What metrics do you use to evaluate your own live play performance?

For example, would you record big blinds won per hour at a cash game? Or do you rather try to understand if you are playing well based on reflecting on the hands won and lost?

Do you attempt to track wins/losses for certain types of pockets?

  • Perhaps the question is; what are you trying to learn from the analysis?
    – AlG
    May 3, 2012 at 15:06
  • I guess I want to understand if a) there is a systemic weakness in my play b) if I change my approach in some aspect it results in more wins overall
    – WW.
    May 3, 2012 at 22:53

4 Answers 4


Common metrics from live play, like win-rates, may not be as valuable in the short run as people imagine. That said, players should definitely attempt to keep records with a long term perspective in mind.

Here's the problem. Making valuable adjustments to your game based on metrics from live play are difficult because of two main issues:

  1. It's mostly because of the volume of hands you play, which is far fewer than online. I'd estimate live will equal around 1/3rd of the volume you could play online per table. (~30-50 hands per table hour live; ~70-80 hands per table hour online). Multi-tabling FTW! I understand that some people (unfortunately) don't have a choice. Check this question and answer to get an idea of what I mean.

  2. The accuracy of the information you keep. The "statistics" like VPIP, PFR, Aggression stats, etc. are all important but estimates at best if you're not methodically keeping records. The three I mentioned, I'd suggest, are the most valuable anyway. After all, what we're trying to do is read hands with precision, and these help to narrow your understanding of an opponents range.

@Jeffrey Blake touches on a valid point in his post. Your decision process is king and although you might not be able to influence your live-play volume that much, you can always adjust your decisions. Assuming you haven't read it, and you want to form your own blueprint for evaluating your live performance, take a look at Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed. Here's a decent review link from Pokernews. It's MTT's, not cash games but it's still a good treatise on a top player's analysis and decision making process throughout a whole live-play experience. I've no doubt you'll get some ideas on how to improve your game and how to record it.


I have a friend who did something interesting: he invited people over at his house to play poker and he filmed himself while playing. He later analyzed the video to determine where his weak spots are and how he can improve his play. He said he was able to do this by writing on a piece of paper the exact time when significant hands happened. This way, he can match the hand(s) with the corresponding video segment(s).

I think it's an interesting way to improve your game and, if you're rigurous about the following analysis, it can work very well.

  • This is very interesting, thanks for the idea. May 6, 2012 at 20:29

To me, it's not about metrics. It's about checking and rechecking my decision process.

I keep a notebook with me and after any meaningful hands, I will jot down notes about it. I include relevant stack sizes, reads, position, cards, and the action from all relevant players on all streets.

Then I go back and analyze these notes at a later date to see if there were spots where I didn't like my play.


Mr. Blake (above) mentions a very interesting strategy. If you play online poker, you can record the screen during your play. You can then review the footage at a later time and see where potential weak points are. This will obviously not be 100% objective, depending on your own internal biases. But you are much more likely to catch things that you would not have only relying on memory. At the very least, you can get an idea of patterns of hands you prefer to play vs position on table vs available chipstack, etc.

If you use bsr screen recorder (bsrsoft.com) or even snagit 11 (techsmith.com/snagit.html) now comes with screen recording, you can save files in avi format and probably get 1 hour of video with for under 100 MB at full screen; less if you use smaller screen recording region size. CamStudio is free if you are on a budget. I do something very similar when evaluating my forex strategies (AwarenessForex.com), but there are a few notable differences. My forex strategy is entirely automated, so I can focus purely on improving the mechanics of the strategy. When filming poker games, you must be mindful of your real-time emotions. Make sure you are recording sound and don't be afraid to express your true emotions. It will help 'mark' which hands to focus on. Another good thing about video recording is you can skip through video with fast playback. VLC player (VideoLan.org) you can set the speed of playback, or just drag the timeline to skip through hands.

I should also mention that poker odds calculators, such as Poker Tracker that can also record your hands for deeper analysis, including calculated odds for your hand at each stage from preflop to river.

  • Your points are useful, but the question specifically relates to "Live" poker so any discussion of online tracking isn't necessary.
    – Toby Booth
    Jun 17, 2012 at 14:44

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