Traditional poker coaching sites are dropping like flies. Unless your first name is Phil and your last name Galfond, hiding coaching videos behind a paywall is no longer a sustainable business model. Fortunately, there are still places on the internet where you can enjoy quality educational content for free like PokerVIP.com but it's pretty safe to say that the traditional coaching video format is way past its prime and will eventually fade away into relative obscurity. However, there's no need to panic.
Like the old saying goes "when God closes a door, he opens a window". Visual learners out there have access to a new exciting and extremely underutilized educational tool courtesy of Twitch. Streaming poker is all the rage these days, and while poker broadcasts are usually far more entertaining than educational they can still help you improve at poker if you approach them in a correct way. In this article, we're going to discuss the question of learning poker from Twitch.tv streams.
Take Your Pick
First of all, if you want to get the most value out of Twitch.tv broadcasts, you should spend some time finding a streamer that's right for you. There are hundreds of different players to choose from so do your research! You should look for a player that's playing the same game as you but is also considerably better and more successful at it, or at least at a comparable skill level. Otherwise, there's no point in learning from them.
You might think it's a good idea to start with the top streamers out there like Lex Veldhuis, Jaime Staples etc. and there's nothing wrong with that. Big broadcasters are often very knowledgeable and they might share their thought processes while streaming, but the huge viewership that they attract makes it so they can't really interact with every single viewer.
Filter Out The Noise
As we've already mentioned, poker streams are usually more about the entertainment than the education, because that's the optimal strategy for maximizing the number of viewers. Your average Twitch poker broadcast is considerably more chaotic than a coaching video. Most of them have an active chat full of off-topic discussions, emoticons and memes, distracting follower and subscriber notifications with loud audio clips and animated gifs etc.
This isn't exactly an atmosphere that's most conducive to learning, but with some practice, filtering the unessential becomes easy enough. Instead of engaging in a chat discussion about the season finale of a hit TV show direct your attention at the tables.
Join the Community and Ask Questions
Next step on your journey to improve at poker by using Twitch is becoming an active member of your favorite streamers community. Different broadcasters have different styles of streaming and interacting with the viewers, but even if you find someone that's happy to answer strategy related questions, don't bombard them with those out of the bat, as it might be considered rude or annoying. Start learning by observing their game and use some basic people skills to establish a positive relationship via Twitch chat. This is considerably easier with less popular streamers as they have more time for each individual viewer. In the case of the more popular channels, you might want to become a subscriber.
Some of the streamers can offer you exclusive subscriber perks like the ability to send them your hands for review, access to a private home game etc. They might offer you free strategy e-books, a chance to win a coaching session or they might simply be more inclined to answer your strategy related question if you're a subscriber. As we've already discussed streams are much more chaotic than coaching videos, but the interactive aspect of them can be a powerful one. If you're disciplined enough to filter out the background noise, a well-timed question can reward you with a powerful piece of external feedback that no coaching video can offer.
Don't forget that Twitch can be fun! If you're not a visual learner and you prefer other forms of education, poker broadcasts can still serve you very well as a form of infotainment that you can use to unwind while still doing something poker-related. Even if you intend to use Twitch mostly as an education platform "all business, all the time" attitude can actually damage your relationship with the streamer and disrupt the learning process.