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Taking Notes is the Nuts!


In this article
  • Why taking notes is important
  • Of what you should take notes
  • How to use notes wisely

As a strategy article writer, I know my audience pretty well. I know what people want to read about. They want to come up with new kinds of moves. They want to be one of the first people to gain knowledge of the almighty reverse range merge 4-bet or the triple check-raise. The ”boring” articles outside playing actual hands often go ignored. There's nothing wrong with that kind of attitude. However, if you want to get better at MTTs, I suggest you read this article carefully. It won't teach you how to reverse merge your ranges, but it will teach you how to fix a leak that I bet most MTT players have. Reading this article will increase your ROI, making you more money in the long run, because – as the title says – taking notes is the nuts!

I assume everyone knows how to take notes in different software, so I'm not going to go through that. Personally I like to make notes in “Hold'em Manager”, so I can look at them at the same time as I go through hands with the HEM replayer. I strongly recommend you to open your HEM, go to HUD options > Player preferences > Appearance and check “Show note icon”. This will add a small icon to your HUD and by clicking on the icon, you can make notes at any time when you play or go through hands after a session. After this, you're all set.

So, what's the big deal about making notes? First off, I'd argue that it's more important to take notes in MTTs than in any other form of poker. This is because the fields include so many players that we don't play with the same regs often enough to remember exactly how they play, but just enough so that we need to know how they play.

When playing cash games, you play the same regs all the time and log hundreds or even thousands of hands against them in every session. When playing them, recent history (what has happened in the session you're currently playing) becomes the key factor when making decisions. In tournaments you usually don't play more than 30 or 40 hands against the same person at a time, because the tables are being broken constantly.

You don't have time to carry out surveillance on their playing style in one session, because in such a short period of time it's impossible to get a sample of how they play with different stack sizes and how they play postflop. You need to start writing down their tendencies from the beginning, and then expand your notes every time you get more information.

It's a good idea to come up with acronyms that'll make note-taking easier. You're going to have many tables fired up most of the time and you won't have time to write a novel. What you should be aiming to do is to write down your observations as quickly and in as few words as possible. Remember that you also have to read the notes the next time you see him and the fewer words there are the easier and faster it is for you to read.

So please, use acronyms such as IP/OOP (In/Out Of Position), write down positions as "SB" instead of Small Blind and don't write down entire hands when it's not necessary. For example, when the river was a King for a 10d-4d-3c-2h-Kh board and you want to make a note that your opponent check raised you with AK, there's no point writing down the suits and the other cards. Just write "cr'd river w/AK on xxxxK missed FD". Of course you don't have to copy my style exactly, whatever's the most effective for you.

Here's an example of notes I have on a reg I play against every now and then:

55% ROI at $30 ABI over 2000 games
Re-steal capable (20BB 3bet shove was JT)
2x 3bet was AA, 2,5x 3bet was AK

He raised from MP AdKd 40bb deep and you defended BB with QT. Flop Qxxdd, he cbet in pos and took a free card on a brick turn, checked back brick river Pot controls weak TP type hands

You got caught 4-bet bluffing him with 87
He thinks you're aggro

And then I have his hud stats:

VPIP 14%, PFR 12%, 3-bet 5%, aggression factor 3, 1200 hands

Which one do you think helps me more, the notes or the HUD stats? Basically, all the regs have fairly similar HUD stats, and it doesn't really affect my decision-making whether a reg has stats of 15/13 or 14/12. Whenever someone has stats that suggests he's a regular (remember: in cash games regulars can have very different stats, but in MTTs you can't deviate from solid play all that much and still win, so it's much easier to spot a good MTT regular than a good cash game regular based on stats), I need to have something other than my HUD to help me make decisions. If I haven't got any notes, I rely on what he's doing right now at the table we’re playing. But if I've got notes, I already know how to play against him.

So, what kind of notes should you be taking?


That's not the entire article...

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Comments (10)

#1 jdnismo, 01 Sep 11 19:35

Great article, I don't even play MTT's and I found it very interesting.

#2 SryImNoob, 03 Sep 11 01:09

yes this is really interesting and will be helpful even in cg

#3 JohanRember, 20 Sep 11 13:41

Great article, will definately start taking more notes after reading this. Thanks!

#4 ThreeFour34, 19 Nov 11 20:19

3-bet shoving 44 at 15-20 BB is understanding push or fold concept?

#5 luizsilveira, 21 Nov 11 13:13

Great article, much much more than only note taking.

I do have a question though; how much is it really worth it to keep decent notes on recreational players. Those guys might play one MTT a month so I might seldom bump into him again ever.

#6 BigAl123456, 06 Oct 12 04:56

Great artical, would also like your thoughts on #5s question?

#7 cheers4chips, 05 Aug 14 23:21

Superb read & is going to help my game, more shipped tourneys to come :-)

#8 Razorheart, 06 Feb 15 09:25

Great article that gives a lot of strategy tips as well.

#9 AApoKKer, 16 Nov 15 11:59

Is great idea but there will be no room for every hand on how your opponent played.

#10 Nhoxalone, 18 Feb 16 15:58

cảm ơn