Why Have a Poker Journal?
Poker is a long-term game. It’s really not that pg from investing, except you can’t have someone else do it for you. You have to make the money yourself. But you wouldn’t invest without having a plan, keeping records, tracking results, analyzing new opportunities, and exploring new options. Right? The same is true of poker. Bad players (fish) never record anything. They never track anything. They don’t make decisions today based on historic realities. They don’t know the difference between playing the site they are on (or the table) and the other sites in the poker world. They just sit down, blind in, and start playing. Fish don’t play poker for the long-term. They play for the Right Now! This hand! This moment! This session! If they win they are thrilled. If they lose they are depressed. They are… in a word… VICTIMS!
You strive to be more than that, obviously. However, many players who strive to be more miss out on the Most Powerful Tool poker has to offer – HISTORICAL REALITY. Historical reality is what HAPPENED. How it happened. Why it happened. Because, guess what… It’ll happen again!
If you don’t keep records then you can’t learn as quickly as you should from your mistakes. Maybe you won’t learn from them at all. Maybe you’ll learn for a while and then forget about it again. Your poker journal is how you tap the most powerful poker tool that exists.
If you don’t keep records then you miss out on the Most Powerful Tool poker has to offer – YOUR BRAINPOWER. Your brainpower is what is going to take you into the future. It’s what’s going to set the path for your future success or failure. Because… As a man thinketh… so is he! The Bible: Proverbs
You spend hours staring at a computer screen, playing hands, making reads, learning lessons (good and bad). You read articles and books, talk to other poker players, and observe others who are more skilled than you. Where does all this information go? It can’t just go in your head. Your head is a horrible record keeper. It’s manipulated by emotions, it has tons of non-poker work to do, and it tends to fail you at the worst times in poker. So, instead of relying on your head, rely on your poker journal. A poker journal never forgets. You should review it often. And the fact that you have recorded things, will prompt you to expand them and think about them more.
The how’s and why’s of keeping a poker journal.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that a poker journal will really add value and results to your poker game. In essence the HOW is simple. Just start doing it! But, here are some things I’ve done for years with my poker journal. Hopefully you can use some of them.
While you can keep a poker journal electronically on your computer, I don’t recommend it. And while any old spiral notebook will do, I would encourage you to get something more substantial. Your next time out, take a shopping trip for a journal. About electronic journals, think of it this way; how many computer files can you find from 3 years ago? Not many. How many pictures do you have from your childhood? Probably quite a few. Physical things are permanent, electronic files are easily lost, forgotten or damaged. So go for the physical thing.
I use a refillable leather journal cover I bought at Barnes and Noble. Here’s why. Leather is good! It gives your thoughts importance and heft. Leather is permanent and comforting. When you write in this journal it draws you to become better. It’s also refillable and it has a place to keep a couple pens. All of this is important for me because I need my journal to be ready to go and hold up to my lifestyle. I go through about 1 refill every 9 months or so and I obviously keep the old journals for reference. I carry my journal with me almost all the time, and I make notes in it often.
So, what do you write in your journal?
Write down whatever comes to mind. I use my journal for personal notes and goals as well as poker goals – to me they are one in the same; because, poker makes many aspects of my life possible and my life affects my poker. I start every journal with my life goals and concepts that help me succeed at whatever I’m doing. That way I know exactly where to go to get my mind right if I start to waver.
After that I just write whatever I think is important as it comes to mind. These include things like:
- Starting Hand Charts
- Poker Session, SnG, and MTT notes
- Poker ideas I read in books, magazines and online
- Summaries of what I think helps me accomplish my poker and life goals
- Personal Improvement concepts and notes
- Repetitive Sentences – This one is important.
Poker has a great ability to tie us up in knots when we have bad sessions or make mistakes. The best way to work out the negative energy that gets built up in times like this is to write a sentence 50-100 times. That helps me work out the negative emotions and refocus my efforts. Randomly opening my journal I see a couple pages of “I will follow my rules 100% when I play.” That’s from a few sessions of breaking my own good advice and playing like a fool.
So those are some ideas of what you could keep. I have notes about what poker articles I need to write, time management actions, and even questions I use to approach life in a positive way. It’s all good!! Because the act of writing focuses the mind, it makes permanent many things that you would lose if you tried to remember them in your head; it clarifies; and it gives you something to look back on and see your achievements.
If you’re interested in seeing inside my journal, here’s a sample. Many of these things don’t seem poker related, but they set the foundations for my poker success.