Most online poker rooms include a feature that allows you to take notes on your opponents. This is extremely useful. Even though many online card rooms have enormous user bases, you’ll be surprised to find yourself playing against some of the same players frequently. By taking notes on these players, you can categorize and remember their strategies, and you’ll be better prepared to play against them and beat them in the future.
When preparing to take notes on your opponents, your first step is to learn and use some basic abbreviations. The pace of play in online poker is often very fast compared to live poker, and you’ll need to be able to take notes quickly and efficiently. Some abbreviations deal with betting position; EP is early position, MP is middle position, LP is late position, BTN is button, SB is small blind, BB is big blind. Other abbreviations have to do with betting strategies; PFR is preflop raise, 3x is three times the size of the big blind, C-bet is continuation bet, Chk is check, VB is value bet.
Some abbreviations indicate the types of hands that players are pursuing; Fdrw is a flush Draw, SDrw is straight draw, Gut is a gutshot straight draw, Back is a backdoor flush draw, TP is top pair, MP is a mid pair, BP is a bottom pair. Other notes might be an indication of what to do (or what not to do) against a particular player. For example, DNB means Do Not Bluff. You can obviously change these abbreviations as you see fit. As long as the system is efficient and works for you, your note taking will be useful.
Taking Notes on Playing Styles
When you start to utilize note taking in online poker, you should begin by paying careful attention to your opponents’ playing styles. You can categorize your adversaries in one of four ways: Tight-aggressive, Tight-passive, Loose-aggressive, and Loose-passive. A tight player brings only premium hands to the flop, and only brings a hand to the showdown when it’s still strong. Looser players see more flops and often end up in the showdown with a garbage hand.
An aggressive player will bet aggressively, while a passive player won’t invest much money in the pot regardless of the strength of his hand. These qualities can be used in combination when you’re taking your notes. It is advisable to use the first few hands of a poker game to categorize each player into one of these playing styles.
Other Considerations for Note Taking in Online Poker
After you establish a note on your opponent’s general playing style, you can start asking yourself more specific questions in order to make your notes more complete. Is your opponent calling excessively? Are they pursuing draws too often? Are they paying too much to bring these draws to the flop? Do they place too much value on top pair? Are they making sure to bring a good kicker to the showdown? What is the average size of their bets, and do their betting amounts directly correlate with the strength of their hand?
Alternatively, they might be using uniform betting sizes to cover their tracks and prevent you from detecting a betting tell. These are all important things to take note of when playing online poker.
The Importance of Consistency in Note Taking in Online Poker
As you’re taking notes, you’ll be able to choose whatever format works best for you. You might decide that your note will be a description of their playing style, their average bet size, the types of hands their playing, and any other warnings to remember about that player. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re consistent. If you make a note of Do Not Bluff for one player, be sure to make the same note for every player who you’ve decided can’t be bluffed. Incomplete or inconsistent notes can be misleading when you see a player two weeks after your first encounter with him.
If you’re going to play successfully online, you’ll need to seek out and take advantage of tiny edges to compensate for the lack of physical interaction. One of these edges is available to any player online, on almost any site… and that’s the ability to take permanent notes on the players you compete against.