For both myself and my clients, I recommend writing out a brief list of Post-Session Notes as part of our cooldown process. The intent of these notes is to help journalize any specific thoughts and/or feelings that came up during the session that was just played. The Post-Session Notes will help us to improve more quickly as well as heighten our awareness to areas of our game that may normally not get a significant amount of attention.
WHAT TO INCLUDE
From a technical game standpoint we can do a brief review of our hand histories to look for any spots that may have us wondering if we made the right play. We can then note (I use the MARK feature in HEM) the hands in question, while putting any specific thoughts that we may have about the hand in our Post-Session notes so they are available when we do our more detailed hand history review (Note: I am not a huge fan of performing detailed hand history reviews immediately following our sessions for a few reasons, the two most important of which are the fact that we are more likely to drive ourselves to a state of inefficiency through fatigue and we may be more likely to justify marginal results for hands that we just played based upon our current mindset).
We can also consider any general thoughts on our play as well as the nature of the games that we have just played in. Sometimes when we write out these thoughts we can begin to see common threads and help steer ourselves back on course if we are beginning to stray.
A personal example that I have experienced multiple times is having 2-3 sessions fairly close together in which I feel that there is very little action. This will prompt me to take a closer look at my aggression (both preflop and postflop). Usually, what I find is that my preflop game is running standard and that my postflop aggression is tailing off a bit – sometimes this is due to being card dead, sometimes it is due to being slightly fatigued (lack of sleep recently) or distracted with rl isuees, and sometimes I could allow a session in which I was card dead and got floated a ton to spill over into subsequent sessions. Once I have heightened my awareness to this issue I can delve a little deeper to determine and correct the cause. Now obviously a slight tailing off of aggression over a couple of sessions is not a huge issue, but I like to look for these types of lapses in my game for a couple of reasons. First, I am always looking for any way to add another 0.1 to my winrate and second, I want to catch weak-tight play (which is in essence tight passive tilt) before it causes me to drift into some other more damaging form of tilt (frustration being the most likely next step).
From a mental game standpoint we should have listed out any of our physical, mental, and emotional “symptoms” that we may have exhibited while we were in the session. We can still use our Post-Session notes as a spot to air out any concerns that we may have in regards to issues such as approaching tilt, tilt control, session lengths/hand volume, balance checking, performance in relationship to our PHTL, etc..
Using the information that we come up with in our Post-Session Notes, we can work on providing ourlselves with action items as the need presents itself. Sometimes we will not have any, but in line with my personal example above, I will add a line item of “Check preflop and postflop aggression for last (3) sessions” to my personal to do list. Some of these action items we will clear up right away and sometimes we will start to dig into the issue a bit further and find that it is going to take a bit longer or we need input from another source (peers or coaches). It is always okay to come back to an item later. It really is case specific.
WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE (AND HOW TO CHANGE IT TO MAKE IT “INCLUDABLE”)
With any type of journalizing I recommend that we avoid defeatist language and less than factual assessments. For example: