The online guys have it much easier for record keeping. People are terrible at remembering the details of hands even an hour after they are played, so to improve we need to write down the hands as soon as possible. In an earlier post, I covered how to write up an individual hand history. This time I want to cover how to record every hand in a session. This is a much more intensive thing to do. I used this method for recording all the hands for an eight hour session that became Ship The Turn.

Here is what the form looks like:

tabular hand BRANDED TabularHandRecorder can be downloaded here.

I print two or three per page and each sheet is good for one orbit. There are ten sections per page. The top half of each section is where I put the pre-flop action. the bottom half is the post flop action with dedicated places for the board cards. Here are two example hands.  There was nothing recorded while Hero was on the button. handTabularExample

The first recorded hand Hero is in Hi-jack.  There is a limper in EP1 and MP1. We have 86o and fold. Normally I would not write down folds or anything when it is a clear fold, but you can still record marginal folds if you want to review them later.

The second hand is more complicated.  Ep2 limps and eventually calls my raise.  Mp2 limps and folds to my raise. In the cut-off I hold AKo and raise to $15. Notice the underline of the King.  This means the suit becomes relevant later when the board has a flush draw.  Since there is never more than two flush draws on a board, I use underline for front door flushes and overlines for backdoor. The blinds fold and so it is two to the flop of A36 with the 36 suited the same as my King. The flop action has Villain check, Hero bets $20 and Villain calls. The turn brings a third flush card, the Seven.  Villain check calls Hero’s $55 bet. The River is a third off-suit Ace. Villain check-folds to our $120 bet.

This is a very clear and compact way of recording hands quickly. Sometimes a hand slot is not used because there are not ten at the table, so just draw a line through the section. You might need to improvise putting stack sizes and such in, but much of the paper will be unused since mostly you are folding anyways, right?

This method can be exhausting and distracting if you are trying to record every hand, but it is the best way to record everything. I will do this for students when I am doing a ride-along where I sit behind a student for an entire session so it does not distract from play. This April’s video, Coaching Ride-Along (available to PRO members), shows some of the hands that I captured for a couple of recent students out here in Las Vegas.

Showing 7 comments
  • Charlie

    Cool stuff! The next step is someone really clever and techy to put this into neat app form 🙂 I know I’d happily pay to have something like this on my phone…

  • Anton

    Charlie, i think there has been immense amount of attempts of people trying to do these apps, but most of them are such horrible fails…

    Using text editor on your phone, using a stylus on a tablet/phone with apps like OneNote, or just simply writing them down in a notepad (or a template table like Doug provided) – is still the best way it seems 🙂

  • Adam

    I like this. I use a pdf anotator to record single hands on my 7 inch tablet (nexus 7) with a good stylus. My for looks a lot like the hand record table Doug and Ed use in their books.

    This system looks like it may work even better then the one I use (weather I record many hands or just a few) . Thanks will give it a try.

  • Steve

    The link to the Coaching Ride-Along seems to be broken (404 error)

    • Red Chip Poker

      Thanks for the HU Steve! All links updated in this post. Please note that the videos require a PRO Membership to view them.

  • Josh

    For anyone who has tried this at a live table, have you ever:

    1. Had anyone else object to your note-taking?
    2. Felt that it affected your table image?


    • Doug Hull

      It is rare for anyone to say anything. Like twice in five years rare. One of the people was not even playing in the game.

      Developing the attitude that their opinions don’t matter, do what you want is healthy.