In the early 1990s the Internet started coming into libraries, schools and homes and it completely changed how we do almost everything in our day-to-day lives. Decades earlier, casinos had figured out that if they made players buy special chips to gamble with instead of having the actual cash in front of them that this detached players from the worth of their money and caused them to gamble more often and higher monetary amounts than they ever would normally. When you combine the two, you end up with Internet poker, the best of both worlds where a month’s salary is only a virtual number on a computer screen. The idea of this extreme level of detachment causes many people to ignore keeping good records, and so they have a distorted idea of how much they’ve won or lost. With this theme in mind, we’re going to explore three major areas where keeping good records with Internet poker will allow you to have increased profits, the ultimate goal of the game in the first place.
As stated earlier, most people who play online poker have delusions about how much they’ve won or lost. Even if you keep up with a simple spreadsheet, it’s very easy to “forget” to write in certain losing sessions or tournament entry fees that you shouldn’t have been playing to begin with. The best solution to this part of the problem is to purchase a tracking program like Poker Tracker 3 or Hold’em Manager. These programs track your play hand-by-hand and also provide you many statistics that will allow you to study and improve your play by finding leaks where you’re losing money. They both function similarly and are priced similarly, and both have a free trial where you can decide which you like best.
An aspect of keeping good records that most non-professionals often overlook is the tax implications your gambling winnings (or losses) have on your tax return. In the United States, gambling winnings are taxed just like any other income, and gambling losses can be deducted from gambling winnings up to a certain amount. If you don’t have good records and you happen to be audited, you could face big fines and back taxes on whatever income you didn’t report correctly. Even if you did your taxes like you were supposed to, without proper records, you’re still left vulnerable to the IRS not allowing you to deduct your gambling loss deductions because from their point of view you can’t prove that you lost the money.
The final point I’m going to make about keeping good records is that they’ll allow you to know if you’re sufficiently beating a certain level of play and will help you decide if you should to move up to the next level. A good player who studies frequently should be moving up multiple times a year if they wish, and moving up leads to bigger stakes and bigger profits. Without good records, however, you can never know if you really have a shot at beating that level.