Taking notes during a poker game and labeling your opponents is a part of poker that even winning regulars don’t put enough effort into, even though a good note could prove to be very valuable.
Before we talk about the optimal ways to take notes, let’s take a look at the simpler form of categorizing your opponents. Most poker clients nowadays give players the option to label opponents with various colors, which is a very convenient.
Whom should we sign and which colour we should use?
Deciding how many different colors to use is up to you, but good, winning regulars and the weakest poker players should be labeled with a bright color, so you see them at your table immediately. This is important, because most of the time we should change our gaming strategy against these two types of poker players. It’s also a good idea to give different labels to weaker players if they are too aggressive or passive.
Useful advice: Before you mark a player, find out as much as you can about him (Sharkscope is a good platform to do that).
An effective poker player makes high quality notes
You should beware of forming opinions based on one hand. Every – professionel – poker player makes mistakes and if you see a competent, winning player making a seemingly bad play, you should always ask yourself why he might have done that. Don’t label them immediately as a bad poker player, but keep an eye on them for any other potential mistakes so you can change your color label if needed.
Making poker game notes can be quite time consuming, but if you are effective, the time invested will pay for itself in the long run. If you play on multiple tables then it will be impossible to make a high quality note about every interesting/bad play, so during play you should focus on only writing down the most important reads and mistakes.
Save the rest of the interesting and strange hands for later and sit down once every week to make notes from these hands, this way you can look at the situation with a clear head and decide if your opponent did indeed make a mistake. If they did, writing down a solution how to exploit this mistake is very useful, it will save you a lot of thinking time at the tables.
You will not have a lot of time to read notes while playing, so it’s important to keep your notes brief.
How does a professional and an amateur poker player take notes?
Example of a bad note
160 big blinds deep, after an early position raise, skips continuation bet on A47 rainbow flop with Ace-King
The same note done properly
160bb EP raise, A47r missed cbet AK
The information is the same, but you have to read much less and it looks more professional.
Another example for a bad note
Fish, he calls with any draw
Good note about same player
L-P, any size call w/ draw —> big size vbet F + T
It’s quite possible that we were in an emotional state when we wrote the first note and it won’t be very useful at the poker tables.
In the second example we categorize our opponent (L-P = Loose-Passive) and provide an exploit to take advantage of his playing style (big sized valuebets on flop and turn with our strong hands).
World class poker players have very sophisticated noting and color labeling systems which allows them to immediately categorize players at their table and know how to change their strategy against them.
Taking high quality notes is a great way to improve your gaming strategy and to increase your long term profits, if you haven’t been doing it so far, hopefully our article can help you get started on the road!