In Defense of Hand Histories

Posted by in Poker

I’ve noticed an anti-hand history sentiment around the blogosphere lately. It’s always been known that posts with nothing but the actual hand history straight from the poker site are the worst kind possible. Who are you in the hand? What were you thinking when you bet/called/raised? We don’t get that when you simply put up the physical hand history itself.

Lately though it seems like even those who flesh out their hand histories a bit more are feeling like they shouldn’t. Why? If you don’t know that Oddjack is all in good fun, then you need to lighten up. I for one was flattered when I was picked for a “translation”, plus that Babelfish site BG uses has come in handy more than once when a Spanish paper is due (what?) and I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. If you’re not posting them because you’ve sensed, like I have, the movement from them, then you should quit blogging. First rule of blogging is to do whatever the fuck you want. You can write about anything in the world that interests you. What sets you apart is if you’re writing well. Crap is crap, no matter the topic. Unless perhaps if you’re running a porn blog. I really tried to make a case that even there you’d need to write well, but let’s be real.

I personally enjoy hand histories. When I first discovered poker blogs, the main draw to them was hearing from these experienced players how they played a certain hand, what their thoughts were, etc. To someone just starting out, getting a glimpse inside the mind of another player is invaluable. Even to someone who’s been playing for years, there is still a benefit to seeing how someone reacted to a situation, and how that might differ from the way you would have.

Again though – they have to be done well. Speaking as someone who has over 200 feeds in her bloglines profile, and reads them all in search of the weekly gems…well, let’s just say I do a lot of skimming. In all writing, you have only a certain amount of time to really grab your reader. The introduction to a post should be clear and give the reader an idea of what’s coming up. Just like an article in a magazine, your post has readily available competition – with just one little click, a person can move on to the next. Give them a reason to stay. Don’t just slap up the hand history straight from Poker Tracker and then give an overview of the hand. Clean it up by removing the things that aren’t pertinent to the hand, and break it up with what was going through your mind as you made each action. Or tell it in your own words. Every hand is a story – tell us yours.

When I posted a few weeks back about how I didn’t use this blog to its full extent, it was things like hand histories that I had in mind. If I play a few hands, or oh say lose 50BB in the course of 17 hands, I’m going to want some feedback. The mere act of putting a hand history post together is often enough to point out your mistakes. Yesterday I intended to post three hands from the above mentioned bloodletting, but decided it wasn’t needed after my mistakes became obvious as I typed out my reasoning for my actions. I still sent the post off to an expert for confirmation though. I really only need to hear my stupidity confirmed by one person, not 100. 😉

In the poker blogging realm, we have players who have just started out, players who’ve been playing for a year or so and have a solid footing but still need work, players who’ve put in years at the tables and have wisdom to share, and players who are light years ahead in terms of thinking about the game. We need to see the analysis that comes from all of them. Sadly, only one of bloggers from the latter group regularly posts hands played and explains the thought and reasoning behind them. If one of the best things about having a group of poker buddies is the ability to sit around and analyze hands, why don’t more of us do it on our sites? We’re missing out on a great resource.

Besides, without them BG looses a valuable source of material. 😉