Q&A: How to Organize Poker Notes and the Fear of Being Bluffed
I answer two listener questions about keeping your poker study notes extremely organized and getting beyond your fear of being bluffed.
Listen to the podcast as you follow along below:
Q1 From Mike: Organized Poker Notes
Thanks for the video (below) and I take notes when I review material as well. I usually use index cards (so I can review when I have some downtime) and type the content into OneNote. I really like what you were doing with Word and I think I'm going to try it your way.
One of the things I've been trying to do is to break poker down into pieces. Three betting, check raising, HUD stats, hand reading etc. If I wanted to review the concept I could just pull up the section and read a couple of pages to get myself back on track. My problem is trying to figure out all of the pieces that make up the poker puzzle and logically formatting them. Any ideas?
Let's look at a NLHE cash game player's notes. Divide your notes first by street, so the first Heading 1 within your poker journal Word document would be Pre-flop. The next Heading 1 would be Flop, then Turn then River. Here's the video Mike watched:
Next, subdivide each of these into parts that go in a logical order for you and make them all Heading 2.
(Heading 1) Pre-flop
(Heading 2) under this, and in order of importance could be: Opening Ranges, Calling Ranges, 3betting Ranges, 3bet Calling Ranges, 4betting Ranges, Bet Sizing, Pre-flop Math, Opponent Types (LAG, TAG, LP, TP), Specific Plays (like limp/raise or limp/call or steals), etc. Another organizing idea is put it in order of the plays you prefer to make. For example; Open-raise, Iso-raise, 3bet, 4bet, Call 2bet, Call 3bet, etc.
(Heading 1) Flop
(Heading 2) under this and in order of importance could be: Value Cbets, Bluff Cbets, Post-flop Math (outs and odds), Check-raises, Donk Bets, Cbet Raises, etc.
As you learn more from different sources, put your notes in the appropriate area so you can recall them quickly.
Keep the same terms or notations so you can run quick searches. Don't spell “check-raise” in different ways through your notes. I don't want to see:
- check raise
Choose one and go with it for all of your notes to make searching (Ctrl+F) for terms quick and easy.
Organized and thorough notes could be turned into a book one day.
I use a separate document for the different things I study like books or webinars or training courses.
Q2 From Chris: Fear of Being Bluffed
My current biggest leak is that I call/shove in my stack with the worst hand quite often. I think I might be a fish. ☹️ Not sure how common this is, but my red line is usually positive, and my blue line is very, very negative, at least over the 15k or so hands I've played in the last 10 days. I just don't have a good “I should get out of this pot” feeling yet, I suppose, and it's the main thing that's making me a losing player, I believe. It's pretty silly, because I have a huge note to myself that says “WHEN IN DOUBT, FOLD” and I know that this is my biggest issue, but for some reason, I call their shove more often than not.
Your problem of giving too much value is very common. Lots of players have a fear of getting bluffed. I think that's probably your real issue (it’s still a big issue for me as well). That note of “When in doubt, fold” doesn't actually cover the real issue. In the heat of the moment, you probably aren't really in doubt. You probably think your hand is the best. You may also be thinking about all the possible hands your opponent could be bluffing you with. It also sounds like you bluff a lot as well if you're getting it in with the worst hand quite often.
4 Fixes for Fear of Being Bluffed
- Run a filter in PT4 for times when you called a raise on the flop and saw showdown. You'll probably find a huge negative win rate here. I've seen as high as -750BB/100 hands. These are most often when you should fold because raises are mostly for value. Sure, sometimes you raise the flop as a bluff, but most often it's for value. Your opponents are playing the same way. You can also run this for calling turn raises and river raises as well and see what those win rates are.
- Look at all of your biggest losing hands that went to showdown. Often in these big losing pots, your opponents show they're interested in the hand three times or more. When somebody opens the pot pre-flop then calls, that's twice they've put money in. If they call your cbet, that's a third instance of them liking their hand. Alarm bells should be ringing. When they donk lead the turn, that's #4 and should be a huge sign that they like their hand. As you review the big losing hands with multiple actions on different streets, count the times they show interest. I bet at 3 or 4 you should've picked up on the fact that your TP or underpair or even 2p was beat at that point.
- Change that note from “When in doubt, fold” to read, “When they show interest 3 times, assign a likely hand strength before clicking the button.” You should always be thinking about your opp’s range, but it’s very important when they’re fighting for the pot. If their range beats your hand you should consider folding. You can stay in to bluff, though, if you think there will be a bluffing opportunity at some point. And taking good notes on your opp’s will help with. If you see somebody bluffing, make a note of how they bluffed.
- “Capable of bluffing the turn OOP when checked to”
- “Cap of c/r bluff”
- “Pulled a triple-barrel bluff on an A high flop IP”
- “SB bluff 3bettor”.
- Also, run a filter for top pair showdown hands. I have a student who is at -283bb/100 hands with this filter. Take a look at the biggest winning and losing hands. Some of the biggest losers will be where you called down but should've realized sooner that you're beat. Lots of the winning hands will be where your opponent missed their draw but you saw showdown anyway. Realize that TP isn't often that good of a hand, especially if there's lots of action. That's another note you could make: “TP ain't good vs 4x interest”.
Now, run that filter with showdown and 2p instead of just TP. There should be a huge difference in your win rate here as 2p is so much stronger. 2p can withstand so much more aggression than TP can. One of the goals with these two filters is to train your mind to not think that TP is such a strong hand. If you treat it like the semi-weak hand it is, it’ll be easier to fold in the future.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:
Run these two filters: 1) Top Pair Hands with showdown and 2) 2 Pair Hands with Showdown. Compare the win rates and dive in and review the biggest losing hands that result from these filters. Find your mistakes and take note of them in your poker journal. Then of course, work to NOT repeat them in the future.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
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