Tracking Your Records: Excel-ent Practice

It's imperative that any player who plays poker often enough to call it a hobby, a passion or even their source of employment keep detailed notes on their sessions.

Legitimate businesses have accountants who spend their days looking over cash flow. To grow any sort of company and increase its profits, you have to have a clear understanding of where you make your profit and what accounts for your losses. Your poker exploits are no exception.

Without keeping notes on all of the sessions you play, it's simply not possible for you to truly analyze your game. You need to understand where you make your money, and how much money each area makes you.

Almost all winning poker players become losing players at some specific limit. If the only number you keep track of is your total roll, you will never know if any specific limit is a money pit for you.

For example, if you make $20/hour playing a $5/$10 game, but lose $10 an hour playing $10/$20, as long as you played more hours of $5/$10, at the end of the month you will have ended up on top. Because you see the month as being in the black, you will continue to play $10/$20, not realizing how much money it's costing you to do so.

What to Track

The more information you record and track, the more interesting reports you can create with that information. You have to decide exactly how in-depth you care to go and are capable of going.

No matter what you choose, some items are vital for all players to track. For every session you should record:

  • Date
  • Hours spent at the table
  • Limit
  • Total buy-in amount (including all cap-ups and rebuys)
  • Total cash-out amount

This information will allow you to see your profits/losses, hourly rate, BB/hour ratio, yearly trends (what months are more or less profitable) and how many buy-ins deep you go in for on average.

If you want your records to be more informative, you can also keep track of:

  • Location
  • Variant
  • Specific players at the table
  • Day of the week
  • Time of day
  • Mood

Recording this data will help you figure out:

  • Where you make the most money
  • What days of the week/times of day you tend to play best
  • How your mood affects your results
  • How specific opponents affect your results
  • Which variants are most profitable for you

These are all important pieces of information for a professional poker player to know.

If you're a casual player, the first set of results will do you just fine.

How to Track It

In my humble opinion, the best way to track these numbers is to write them down in a little book at the table. When you get home, put them into an Excel spreadsheet. This makes it simple to get instant reports and results, as well as allowing for more in-depth analysis.

If you've never used Excel before, there's no better time to start. Grab some online tutorials and figure the program out. Once you have even a rudimentary knowledge of the program, you can start to create your stats-tracking spreadsheet.

Here's an example of a very simple stats-tracking setup:

1  Date Hrs Limit Buy-in Cash-Out Result $/h
2 15-Oct-08 4 $2-$5 $1,000 $2,150 $1,150 $143.75

The first five columns (A-E) need to be filled out by you, but the last two can be populated by Excel automatically; to do that you're going to need to put a formula into each field. If you click on a field and enter an equal sign into that field, Excel will discern that you're creating a formula.

Result: =SUM(E2-D2)

$/h: =PRODUCT(F2/B2)

Now when you add a new row of data into row three, all you have to do is highlight the column with a formula you want to reuse, copy it and paste it into the new cell.

Better yet, you can use the Fill Down function. Use the mouse to select the cell with the formula, and all the cells below it you want the formula in, and hit CTRL-D (or use the "File" menu to select the option "Fill Down").

Now you have a simple spreadsheet. To easily build other basic formulas, use the built-in formula builders in Excel. All you have to do is follow the instructions, point and click.

If you want to get more advanced, a little googling and you can figure out how to run almost any report you can think of. For example, here's the formula to calculate your BB/h (based on a table layout like the one above):

=PRODUCT(_(F2/(RIGHT(C2,LEN(C2)-FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE (C2,"-","*",LEN(C2)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(C2,"-","")_)_)_)_)_)/B2)_)

*NOTE: All underscores ( _ ) need to be removed for this formula to work.

This formula is a fancy way of doing this: Result/BB)/Hours). All the stuff in the middle is just to get the big blind (or big bet if you're playing limit) from the Limit field. If you had two fields (Low-Limit and High-Limit), this formula would be much simpler.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, start keeping track of every session you play. If you already do keep track of your sessions, then start tracking more info about them. Used logically and truthfully, the data and reports you generate will present you with practical ways to maximize your ROI.

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Dominic Willett 2010-04-21 18:16:04

There is a software package that does this for you. I own it and it works out well for me as far as tracking and charting my winnings (and losses!). Poker Session Manager 2 ( For the record I used Excel in the past but just found it too bulky to really see trends.

Sean Lind 2010-03-22 19:12:10

Dave, that depends on how fancy you want to get really. But basically you would need to start with two fields, start time and end time.

Either use date + time, or just time, but if you use just time you'll need to use an if statement in your calculation to find when the end time is lower than the start time (past midnight, on to the next day).

The best way would be with dates, since everything would get messed up if you played more than 24 hours (it happens).

If you're using dates + time, you can just subtract one from the other... sort of. read this, it might help:

Dave 2010-03-21 05:36:31

Can someone tell me how to do a fomula for "Start Time and End Time" so as to give the calculated total time in _hr_mins?

Thanks in advanced.

Sean Lind 2010-01-15 19:09:01


There are a bunch of online stat trackers out there. I think some of them are free as well, but I can't be sure of that since I don't really use them.

Any report they can make, so can I. As a geek, I would rather do it myself.

Paul Zaczkowski 2010-01-15 02:12:54

I was thinking about making a database-driven web version of this, but then I stumbled upon It seems to be fairly detailed and easy to use (from what I can see in the screenshots). Figured I'd post this here in case anyone wanted to avoid the Excel hassle.

Sean Lind 2010-01-04 20:10:35


Hey, I'm glad that worked for you.

As for other stats, you can really make any stat you want. I actually built a whole spreadsheet with reports and graphs for this article (the reports and graphs are simple, just to give an example), but at the time it didn't work out to provide that actual file.

But really anything you want to have happen, you can. I'm a fan of running reports to give results based on time-frame, limit, location, game type, ect.

Excel's a much more powerful program than most people think. Technically you could build a spreadsheet which would tie into a Poker Tracker database to update automatically and run reports, allowing you to mix online and live results... but that's a whole different ball game.

Simon Brown 2010-01-03 11:08:20

Worked Sean more than happy now, introduced an another "box" for Average/bb/hour overall which is nice too. If anyone wanted to add that the formula i easy,

=AVERAGE(CellREF:Cellref) i.e

Cheers again:

P.S do you have anymore extra stats you can work out in Excel?

Sean Lind 2010-01-02 19:46:54


The formula you're using is specific to the formatting I used in the example.


The formula takes that and uses the "-" as the reference point to know what the big blind is.

For the formula to work you either need to replace all your limits from 0.05/0.10 to 0.05-0.10 or you need to change all "-" in the formula to "/"

that should do it for you.

Simon 2010-01-02 14:25:29


^^ all the formula didnt add in properly

SIMON B 2010-01-02 14:24:03

tried the formula above cant get it to work even using the excel error editor.

error: #VALUE!


Thats what im using:
B7 = 0.05/0.10
E7 = difference in $ i.e ($23.4)
F7 = Hours (1.1)

anyone see anything wrong / wouldnt mind checking the excel file for me?


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