Sometimes it seems as though online poker players get all the perks. They can play a bunch of tables at once, track their winnings, and save their own hands into a useful database. The ability to save your own hands into a database that you can refer back to on a whim is a huge asset for the studious player. So knowing how to save live hand histories for later review can greatly benefit your game. Here are three ways to go about this:
Write them down RIGHT after
We live in a beautiful world with technology at our fingertips 24/7, and we can use it to improve our poker game. Since pretty much every single person reading this has a smartphone, it’s incredibly easy to take notes and write down messages at the tables. When done well, the other players at the table won’t know if you’ve just noted a hand history or responded to a text from your wife.
You can jot down quick hands for later review with a free notepad, or even just send yourself an email with the hand history in the message. I personally use my Google Drive to take notes so everything is synced when I return to my laptop later. Just choose a method that works well for you so you can take down quick hands and find them later on.
Writing a hand down is one thing, but knowing WHAT to write is another. Some players write down too many details while others forget vital details and get confused when trying to study the hand history the following day. The goal is to write down just enough detail so you can review the hand later, but not so much detail that it takes you 12 minutes to finish noting the situation. Here is an example of a note I might take:
1/2 NL – Venetian
$250 eff stacks
I open KK from MP to 10, CO (LAG) calls, HU to flop
Js 8h 5h, I cbet 15, he calls
Ac, I check, he checks
5s, I bet 30, he raises to 75
Is it pretty? Nope. Does it get the job done? You bet. I’ve noted the stakes, effective stacks, my cards, positions, reads (in this case that villain is a LAG), the board cards and all important actions. I don’t need to waste time noting that the small blind folded, nor that I had $500 and the CO only had $250. Only essential information is included so that I can study the hand later and figure out the best line and proper future adjustment for the hand. The truth of the matter is that MY specific notes are even shorter where I use “c-c” instead of “I check, he checks” and I would use “i B 30, he R 75” to take an even quicker note. Just make sure you find a system that works for you and that you’ll be able to decipher later!
Live Poker Player’s Journal
After a number of requests to create a journal for saving live hand histories, I finally pulled the trigger and made one. The concept was to have a minimalist journal that is simple to use, allows you to capture all the information you need for post-session review, and had extra pages for manual note taking and result monitoring. From that was born the Live Poker Player’s Journal which you can pick up from Amazon.
Each book has 50 hand history charts, 40+ pages for keeping track of notes and results, and some clear examples showing how to use these charts for quick and powerful usage at the table. Keep yours in your car so you have it ready for your next session!
There’s an app for that!
Check out your app store for a smartphone/tablet app that can help you with the process. For instance, if you use an Android device you can use an app like Poker Agent. There is a free trial version and a premium $9 version. The best news is that it not only allows you to take notes on hands…but you can also monitor your bankroll, get a PokerStove-esque equity calculator, etc. There are other apps out there as well, just do some Googling or searching in your app store to find one that works for you and your device.
Whichever method you choose is 100% up to you. You just need to transcribe the hand (regardless of the method), you need to write down the important details, and of course…you actually need to study it later to get the full use out of the exercise! Writing down a bunch of hands and never reviewing them later is just as useless as going to study and realizing you’ve forgotten all of those awesome hand histories.