Note Taking in Poker

One of the biggest differences between offline poker and online poker is the ability to take notes on your opponents. All the top poker sites have a player note taking system, giving players the ability to keep notes on an opponent. This stores information about a player, allowing you to reference this information, should the need present itself in a future hand. Imagine being put to a tough test against an aggressive player, and you have a note telling you he is capable of triple barrel bluffs on scary boards, and you find yourself in a similar situation in this hand. Do you think this would help you? Of course it would!

If you are serious about playing poker online, you really should get into the habit of taking player notes. Although at the lower limit games the pool of players is much bigger so you won’t always encounter the same players at the table, as you move up in limits, the pools is reduced, and you will definitely start gaining history with many of the regulars for that particular game. Obviously when you are caught up in the action especially when you are multi tabling you don’t have a lot of time to make extremely in-depth notes. So it would be in your best interests to get better and leaving short concise notes that get the point across.

So what exactly should you be including in player notes to help with forming reads and so on? It would serve no purpose to make notes that state the obvious and plays, which you would deem incredibly standard. If you see a player go all in with KK pre-flop that’s to be expected and doesn’t tell you a great deal about how they play.

Basically anything that surprises you when a hand gets to showdown is likely good info to make a note about. You don’t necessarily have to be involved in the hand either. If you observe a player’s actions and it differs to what most players would do at this particular limit that would be worth leaving a note on. For example, if I see a player stack off with AJ pre-flop when 100 big blinds deep that is not typical for micro stakes games and it suggests this player is a lot more aggressive pre-flop. This is extremely useful information you would want to know about an opponent because it helps you determine what hand range you should stack off against him, so by taking a note to know they shove wide pre-flop, you can retrieve this info at a later time.

Generally speaking, passive poker players will play much more predictably in a straightforward fashion, it’s the tricky aggressive players that can make life difficult, and these are the players that should be your priority when taking player notes. Some of these players will be raising lots pre-flop and continuing with a flop continuation bet, whilst others will barrel a lot and really be looking to put the pressure on you. Whatever they do, you want to get a better idea about their pre-flop and post-flop tendencies so you can better adjust to their play. If a player 3bets pre-flop and you highly suspect he is getting out of line and has nothing, then you can just allow him to spew off his chips post flop.

When it comes to taking player notes, you really need the most efficient means of accomplishing this. In other words, less is more, you’re not getting any awards for writing the best essay here and as long as you can understand it and the info is meaningful that’s all that matters. It can be helpful using abbreviations when taking notes to save some time, which is of utmost concern when playing poker at the same time. Basically, explain how the hand went down, including relevant information like position, bet sizing, using abbreviations such as UTG, CO, BTN, ½ pot, etc and take a note of the board texture, making note of the cards and what type of board it was. Was it a rainbow flop (all different suits) two tone flop (potential flush draw) and so on. All of this can be listed in a single line and you can get back to the action.

An example of note taking for a player would be, BTN open, SB calls /w AQ and c/r 843 rainbow flop. So based on this you would know in future hands this guy was capable of playing back at cbets with air and you can adjust accordingly by cbetting less when we miss, three-betting on the flop, and so on. Player notes in combination with a poker HUD will help turn you from a losing or break even player into a solid winning online player, simply because you will have better reads on your opponents, and as a result, making fewer mistakes.