Preparing for the Game By Brad “Otis” Willis

Preparing for the Game By Brad “Otis” Willis

Game preparation is another topic we generally do not see covered or discussed in poker literature, yet it is an integral part of your casino package review here.


For starters, you should keep impeccable records of your play. I personally use an Excel spreadsheet like,

  • records should include the amount of hours you play.
  • the date and time of day for each session.
  • the limit and type of game you play.


Keeping accurate records gives you an objective picture of your success (or lack thereof) at each game, and at each limit. You may be surprised at what you will learn about how certain situations affect your results. You can also assess your “money management” and “when I should have quit” decisions.


If you follow a money management guideline, there may be times when you get stubborn and do not adhere to it. Keep a chart on how you did in your session after not following those guidelines. You may find that a certain aspect of your game should be adjusted.


For example, you may be shocked at how dramatically your results drop off after a certain number of hours. Having accurate information on this subject gives you a real picture of what’s happening.


These types of records should also be kept for tax purposes. This applies whether you are a winning or a losing player. Tax laws vary from country to country, as do accounting requirements. For the most part, the IRS trusts Americans to file accurately, and to keep accurate records. But they obviously do not react well to false reporting, which can lead to criminal charges. With a sport such as poker, the only times any formal records are reported to the IRS are when forms are issued if you cash in a tournament.


If you do get lucky enough to have a big win, you may be able to deduct losses to offset that win, but you will need accurate records to justify those deductions. If you are a poker professional, or only using this sport to make extra income, I would recommend hiring a CPA familiar with gambling issues.


On an unrelated topic, I have met many people in poker who have become friends. For a period, I took a break from all gaming activity and many of these people remained friends showing me that our relationships were not just out of convenience. As we developed closer bonds, I found it harder to compete against them in poker, even though we understood that our results and strategy “at the tables” would have nothing to do with our “off the felt” relationship.


Although as adults and consummate professionals we were successful at achieving this, I admit that it was hard for me. It came to where I did not want to compete against my friends in poker, especially to bluff them. I am not saying to not become friendly with your opponents, I am just pointing out that it may be hard for you to “play hard” against them if you do. And if you are not playing hard against your opponents, you are not maximizing every situation, and that will reduce your earn.


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