Poker coaching refers to the act of learning new poker skills and improving your online poker game. Although, typically one would think it refers to hiring a one on one ‘Poker Coach’ this page will explore all the resources available to you, to help you get to a stage where you can actually beat the online poker game of your choice.
One on One Poker Coaching
Avg. Cost: $50 per hour
Method: A good poker coach will usually ask you to start off the process by sending poker hand histories from recent sessions you may have played. It’s important that the HH’s you send are indicative of the normal way you play and at your usual stakes.
Avoid this: Many poker players send their coach hand histories where they are playing especially ‘solid’ poker or at higher stakes than usual. This means the coach does not have the opportunity to identify your common leaks and more importantly, you will never understand why you do the crazy things you do! It’s one thing to know that you shouldn’t re-raise AA on the river, when the board is: Tc, 8c, Js, 2c, 7s - But the true skill of poker is to understand why this is a bad play and why you have felt compelled to make such plays up until now.
After your coach has reviewed your initial HHs, he will likely ask that you play a live session with him watching you. This is usually done my screen sharing on Skype or via Teamviewer. The coach will ask you to keep everything that has been discussed so far in mind and this is your first opportunity to appraise their skills.
Avoid this: It has been known for dishonest coaches to use the fact they can see your hole cards to their advantage and actually sit at the table and play against you whilst viewing your cards. If you feel anything is not right, stop the coaching session immediately. Alternatively, if you feel more comfortable, you also have option of sending your coach pre-recorded videos and getting his feedback like this. Personally, (provided you trust the coach) I would recommend a mix, because listening to their thought process and suggestions in real time can be rewarding.
You can expect more sessions to continue like this, for as often as you like. You should begin to play differently after the first few sessions with the coach and probably see an improvement in results within a month.
Advantage: Hiring a poker coach to look over your game should mean you receive fine tuned feedback, that is fit for purpose of your poker game.
Disadvantage: Can be costly, hard to know if your coach is of true quality and potential buyers need to be aware of several scams that exist.
Poker Coaching Videos
Avg Cost: $30 per month
Videos explaining poker strategy and showing all aspects of the online poker thought process can be found anywhere online.
With the advent of technology and screen recording software, anyone can make poker coaching content, and arguably this is where the skill lies - You need to make sure that you’re watching the right stuff and the right coach!
Free resources such as PokerTube, Twitch.tv or YouTube have the advantage that there is no finanical risk, but proceed with caution and make sure you research the person you are watching. If they’re not a proven winning poker player, then what’s the point? Furthermore, remember that poker has a lot of variance - Just because the coach has clicked the record button as he was beginning to run hot, does not mean he is a real winner.
Then, we have paid resources. These either involve handing over your credit card details and paying up to $100 per month or members of websites / communities can access certain videos for free. Whilst the same pitfall that exists with free videos can exist on premium websites, one would hope it is less likely to occur because someone at the site should be ‘vetting’ the content. It’s definitely fair to say you will not be exposed to some of the pure rank amateurs you can encounter on YouTube.
Advantage: If you find the right coach and content, poker coaching videos can be a very effective way to get inside the mind of some of the best online poker players.
Disadvantage: It’s hard to take in all the content in the videos sometimes. Often, you will find all the information washing over you, and not actually take in some of the great advice on offer. A top tip is to have a notepad and come to the video with the same mindset as you would approach class with. Furthermore, another disadvantage that many believe, is that some of the top coaches deliberately hold back knowledge. Of course their competitors might choose to watch the videos and these guys naturally have to protect themselves.
Poker Coaching Books
Avg Cost: $30 per book
For a basic foundation in the game, books can be a fine way to learn. For example, for learning Texas Hold’em Hand Rankings, Betting Rounds, Blinds and maybe even basic concepts like Raising, Bluffing, 3-Betting.
However, if you seek a solution to help beat online poker and genuinely compete, it is this author’s genuine opinion that you will not find much help in hard copy books. It’s akin to learning a subject like SEO or Website Development from a book. You are seeking to learn online skills, why look to a book?
Also consider that online poker is constantly evolving and as such you must seek the most up to date content. Furthermore, think about the top online poker minds; Would they be published in hard copy? Do they have an urge to be published?
This author contends, that if a poker professional (in this day and age) has the time and resource to write a full book and get published, it’s fair to assume they are not dedicating the required time to improve their poker game. As such, this is not a method of poker coaching for those who are serious about furthering their online poker strategy.
Poker Strategy Articles
Avg. Cost: Typically Free
Similar to books, but an online version, poker strategy and poker coaching articles are fairly plentiful.
As always the issue comes from identifying quality. Research the author, the website the article is published on and look at simple things like spelling, grammar, and accompanying graphics to get a good idea of the quality.
Poker articles are especially useful for learning about specific poker concepts and a big advantage (many do not take advantage of) are the accompanying comments and discussion. Here, you will get a good idea of any objections to the quality of the article and if you have found a really good resource you may also see the author replying.
Advantages: Free, often have playing cards, videos and other media embedded in the article, up to date and easy to learn about a very specific poker concept.
Disadvantage: Absolute cutting edge information might be hard to find, or at least difficult to understand (as it is not easy to articulate), but this stumbling block exists probably in all forms of poker coaching material.
Other Methodsof Poker Coaching
One of my favourites is PokerVIP’s Interactive Poker Coaching tool. It works by presenting the user with various situations, where the user can select the answer from 1 in 4 choices.
User’s can also look for tips on answers to specific questions too.
Advantages include the fact that user’s are under time pressure (just like in a real poker game) and there are accompanying articles / videos. In theory it is the best way to learn anything; Step 1 reading, step 2 see the skills put into practice in a video and step 3 test your understanding.
Whereas with any of the methods above there is usually a weakspot i.e. No guarentee you have really understood the concepts that have been taught, this method ensures you have understood and have the skills to apply the concepts.
A quick rundown of other methods:
Poker Ebooks - Typically avoid these. They teach you no more than free poker articles and can be costly. Most of the revenue these Ebooks generate go back into marketing and there have been several notable scams associated with ‘secret formulas’ that allegedly will help you ‘crush’ online poker.
Poker Forums - Although not a specific coaching tool, online poker forums can be great for coaching and discussion. Typically, the more often one discusses and uploads poker hands, the faster they will be able to analyze and act upon specific situations. If you can get to the stage whereby you understand the thought process behind the ‘correct decision’ and can actually apply this process, the sky is pretty much the limit!
Poker Hand Sharing - Always share your poker hands, always seek feedback. I would recommend using a tool called WeakTight, which is an online poker hand converter that works for over 100 online poker rooms! Just paste in your hand history, and you will receive a URL you can share with all your friends. You can even hide the hand results, or convert the hand to Big Blinds, to get their true opinion independent of all the other stuff. It is a must have poker tool.
Final thoughts: Overall, the most useful, general piece of poker advice that runs through this article is to consider and research your source. If you are reading content that seems to be high quality on a well known website, then you can likely trust it’s along the right lines. Whereas, if you are reading content that is poorly put together or constantly trying to sell you something, beware!