents.

The very best cash game or tournament players have stacks of information on the players they face. They use this information to try and give themselves an advantage. This can be by exploiting a player’s tendencies or folding on specific boards.

Anyone can take notes, but not everyone does so skilfully. We’ve already said poker is a game played with incomplete information. The only thing more dangerous than no information is wrong information, which means you need to be careful what you jot down.

Taking Notes: Color Coding

The simplest form of giving yourself an advantage in online poker games is to tag your opponents. Most online poker sites have the facility to tag players with a variety of colors. This is a great way to start your note taking.

A traffic light system works best, that is red, yellow and green. Tag someone as red if you think they’re a good player. Yellow highlights work for players you’re unsure of. Highlight players in green if you have reason to believe this player is a fish!

You can start adding more colors once you have more details about your foes. For now, however, keeping matters simple is best because you can see at a glance which players to target and which to avoid.

Taking Notes: What Should I Write?

It’s all well and good saying take notes but what exactly should you write about? You don’t want to write a manuscript on players because you won’t have time to read it during play. Likewise, you don’t want notes that aren’t useful to you because they’re pointless.

Realise that your notes are fluid and subject to change. You can start with some basics then add meat to the bones.

Think about what info is useful to you when you play poker against someone. You want to know if they’re loose-aggressive, or play tight. What hands do they defend their blinds with? Which do they steal with? These are a good set of foundations to build your profile with.

Look for patterns in your opponents and make notes on your findings. Do they fold to three-bets too frequently? Do they call a continuation bets only to fold to a second barrel on the turn. Write it down if so.

Start to note how they play draws, too. Make a note if they play draws fast, or if they prefer check-calling. What about their bet sizes with made hands and drawing hands? Write down anything you can use in your favor if you clash with them again.

How To Write

Online games progress much faster than their live counterparts. This means you need to keep your notes short yet concise. They need to be useful yet easy to digest in the heat of battle.

Create a shorthand system that you understand. You don’t need to know how to write in proper short-hand, just a version that is clear to you.

For example, a note reading “TAG, F2 c-bet, FD fast” lets me know an opponent is tight-aggressive, folds to continuation-bets frequently and plays flush draws fast.”

Another example may be “C 3B OOP with ATo c/c K63r c/c 4 c/f 8.” This is slightly more complicated but describes a full hand. Here, our opponent called a three-bet out of position with ace-ten offsuit. They check-called a bet on a K-6-3 rainbow flop. They check-called a bet when a four landed on the turn. We bet on the 8 river when checked to and they folded.

Find a system that works for you and be prepared to change the notes you’ve made. One bizarrely played hand shouldn’t be used to base your complete judgement on. They could have been on tilt. There’s a note for you: Player goes on monkey tilt easily!

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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