It’s more difficult now than any time prior to be a consist poker winner. It’s also easier than ever to improve your game by consuming premium and free content online. You can filter the information from any source, including a poker coach, pro poker player, or a general how-to guide.
Poker coaching might be a good option if you want to achieve great results this year.
In recent years, poker coaching has become a popular option for players who are less experienced and need help in finding their way in the game. But, should you consider hiring a coach?
My opinion is that hiring a coach for your poker game is the best thing you can do. This is only if you hire the right coach.
YOUR game is the focus of piece of training, which makes coaching an effective way to improve your game. Books and blogs can only offer general advice.
They can also provide an outside perspective that can be helpful when dealing with the challenges of the game.
Let’s take a look how to improve your poker game coaching.
Locating a Live Coach
You might be surprised to find out that some of the most prominent names in the game offer coaching services.
Live poker coaching rates can vary greatly. Prices for a live poker coach can range from $100 an hour to sometimes $10k for a few one-on-1 sessions. You can get an idea of the variety of services and prices available by simply typing “live poker coach” in Google or visiting the coaching forums at Two Plus Two.
This type of coaching is not cheap, but it’s worth it if you are looking for a one-on-one, personalized education in poker.
There are many ways to learn from live coaches. Many coaches will look at your online game history and go through your hands to help you improve your game. You might meet with a coach who specializes in live poker in Las Vegas. They will sit and play a few games with you at the tables and then evaluate your game.
Live coaching can be tailored to your needs depending on your goals.
Joining a Stable
Being accepted into a poker stable will give you the financial backing you need to play at higher stakes.
Many poker stables offer coaching from top-level players, as well as big money for their backers. This is done in an effort give their players the best possible chance of winning.
A stable is a great way to learn poker. You will often have the opportunity learn from the other players in the stable as well as the backers. You will also get coaching from the backers, who bring in world-class players to help educate the horses.
The stable is being supported by large financial investors. You can be sure that they will take their investment seriously and provide all the training necessary to keep the players on the top of their game. This perspective could allow you to access high-stakes poker training from pros who are either financially backing or being paid by your backers to coach you.
This is one way to learn poker and it is the best way to get into high-stakes poker. However, there are some drawbacks to this path.
Join a Poker Training Site
Joining a poker training website is the best and most cost-effective way to learn. You can access the strategies and tactics used by top players by simply reading our content.
Coaching is not cheap
Although hiring a poker coach can be the best way to improve your game, it is also the most costly. Most poker coaches charge $50 per hour, and some charge much more.
A poker book, on the other hand, typically costs between $20 and $40. A monthly subscription to a video-training site is often about the same price.
This is an example of it. This is a great option if you are looking for advanced poker training without the high cost of hiring a coach.
You could also get something similar to the Daniel Negreanu MastersClass at a comparable price. It is also much cheaper than hiring coaches.
A coach may be too expensive for a typical NL10 player. Their entire bankroll may only be $200, so the cheapest coach for poker will likely cost them 1/4 of that amount for a single session.
As I said, coaching is by far the best way to improve your skills. I wouldn’t discourage anyone at these levels from hiring a coach if you’re looking to improve quickly and don’t have any financial constraints.
Coaching is expensive for a reason
However, I want to clarify one thing.
Many people believe that many of these coaches who charge $100+ an hour are scam artists or shady regs who can’t win anymore. This is ignorant at many levels.
Let’s first discuss why poker coaching is so costly compared to books and training websites.
I can tell ya that for every hour I was paid, I would spend 2 hours with a student when I was a coach.
This includes the initial emailing back-and-forth, setting up coaching sessions times, and dealing with any technical issues on the Skype call. I would then often go into the coaching session itself, sometimes going into over-time.
But, don’t worry!
I would then create a pdf report using the notes I had taken during the session, and email it to the student. I would often get emails from them with additional questions.
In some cases, I offered to coach them in the future if they weren’t satisfied with their results. This was so we could continue to drill the points we had already discussed.
This is how real coaches do it and what poker coaching is all about.
While not all coaches can deliver this level of service, most will do everything they can to help students succeed. The coach has every incentive to do this because happy students mean more students and better feedback.
The bottom line is that a poker coach who charges $100-$150 an hour is rarely charging this amount. My actual hourly rate was much lower than $100 for all of my time as a coach in poker.
2. Expert Advice
You are also paying for expert advice when you hire a coach. Experts in any field charge a lot for their time, and this is true even in poker.
People complain about poker coaches charging hundreds or even thousands to teach them poker skills. But, top business consultants charge ten times that amount.
Expert advice is expensive. The coach’s skill level (and thus the potential payoff) is usually higher than the price they charge.
Often times, coaches have a hard time beating the games themselves!
One argument that some poker coaches dislike is that they make it sound like they are all sloppy regs who can’t win the games anymore. While this might be true in some cases, it doesn’t seem to be the case in most.
My friends and I know many coaches who continue to work at the tables as their main source income. But burnout can set in as was the case for me.
It’s nice to be able to help others with the knowledge you have gained over all those years, while also making some money. They can still win at poker.
Most coaches can be described as competent small winners to big-time slayers and are better than most other players out there.
Here’s something else that is true:
To teach it, you don’t have to be the best at (insert any other skill here). It is enough for someone else to find value in it.
Although it may seem surprising, many of the top poker coaches are not the top players. Many of the top players don’t make great coaches. I’ll get into this more in a moment.
How to Evaluate a Potential Poker Coach
What should you look for in a poker coach? Surprised?
Some people will claim that the coach must have a great winning (and current) record of success at the table.
This argument quickly falters because if someone was a massive crusher with an hourly, then why would they waste their time coaching for such a small amount?
Another camp believes that communication is the most important skill. The coach must be able identify the issues that are holding your back and present them to you clearly.
They must also be able ask the right questions during the session to bring out those “aha” moments where you suddenly see it.
I believe that the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.
Clearly a coach should be a winner of time, but, do they have to be the biggest crusher in the world and the elite of elite? No, of course not. This is absurd.
These people are often the worst communicators, as so much of their behavior is automatic and they don’t even consider why.
This is something I am very aware of. It was a long time ago that I learned what worked and what didn’t at the micros. Now it is all obvious to me. Two things I learned quickly were:
- My students may not always see it this way
- Because this was what I was being paid for, I had to find a way of explaining it to them.
This applies to listening. A coach should not preach to you for an hour. Coaching is a two-way process of communication. Coaches should give clear advice about the best course of action.
They must also know when to ask students the right questions to help them understand their thinking process and bring out the best in them.
The bottom line is:
You should look for a coach who has proven success in the game. This is a positive win rate that exceeds a large sample (at least two hundred thousand hands) or higher.
They should also be able to communicate well. It doesn’t matter how skilled a coach is in technical coaching, if they are unable to explain why a play is better than another using simple language you can understand, then it is not worth their time.
Most coaches will allow you to chat on Skype with them for a few minutes free of charge before you start any coaching arrangement. During this chat, you can get a sense of their personality as well as their ability to communicate.
Be sure to also review some of their past training material, blogs, videos, forum posts, etc.
I don’t want to talk about the different ways you can conduct a coaching session. Everyone learns differently. Your coach should help you decide which way is best for your learning style.
1. The Live Sweat
The live sweat session usually involves the student playing at a few tables and having a conversation with the coach. This is done by Skype audio call and screen sharing.
This is the traditional style of online poker coaching.
This coaching style allows for the coach and student to talk about a lot of the common issues. There might not be many interesting topics and the discussion lacks a focus.
2. The Database Review
This requires looking at their stats from PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager.
I would then discuss position data with them and look out for potential problems. If I see that they are losing more from the small blind, then we might make that the main focus of the session.
We would sort hands by posiition, and then analyze each one to identify leaks.
This coaching style has a pro and con. While it can find weaknesses, it is time-intensive and can take many sessions to address each weakness.
3. The Video Review
The student would record themselves using Loom or Camtasia or something similar and then sharing that recording with me.
I would then record my thoughts and view the video over Loom (or a tool such as Camtasia). I would then send it back.
This coaching style eliminates the need to meet at a specific time. This is why I switched to video review in the last year that I coached.
This coaching style has one drawback: there is no interaction between the student or the coach. As I mentioned above, this takes away a large part of the learning process.
4. The Best Option? A Mix of All of Them
I believe that a combination of database reviews, video reviews, and live sweat sessions is the best way to go, but it’s ultimately your choice.
You are the one who is responsible. As I mentioned, you are the one paying.
A poker coach can make a huge difference in your game. Many coaches will be able find the issues you are having and help you solve them.
Poker coaching is expensive. If you don’t have the budget to invest several hundred dollars in coaching, I recommend that you purchase a $50 training site subscription.
All that being said, a good coach can be a great asset to your game. Because it is a great way to get one-on-one feedback from a professional player.
While the coach should have proven results in the games they coach, it is equally important to be able communicate effectively.
I recommend finding someone who is well-known in the poker community and has a history with happy students.
Check forum feedback, or private message former students to ask questions about their experiences.
Finally, if you ever receive a coach offering their services, you should run for your life. This is something that no coach worth their salt would do.
Good coaches don’t even need to advertise or solicit. They receive referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations all the time.