How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Records


Part 9 of 10 in our series for the beginner Texas Hold'em player, the point of this article is to convince you to keep detailed and accurate records of your play.

Even the most honest and able-minded poker players have a tendency to distort the truth about their results from their poker sessions.

Most poker players in fact don't even have a physical poker bankroll - money that is only used for poker.

Their money is split between real-life needs and their poker playing. Without keeping stats, it can be really easy to lose track of exactly how well you're doing at the poker table.

Even if you're winning, how can you tell by how much?

Out-of-pocket players like this are only concerned with two numbers:

  1. The amount of money they come into the poker room with.
  2. The amount of money they leave the poker room with.

If you want to not suck at poker, you'll need to know exactly how much you win or lose at a specific game or limit.

Do you crush $1/$2 for $30/h, but only beat $2/$5 for $15 an hour? It may be a bigger game with more money in play, but if you're not making as much money, why play it?

Ultimately you need to know exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are (yes, you have weaknesses).

How to Keep Records

There is really no one right way to keep your records. The only thing that matters is you keep all the information you need to get a complete perspective.

Pick your own poison:

  • Pad of paper and a pencil
  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Online stat tracking
  • iPhone stats app (such as the Hot Poker Log. Seriously, it's actually named the Hot Poker Log)

Required Information:

  • Date
  • Start time
  • End time
  • Total amount of buy-ins
  • Cash-out amount

Recommended Information:

  • Limit played
  • Location played

The more information you keep track of, the more reports you'll be able to run. Some reports are more valuable than others.

Essential Reports

  • Legacy Results (A running total of profit/loss for all results)
  • Monthly Results

You may also want to know how much you make per hour, how much you make per hour at a specific limit, your BB/hour or even what room you make the most money in.

If you click on the main picture in this article, you can see an example of an Excel spreadsheet set up to keep track of the essential information.

Depending on how savvy you are with Excel, you can have the program run reports for specific months, limits, dates ... anything you want. You can even have it automatically generate a graph from your legacy profits (see example picture below).


You can never have too much data, but you can find yourself with too little. Take note of everything.

It really doesn't take that much time to do. And with honest, accurate notes, you'll be able to stand back and take an objective look at your game.

Even though stats won't help you at the table directly, knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie will indirectly help you make more profitable choices at the Texas Hold'em tables.

Stay tuned for the final article in the 10-part series, Discussing the Game.

More on How Not to Suck at Poker:

  1. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play Fewer Hands
  2. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play in Position
  3. How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs
  4. How Not to Suck at Poker: Learn Basic Odds
  5. How Not to Suck at Poker: Pay Attention
  6. How Not to Suck at Poker: Have a Bankroll
  7. How Not to Suck at Poker: Stop Bluffing
  8. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Your Mouth Shut
  9. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Records
  10. How Not to Suck at Poker: Discuss the Game

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Stephen 2012-11-05 13:52:11

Great article. Pretty much agree with everything you said. A great tool for keeping track of your poker stats is the 'SNG Analyzer'. You should be able to find it with Google. Been using it for months now, it's fantastic.

Clint Hoffman 2009-12-18 19:57:14

Good article! I find it very useful to keep track of my winnings in an Excel spreadsheet. Im an out of pocket player like you were discussing and like you said its the only way to know if your winning. I use Excel to find my $/hr and also my ROI which is normally negative for the cash games but you cant let that scare you. You are not always going to win six or seven times what you buy in for when you sit in a cash game. What im saying is that you can have a negative ROI and still be a winning player. I keep all my stats together on one page and then use the Vlookup function at the end of the month to separate them all into different worksheets. This is something that all players that care anything about their game should do.

Kay Barrow 2009-07-30 14:45:00

Very useful now more knowledgeable

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