One of the most overlooked skills in online poker is note taking. Taking notes while playing online is the equivalent of having a tell on someone in a live game. The information you gather on your opponents can be crucial and invaluable later on down the road.
Many players, even top players, underestimate the value of good note taking. It’s hard to understand why not everyone takes diligent notes while playing. It’s rather easy to do so, unless you’re playing 15 tables at a time, but even then you should never compromise quality for quantity.
Taking a note on a player while playing online is made simple by poker rooms these days. Each site has their own way of going about this, but the basic concept is clicking on an opponent and writing down your notes in the text box. This will generally leave an icon on the player’s avatar that will let you know you have notes on this player.
What makes a good note?
While taking notes is a start to using this tool successfully, you need to know what a good note will look like. Many of us use tracking software that will have information on players such as how often they play a pot, how often they 3 bet, and how often they fold to a c-bet.
If you are using any form of tracking software, you need to focus on more detailed notes to bolster the tracking you’re already getting. Far too often, I will see a player write a note like, “player folded to c-bet on draw heavy board.” This is the perfect example of a useless note.
If you were to glance at this note a month from now, you would have little to no information on this player. The note does absolutely no good for many reasons. First off, you have a note based on 1 hand, whereas the player may have folded on a dry board or decided to check raise another player on a draw heavy board. There are just too many factors that can change the decision of a player during the course of many hands.
So what exactly involves good note taking?
The first step to a good note is to make sure you write down the date of when the note was taken. This is important, because players you run into a month or two down the road may have learned new skills and changed the way they play slightly. It’s completely normal for a decent player to change the way they play certain hands, or even their overall game. A note taken 2 years ago could be worthless on some players. Knowing when the note was taken is vital to its effectiveness.
Next step is to write down the actual cards on the board. Simply writing, “player folded on a draw heavy board,” means nothing.
You also want to have a note that was based on more than just 1 hand in some cases. For example, if a player calls a c-bet but folds on the turn a large percentage of the time, this is a handy note to have. Any player can fold 1 or 2 hands in this manner, but if you start to notice a trend, or pattern of play over many hands, take a note on this.
To conclude, I’d like to cement the idea that note taking is not a waste of time, as many players might argue. It can be one of the best skills you learn, and should be considered a time investment that will pay off big in the future.