Tracking results is a fairly natural task for any kind of serious player. We of course want to have a good idea of how we're doing. Bad players don't tend to track them at all, including the bottom line, since they are content in deluding themselves that they are a better player than they are, and not paying attention too closely to this helps maintain this delusion. You'll find though that the better one is, the more closely one tracks one's results, and this isn't mere coincidence. The more you track, the more you understand yourself as a player, and the better you become.
There is a number of things we want to pay close attention to here. First of course is how well we are doing. In poker, there is a normal variance of luck, and we want to allow for that and always understand that there will be times when we play great and still lose. So we don't want to start panicking when we're playing a new level or site and things don't always go our way immediately. We want to give each situation a fair chance to succeed, given the ups and downs that the luck factor in the game brings.
At some point of course the results will start getting more and more meaningful, and it's not after a kazillion hands like some people think. The mistake these people make is taking an even situation and seeking to find how long it would take to get a statistically meaningful sample. We're not talking about even situations here though, since we will be having a meaningful advantage, and it's not going to take anywhere near as long before we should be profitable in reference to statistics. In fact, after only a few hours, we should be starting to have an idea where we are at here.
Still though, it's important that we not jump the gun as far as looking at results too quickly. There are other indications that the game may or may not be for us, particularly in reference to things such as the tightness of the game overall and the skill level of our opponents generally. In cases where the game may be too tight or difficult for our liking, in reference to easier games we could be playing at, this will become fairly apparent long before we get a big enough sample in terms of playing enough to judge our results. On the other hand, if things seem good other than we just haven't had our share of luck, we would normally want to persevere, as it is just a matter of time until the luck starts turning around in our favor, which will start to bring the results more in line with our expectations.
Of course, tracking results extends far beyond simply our earn rate. We want to look at many factors in our play. For instance, how we do with certain starting hands, and in certain positions. How we do at certain levels versus others. How we do at certain sites versus others. How we do raising with certain hands versus simply calling. How we do versus a raise from someone else with certain hands. And so on. This is where a program like Poker Tracker can come in very handy. It's not something we need to have at all times, as it's not even supported at many sites which we would seek to play, but it's a very nice educational tool to allow us to understand our game better.
To give you an example, the starting hands guide in Lesson 7 was formulated primarily on the basis of profitability using Poker Tracker. Almost always, starting hand guides are put together using more guesswork than anything. In putting together the one on our site, no guesswork was involved at all, as we took the starting hands that make a meaningful amount of money. Now, at least some of this is based upon individual styles, and the one we used was based upon a very tight style, which would make it usable for everyone. You can add more hands to this, but it's a good idea to track them with something like Poker Tracker to make sure you're on the right track in terms of their making money for you rather than losing money.
This software comes recommended by us, and we also have a link toward the bottom of our home page where you can visit their site and try out the software for free. It only allows tracking of 3000 hands, but this will at least give you an idea of whether you like it or not, and it's potential usefulness to you. If you're serious at all about poker, and I'm sure you all are, this is something that's well worth the money though. It tracks pretty much everything you can imagine, and can add meaningful to your poker education and profitability by teaching you things about your own game that you really can't discover through other means, at a very reasonable price.
We don't own this software, and it's being recommended simply as a service to our players, in order to help you become better. However, should you not choose to take advantage of it, you can still track a number of things fairly easily. If you have a spreadsheet such as Excel, it's not a lot of work to track things like starting hand profitability and such. You can even do some things just with a pen and notebook. In spite of my having all kinds of software, I always keep a notebook handy to jot things down, and this is something that we all can make good use of.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that knowledge is power, and more to our task, knowledge is money. And while we want to understand our opponents as best we can, the most important player to understand at the table is yourself. Tracking your play, at whatever degree you choose, is a very important aspect of being successful, and one that is very wise not to neglect.