Naturally, as I spend a lot of my time coaching poker, I can see the benefits that my students receive. I'll be bias and suggest that all players should receive coaching to some degree. It's also important for me to explain how a good poker player operates and exactly what poker coaching is. I'll also explain more about what makes a good poker coach. In this article I'll do my best to play devils advocate, be honest, and explain which players will benefit the most from coaching. I'll also try to explain why you should or shouldn't get coaching, whether from me or other sources.
How Does Coaching Work?
Poker Coaching works by you getting into contact with another poker player, one that is good at coaching other students. A coach will find out which areas of the game their student needs to work on, based on their own knowledge of the game, and then offer pointers and theory on the subject. A good coach understands which areas will see the biggest improvement in a player in the shortest amount of time. Pre-flop leaks for example can often be solved relatively quickly- and have a knock on effect on the rest of a students game.
There are many areas of the game that students will commonly be deficient in, some coaches may prefer to focus on one area of the game in greater detail. As theory is shared across scenarios, allowing for an easier transfer of skills learnt, expediting study in other areas of the game. I prefer to offer a consultation session with players, watching a few hundred of their hands and providing them with a list of areas that they need to improve in. Then, should they wish, we can work together on those areas. This is also a chance to set goals and listen to where the client thinks that they're deficient in.
Will You Benefit From Coaching?
With the seemingly infinite quantity of free online resources for player to read, you may wonder why it's worth paying someone to coach you. There is also a growing quantity of paid content, some of it of very high quality too. This can be overwhelming for new player or regular players and my be of no use to better players. You will waste your time combing through these resources for relevant information, they are often a waste.
For the remainder of the article I'll refer to 3 groups of players:
New Players (Beginners)
Are familiar with the rules of the game.
Have a small amount of experience.
Are unsure where to start.
Recreational Players (Regulars)
Have tried using online resources.
Have been playing for some time.
Want to take the game more seriously.
Break-Even/ Slightly Winning Players
Players who can't progress any higher in stake.
Have used resources in the past successfully.
Poker Coaching for the Beginner Player
Coaching for new players will be highly beneficial. A coach can quickly put a student on the correct path with which resources they should use. They understand the areas of their game that are most time-effective to work on, and some basic, simplified theory that they need to know.
Beginner players are some of my favourite to coach. Those who are new to the game will often be overwhelmed with information and be unsure where to start. It's rewarding from my perspective, being able to direct my students to the most useful information, offer quick tips and advice for rapid progression, and be able to answer any questions that they have about poker which they may have been left confused about when researching the game.
One problem that new students could have with poker, is that they don't yet understand how complicated poker can be (this is the same for recreational players too). They may often think that they can already win/beat the game with only a small amount of coaching to "tip them over the edge". Unfortunately, this is seldom the case with newer players. If you go in thinking that coaching will be a quick solution to your problems, or even worse, if you think you can learn poker overnight to make a quick few bucks then you will not have a good time with both poker playing or coaching.
Recreational Players Looking to up Their Game
Coaching can be the most efficient way of taking a player who previously wanted to gamble or play for fun into a winning player. Recreational players benefit from coaching by quickly finding their leaks and having plans in place to solidify their games.
Recreational players can benefit the most from coaching if their play is inconsistent or they know that they lack their theory in certain areas. This is because coaching provides unique, tailored advice to each player. Generic poker courses can be good, but they waste time if a player doesn't have deficiencies in certain areas (not to mention that they course may not be appropriate for the goals of the player.)
Player A for example, may have a huge problem implementing overbetting but can make good bluff catches , while player B may poor at selecting bluff catchers but chooses appropriate times to overbet. As you can already tell, teaching both players about bluff catching would be great for player B, but would waste player A's time. Similarly players may not know that they struggle in these areas, so may decide to skip over the relevant parts of a course. Overbetting is also not explained well through free resources so may be more detrimental to the player who needs that knowledge.
Break Even Players Need Coaching
Arguably the best time to look for coaching is when you are slightly winning, or struggling to beat the next highest stake. This is normally because as an individual, you are already determined and committed to the game, expending all resources available before you look for more targeted advice.
The most common areas that these types of players benefit from in coaching:
Finding leaks that they could not spot themselves,
Touching up theory in specific situations,
Depending on the stake that the player is playing, a breakeven player may still have some arduous leaks in their game.
If you feel that you're no longer making inroads in your poker playing career or want to cut through all of the online noise, Poker Coaching may be for you. Whether you are brand new or already a winning player, everyone can benefit from a fresh set of eyes highlighting any mistakes that you may have. Coaches also provide a unique perspective with some specific, targeted advice to improve not only your win rate but also your feelings towards the game.