There is a defining moment in the game of poker when you sit down at a table to play, and realise that you have at your fingertips the habits and betting tendencies of all of your opponents. This is what comes from taking notes every time you play poker.
Initially you might believe that this sort of labour is worthless and it is often overlooked despite being covered in many poker for beginners strategy articles on the net. After all, if you subscribe to one of the larger poker rooms, there can be fifty thousand or more online at the same time as you – that is a lot of writing! However, once you start playing regularly, you will be astonished at just how often you meet the same players.
This is because players generally tend to move around in very small circles on the poker tables. They have their preferred game and their stakes are determined by their bankroll, so once you take out all the tournament players, all the Omaha and Stud players, those with large bankrolls who are playing at the higher levels and those on the micro-tables, you are possibly down to less than 5% of the people who are logged on actually playing in the same game range as you.
Your notes should consist of the type of game the player favours, whether he is passive or aggressive and can be manipulated or is a rock. If you identify any patterns in their play, you should note these, plus the date and time and the stake levels you are playing, and try to make the notes as comprehensive as possible – always making a summary at the top of the page for easy future reference. Over a period of time you will develop a significant library, and when you consider that on every table there are normally at least five other players when you first arrive, once you have these players recorded, there are only another 49.995 to go!
There are many different ways that you are able to categorise your notes. Some web sites have a facility that allow your notes to be colour coded or labelled depending on how you rank them or if they usually play in one form of competition and not another. If you use this option, you could surprise “Pokerman99” when you see him on the table by greeting him with “Hey Pokerman99 – Don´t normally see you on these tables. I thought you were more of a pot limit player”. Imagine the psychological advantage that you now have over this player.
Writing notes soon becomes habit forming. You might find it difficult to do when playing short-handed, but the effort is worth it. The more work you put into recording how other people play poker, the bigger an advantage you will have the next time you meet them. Making notes also helps you analyse your game, and quite possibly improve it- that will confound all the players who wrote their own notes about you before you started taking the game seriously!