Player Notes are a very important tool in the arsenal of an online poker player.
In a live game at a casino or card room, you are in an environment where you can easily pick up on visual and audible cues from your opponents at the table. In an online game however, these cues are obviously not available as you aren’t able to see or hear your opponents.
While this does put the online player at a bit of a disadvantage, this disadvantage can be greatly mitigated by taking advantage of Player Notes.
So what are Player Notes?
Player Notes are features that literally every online poker site has built into their software. They allow you to take notes on every player you encounter and are saved so that if you happen to run into this player again you will already have your own collection of info on them to take advantage of.
Taking effective notes is key to making the information useful. While there is no set way to do it, there are some things you can incorporate into your own note taking that will help you make the best decisions from your available information.
The first bit of information you are likely going to want to identify is whether a player is loose or tight. This information is one of the most important, and also typically one of the easiest to determine with minimal observation. Knowing whether a player is tight or loose will help you in putting them on ranges of hands so that you can make the correct play.
To determine whether a player is loose or tight, simply take notes on what they are going to showdown with. Most sites have hand histories which will show you what each player was holding at showdown. Always take note of this, and after a few orbits you should have a pretty good idea of which type of player they are.
(For the record, a tight player is one who plays about 20% or less of their starting hands, meaning they typically only play hands like AA, KK, AK, KQ, JTs, 55, etc. A loose player is one who plays a much wider range of hands, and is involved in more pots.)
The second bit of information you will want to identify is whether a player is passive or aggressive. An aggressive player will bet and raise more than they call, whereas a passive player calls a lot more than they bet or raise. This category has nothing to do with how loose or tight the player is, as both loose and tight players can be passive or aggressive.
To determine how passive or aggressive a player is, simply pay close attention to their betting patterns throughout a hand all the way to showdown. For example, if a player bet all the way through to showdown with a busted open-ended straight draw then you know he is quite aggressive. On the flip side, if a player checks and calls all the way through with pocket aces, then they are passive.
Of course, it’s not always so cut and dry as many players will often be very aggressive in some situations, but passive in others. For example, some players might bet their made hands with great frequency, but never bet their strong draws. Pay attention to these types of betting patterns when making your Player Notes to figure out their aggression level.
Other Tips for Player Notes
Use Acronyms and Abbreviations – One of the things I do to help take quick notes is using acronyms and/or abbreviations. This will help you to quickly create and read through player notes. It’s also useful on poker sites that have a limitation for how much information you can put in the Player Notes window. Feel free to use my examples or create your own acronyms.
- TAG = Tight Aggressive
- LAG = Loose Aggressive
- TP = Tight Passive
- LP = Loose Passive
- PP = Pocket Pair
- PR = Hands opponent preflop raises with
- P = Hands opponent plays, or limps with
- CC = Hands opponent cold calls with
- RR = Hands opponent re-raises with
- CR = Hands opponent check-raises with
- OESD = Open Ended Straight Draw
- EP = Early Position
- B = Button
Position – Knowing how your opponents play in different positions (early, middle, late, button, blinds, etc.) can help you a great deal. Does your opponent limp KQ from early position? Do they raise JTs on the button? Do they raise premium hands from the blinds?
Draws – Definitely take note of how an opponent plays their draws (ie. OESD, Flush, gutshot straight, etc.). Do they bet or raise them on the flop? How about the turn? Will they bluff the river on a missed draw?
Preflop Raise – Know what kinds of hands your opponents raise and reraise with preflop. Do they always continuation bet regardless of what comes down? Will they bet AK to the river on a dry board? Do they only re-raise with AA, KK, QQ?
There are of course many other things you can take note of in your Player Notes, but this should give you a good idea of how to start. By all means use your own method of taking notes if you desire as there is no “right” way to do it – just make sure that you DO take Player Notes and you WILL be successful!