Taking Notes in Poker: Don’t Rely Solely on Software

In poker it’s always important to develop reads on your opponents. You want to have a good idea of roughly how many hands each of them plays and if they are passive or aggressive when they do play a hand.  This isn’t too hard to do when you’re playing live at the casino but it’s a whole different animal if you play online and everyone hides behind the cloak of anonymity.

Thankfully, there are some amazing poker tracking software programs that have considered every statistic that could possibly be of interest to players and collects data automatically when you play. Despite how helpful they are, however, software programs shouldn’t be a complete substitute for developing real reads. It’s important to remember that looking at the stats won’t tell you everything and you need to be able to keep your attention on the table(s) you are playing. It’s very tempting for players with wandering attention spans to rely solely on their statistics and Heads Up Displays (HUDs) for all their information, but if they do so they will be hurting their long term profitability. Sure, they can certainly still end up winners, but they could be finding a lot more profitable situations if they cut the laziness and pay better attention to the game.

An online poker player needs to put players on ranges even when they aren’t involved in the hand. After you fold, you should be picking up vital pieces of information from the players who stay in; this information will come in handy during later hands.

Hand reading is a general skill that improves with every hand that you play. In order to get better faster, you should close your browser windows during your poker sessions and stop checking email and twitter. The online world brings a plethora of distractions but none of them should be on your mind when you sit down to play poker.

There are tons of questions you should be asking yourself when you are taking notes on your opponents. Do they seem to be to be positionally aware? Do they ever make limp-reraises? And if they do, with what sort of hand? Do they slowplay their big hands? What hands do they donk bet with? Do they seem to go on tilt if they suffer a few bad beats? You should very rarely finish a session without having written at least 10-15 notes on your opponents. Just about every big hand that goes to showdown should translate to a note of some quality.

Your opponents are going to make mistakes, and its your job to stay alert enough to catch them and use it to your advantage next time you’re in a pot with them.

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