If you are playing poker on a large poker room, or spend most of your time playing tournaments, either MTT or sit-n-gos, you are going to come up against a large number of different players and it will be very difficult to get to know the playing tendencies of your opponents. But if you are playing the same tournament regularly or playing at the same buy-in sit-n-go, chances are you will come up against the same players more often. Obviously at the cash tables, if you are playing at the same limits every time you play, you will get to know how particular players will play their cards if you play against them often. So there will be opportunities for you to take notes on your opponents play that you can use against them in future sessions.
So, how should you go about taking notes about your fellow poker players. Thankfully, most poker rooms have some feature that will make this task easier, usually clicking on a players avatar will bring up an area in which you can make notes on their play. Some poker rooms let you assign icons or colours to players as a way of note taking. Full Tilt has a system that lets you assign a colour to a player, and that will be displayed whenever you are playing them.
Taking effective player notes is not something that can be achieved after just playing a few hands, it is best done after a couple of hours or more of observing your opponents. Keep watching the table at all times, even hands that you are not involved in as there is always something that you can learn about your opponents play. Don’t try and compile a complete dossier on every player at the table. Until you are comfortable making notes as you play, just take notes on two or three players that you think you have a read on. Of course you will be watching every player, but don’t let note taking become a distraction from your own play. With practise, taking notes on your opponents will become easier at the poker table.
The first thing of note that should become apparent to you is a players playing style, whether they are, Tight-Aggressive, Tight-Passive, Loose-Aggressive or Loose-Passive. This information alone will help you make the right decision when you are faced with an awkward situation at the table. Then there are other aspects of how your competitors play that will provide invaluable information should you play them again.
Are your opponents calling station who will happily call your raises?.
How do your opponents play draws, will they chase draws even when they are getting unfavorable odds?.
Do they over-value top pair?.
Will they make continuation bets after the flop?.
The most effective way to take notes is to do it your own way. Do whatever feels best for you. Not taking notes will mean that you could be leaving money at the table, so if you start taking basic notes on a few players, it will in time become an integral part of your poker playing, and it will mean you have an invaluable resource about your opponents.