Winning poker players keep records of play



Are you up for a wager? I’ll bet you a green chip that out of 20 random players, I can tell you which ones aren’t winners. But I get to ask each of them one question, and it won’t be, “Are you a winning player?” That would be inappropriate. Nobody asks that question. Also, the question invites a possible untruthful answer.

Instead, I would ask, “Do you keep records?” That’s an innocuous question and I’ve never had anyone decline to answer.

My point? Players who are winning players or are working hard at becoming successful players, almost invariably keep records. How else can you determine your progress? Can you imagine watching an NBA game where the score is never announced?

And of all the ridiculous answers I’ve gotten from players who try to justify why they don’t keep records, I have only heard one that was halfway reasonable. I have heard, “I don’t need to keep records; I know where I’m at.” or “I’m not going to bother with that; I don’t need to waste my time.”

The only sensible answer I’ve heard was also the most honest one. “I don’t plan to keep records because I don’t ever want to know how much I lose each year.” I like that and there’s nothing wrong with it.

It’s okay to be a recreational player. You can have fun playing poker without being a long-term winning player.

But this column is meant to help players improve their game, regardless of their skill level. This can’t be done without keeping records. If my stats suddenly start to verify that my results are beginning to fall off, I’m going to try to find out why and then do something about it.

No, I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of how you should keep track. Just make sure you are aware, day-to-day, month-to-month, of how you’re doing. Be sure to track your wins and losses by type of game, as well as overall and hourly rate. I typically play limit hold’em, NLHE, Omaha/8 and Omaha. Right now, my records indicate that my no- limit game needs work, so I’m going to have to focus more on why and figure out what to do about it.

And that’s exactly what record-keeping is supposed to do, help you to keep improving. The day you become complacent and satisfied with your results is when you will start to decline.

— Willy Neuman divides plays at Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Ill., and Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz. Email

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza