Note Taking in Poker
Every online poker site has built in capabilities to take notes on players. So do the major poker tracking software. If the site is one that allows screen name changes but carries the notes over through screen name changes, definitely use the built in software. Otherwise, using the tracking software note taking is better, because it can be accessed more easily while reviewing hands, as well as the potential to track bad and good players using the same screen name on multiple sites.
So what should you write in a note about another player
Specific actions that expose the thought process of another player.
Use abbreviations and shorthand that you will understand in the future. Something like RR3x = reraised to 3x initial raise size, BLF = bluff, SWPY = slow play, and so on.
Make note of odd actions and betting patterns (overbets, very small bets, unusual lines, etc) even if you don’t get to see your opponent’s cards. This way when it happens again, you will have an idea of how frequently these actions occur.
Differentiate between hands that involve you and those that don’t involve you. If the hand doesn’t involve you, make note of the basic stats of the other player in the hand.
Dates. We can’t stress this one enough. When we first took notes we weren’t even thinking about the fact that we might be playing the same guys 3 years later. Sure enough, we ended up playing against players at 1000nl with notes that may have been from 50nl. Both you and the other player will have likely changed greatly. If you label your notes (month and year is good enough), you will know how relevant your notes are.
If you have a battle with another player, whether in the chat box or through targeted aggressive play, you should make note of this. Forgetting a contentious history with another player could cost you a lot of money if you don’t realize you are getting bluffed more frequently than normal.
Good note taking is certainly an advantage as most players are not rigorous about it, and some do not even do it at all. If you play way too many tables to take good notes and if you’ve found a way to play a lot of tables and make money without doing much more than looking at a heads up display, there is not much reason to fix it.
At the beginning, you will struggle just to be making a profit, so your focus should be on making as many quality decisions on very few tables to ensure that you play winning poker.
But taking good notes will absolutely boost your win rate, at a small sacrifice to how fast you can play. It will not only help you recognize some players and how they play, it will also help you learn the game of poker. Because by taking such notes you will learn the various styles of players you will meet on the virtual felt.