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Bill Burton is an advantage blackjack player and skilled poker player. He is the author of the best-selling book, "Get the Edge at Texas Low Limit Hold’em", available at 10% discount from the BJI online store, and the guide at


One of the most informative reference books you will read about poker will be written by you. It is your logbook where you will record the results of all of your poker sessions. If you are serious about your game it is imperative that you keep a log. The only way you will be able to tell if you are a winning player is by keeping a record of your play.

Many players don't feel that it is necessary to keep records. If you ask these same players if the are winners they will usually answer in the affirmative. The truth is that without records, there is no way to be certain. Most players have selective memories. They tend to remember the big wins and will tell you that they occasionally lose "a little." It is possible that these little loses when added together will offset the winning sessions that they remember. The only way to be sure if you are truly a winner is through honest and meticulous record keeping.

Keeping records is a matter of being truthful with yourself. Your log is your own personal record. If you fudge it or put in false figures you are defeating the purpose of keeping the log. Since you won’t be showing it to other people there is no reason to lie about your results. If you aspire to be a winning player you need to know if your game has leaks so you can plug them and get back on a winning course.

You log does not have to be fancy. If you have a computer you can use a spreadsheet program to keep track of you sessions. There are poker diaries you can purchase made specifically for players, which also contains some poker data and out charts. No matter what method you use there is some information that should be put in all logs. Here is a sample of my log I use.

Party Poker

Initial Deposit

















Buy in






90 min













































Record the date and the card room where you played. If you play online and are keeping the log in Excel or some other spreadsheet program, you should have a separate page for each online poker room. I also list my initial deposit I put in on every site along with any withdrawals or deposits I make. This way you have an accurate record.

I keep a separate page for any brick and mortar casinos I play in. This way I know if there are any card rooms where I have better results than others. You may find as I have that you have better results in one over another. This could have to do with travel time or just the fact that you are more comfortable playing in certain locations. It could also be that the competition is easier in one place than another.


Record the date that you played.


You may have several limits that you play. You might find that you are more confident at the lowest level or you may do better against players at the higher limits. This will be one of the factors you evaluate when you look at your results.


Time Played

You want to record the length of time that you play. This is one of the equations used in figuring your hourly win rate. It will also be important in evaluating your level of stamina and concentration. You may find that you get better results with shorter sessions than you do in marathon games. Since I jump in and out of online games I find that it is easier to record the time in minutes rather than hours.

Money Won or Lost

Record the money you won or lost for each session. This is easy to do. You know how much money you bought in for and you write down the difference at the end of the session.


I put the total of my account in the middle of the page. It is my way of separating the Ring Games from the Tournaments. I also have a running total of my money in any online site. If I am playing in a live card room I know how much money I have won or lost in that room along with the money in my live bankroll that I keep separate just for playing poker.


If you play tournaments you want to keep track of these as well. For my online play I list them on the same page.

Buy In

I record the buy in for the tournament.


I abbreviate the type of tournament. I play a lot of Sit & Go tournaments as well as limit and no limit tournaments so in my log I will note: S&G, Limit or NL for the type. I put the position I finished and the money I won. You may find you play better in a limit rather than no limit tournament or you might have better results in Sit and Go rather than multi table tournaments.


I record what place I finished as well ad the number of players that started the tournament.


In this column I record the money that I win for the tournament minus my buy-in. I add this figure in the Total column. If I do not place in the money I simply subtract the price of the tournament from my total. (See 1/23/06 in sample log.

Study Your Log

It is only normal that you will have winning and losing session. This is a normal fluctuation that is measured by the standard deviation. The average wins for a good player is about one big bet per hour. In a $5/10 game you can figure about $10 per hour as the estimate value or EV that you expect to earn. Some session you make more than $10 and some you make less. The difference between the actual amount won or lost and the $10 is the standard deviation. If you have large wins and then large losses your deviation will be high. You will need a big bankroll to handle the big swings. Your goal should be to cut down on the gap and bring your variance down to a small amount. To get your hourly win for ring games you need to add up your total winnings and divide by the number of hours you played. Studying your tournament results will give you a good idea of the best types of tournaments to enter.

Play Seriously

Every serious poker player I know keeps an accurate log. The sample above is the one I use and it works for me. If you don’t keep a log now this example may be a good place to start. You might want to add other columns or move it around to suit your needs or the games you play. I doesn’t matter what your log looks like as long as you keep one.

Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

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