A few months ago I talked about not fooling around with electronics at the table. Using Twitter, Facebook, texting etc. can really put a hindrance on one’s game because you are missing a lot of what is going on at the table. I think that there is one exception to this rule, however, and it has to do with note taking on your phone. I use an Iphone and commonly will open the native notepad program.
When I am trying to do an in depth review of myself I literally write down every hand that I play within a session. You can do this easily by numbering the hands and just indicating fold when you do not play or counting rounds where you start with yourself on the button. If you are using the rounds method you only have to indicate hands that you play in your notes and then add up the total hands by counting the rounds and multiplying by 8 (standard average players in a nine handed, raked game where usually at least one person is walking). Even if you only go so far as to list what you hold preflop when you play a hand this will at least give yourself the ability to evaluate your VPIP (percentage of hands played). This can go very far when you are trying to take some of the spewiness factor out of your game.
In a full ring, nine handed table you really should be playing no more than 25% of your hands. The smaller the game and the shallower the restricted buy in cap the tighter that you should play. You can also draw from these preflop only notes what hands are –EV that you are playing and from what position. Say, for example, we see that we limp called in a 60BB cap game with A♦ 2♦. This is obviously going to be a pretty big preflop error. We can reconcile all of these small mistakes preflop, add them up and see how much money that they have cost us throughout one session. I guarantee that if you are playing $1-$2 and had a $150 positive day but realized that you limp called off almost your entire profit that these notes will help you to play more correct in your next session.
As you get more comfortable with the note taking you can start to construct full hands with action. Here is an example taken directly from my notes in a $5-$5 game last week at the Bike:
UTG +2 I raise QJdd. 2 calls.
OOP Q59ss. I bet $45 one call.
2c. I bet $95 call.
Ts. I check bet $200 fold.
As you can see the hand is pretty short and sweet and I do not write much. I also do not have the effective stack sizes here, as it wasn’t really important to the hand.
I am lucky in the fact that I have a pretty good memory when given little bits of information. I tend to suspect that most of your memories work in the same way. I might come back from a session and only remember the details of three or four hands out of hundreds that I play but if I am given little bits of information about each hand, like what I hold preflop and the given action, I can remember every hand that I played almost perfectly. I am at a point now where I can basically look back at my notes and count up the amount of $$ mistakes that I make. I sometimes come out of a session review thinking that I should have been up hundreds or even thousands of dollars more without making some simple mistakes. This gives me motivation to play my A game the next time I am at the casino. For a more in depth discussion about note taking check out my podcast “Seat Open Podcast #5 Note Taking and Delayed 3-Bet Pots” over at Seatopenpoker.net