You may have heard experienced players say that you should focus on making the right decisions, not on the results. This is very true in the short term. Anything can happen in a game of poker.
In the long term, it’s important to keep track of your poker results. Doing so will give you an honest measure of how much you are winning and spending. Tracking your results also gives you an indication of how much you are improving over time.
Why is it important to track your poker progress
Businesses spend enormous amounts of time and money recording and analyzing cashflow so that they can understand their bottom line. For professional poker players who treat poker like a business, buy-ins and winnings are equivalent to outgoings and revenue. If a pro wants to know their average hourly rate or monthly earnings, they need to keep track of their progress.
As an aspiring or recreational player, you may not feel the same sense of urgency. That’s understandable. If you keep your bankroll separate to your bill payments (which you should), then why keep track of your poker results at all?
The main benefit for newer players is to ensure you are playing within your own limits. As you advance, you’ll want to see how your winnings stack up against your buy-ins, and how your winnings translate into cash.
There’s also another element to tracking your poker progress. With the right data, you’ll start to see patterns in your game. You’ll be able to work out not only profit or loss, but also hourly rates, what games you do well in (and not so well in), what days of the week you turn the biggest profit, and many specific trends. The possibilities are as limitless as the data that you collect.
Benefits of tracking your poker progress
- See how much you are spending, winning or losing
- See the long term impact on your results as you improve strategy
- See how moving up or down in stakes impacts your bottom line
- Notice trends in results according to time, day or type of game
- Apply advice, such as from a book or new training site, and see if your results improve over time
- Learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses
Finding your results online
The next question then, is how can you keep track of your poker progress?
Let’s start out with the easiest method. You can track your poker results using online sites such as SharkScope or PokerProLabs.
To make your poker results available online, you’ll need to opt in. To use PokerProLabs, send $0.03 to “ResultsSites” on PokerStars. The $0.03 will be refunded and then your results will be made public.
PocketFives is another site that is widely embraced by the poker community. Again you have to sign up. Once you do, you’ll be able to see your results across the major poker sites, as well as using various other features, such as the site’s rankings and leaderboards.
Keep in mind that any information you make available online can also be found by savvy opponents. They can’t work out your playing style this way, but they can see your experience and results. It’s a double edged sword. Some players choose to share their results, others remain hidden. It’s your choice.
If you don’t want to opt-in for your results to be shown online, you can get access to your data by requesting a playing history audit directly from PokerStars. This will show the history of your buy-ins and results over a set period of time. However, this won’t function well as a way to constantly track results.
It might sound almost primitive, like a relic from the dawn of personal computers, but an excel spreadsheet is a very reliable and dynamic way to track your poker progress. You’ve just got to deal with a little manual data entry.
If you want to start out basic, set up an excel to record buy-ins (including rebuys), as well as profit and loss from each individual tourney or cash game table (including bounties). Make totals at the end of each session, and for the end of the week or month. You can track both live and online poker results this way.
You can up the amount of data that you record to enhance the benefits of recording your poker results. You could start a column for the amount of time you have played so that you can eventually calculate an average hourly rate. Other useful columns to include are type of game, stake, field size, prize pool, and your placement in tourney.
You can see the potential here.
Over time, you’ll be able to track not only your poker progress, but also where, when and possibly why you win or lose games. The possibilities are as limitless as the data you decide to record.
Here’s a basic example:
|DATE||HOURS||GAME||FIELD SIZE||PRIZE POOL||BUY-IN||CASHOUT||NET RESULT||PLACEMENT|
Poker tracking software
Manual data entry is not for everyone. You can get software that will track your poker progress automatically by using your hand history. The software will then present a range of statistics, often in visual formats such as graphs and charts.
There are a couple of notable drawbacks to to this approach. The most obvious is the cost. You can find free poker tracking software, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re going to use software, make sure it’s a reputable brand. This means paying a subscription fee or one-off payment.
Not all sites allow tracking software. Check that the software is compatible with the poker sites that you use. PokerStars has guidelines on the software that it allows.
Despite these drawbacks, tracking software will give you a very comprehensive data set. You can even see details such as the individual hands that you often lose with, or whether you are losing money from a certain position. Analyzing this data will allow you to identify leaks in your game and make quick improvements.
(Note: Article written with no affiliation to any products or sites mentioned)