A Brief Introduction to Poker Coaching
Although poker strategy discussion has been around as long as the game itself, the internet age gives people free access to information and platforms for exchanging ideas that have brought strategy and the general poker skill level forward faster than ever before. If a player wants to improve their game nowadays they have a myriad of options available to them, from strategy articles all over the web, to e-books, strategy forums, and video training sites.
The most effective way to improve as a player however, is to a hire a coach. Coaches are usually established professional players that dedicate a certain amount of their time to teaching other players the skills that have made them so successful at the game (for a fee or course!)
How Does Poker Coaching Work?
A coaching program can take on a number of forms. Many coaches who take on a lot of students have a coaching framework in place where they charge a certain amount for perhaps six one-hour lessons with each lesson focusing on a different aspect of the game, but one off lessons and less formal programs are also very common. Usually the sessions are conducted over Skype and some sort of screen sharing software like Teamviewer.
Typical lesson formats would include the following:
Here the player and coach look through the player's tracking software database and examine all of the key statistics that will indicate whether or not he is playing well and attempt to identify leaks in his game or situations where he could be more/less aggressive.
Video Play Review:
In a video review session, the player records themselves playing a poker session with screen capturing software such as Camtasia and sends the video to the coach. The coach usually goes through the video in his own time making notes about the play and then goes through the video with the student afterwards, where they discuss mistakes and missed opportunities.
Sweat the Student:
This is probably the most widely used method, where the student starts up a session with the coach viewing his screen through Teamviewer or a similar package and the two talk through any hands that arise during the session. This allows the coach the opportunity to make the student question his decisions in real time and talk through the rest of a hand where he has advised a different line on an early street.
Sweat the Coach:
Here the coach plays a session at his regular stakes and the student watches him play through Teamviewer. This can be an enlightening experience for the student as they're free from the pressure of trying to learn and play at the same time and they can question any decisions that the coach makes should they not understand the logic behind them.
Selecting a Poker Coach
Selecting a good coach is important and you want to be sure that whoever you choose is worth the money that you're going to pay. There are a few way that you can ensure that you're getting what you pay for. Firstly, check that they're as good as they say they are; ask for their online poker screen names and look them up on the various tracking sites to see if their winnings are congruent with what they've told you. Ask to see their Holdem Manager or Poker Tracker graphs, and if you want to be very thorough, ask for them to send you their hand history database.
The second thing you should do is get references. Many people opt for a coach that their friends have used and recommended, but if this option isn't open to you, seek out past students and ask their opinion on whether they think the coach represented value for money and was flexible with answering quick questions over instant messaging and quickly going over hands that gave you trouble outside the allotted coaching slots. If the coach truly believes in his abilities, he'll have no problem providing you with details of former students.
Cost vs. Return
When people first encounter poker coaching they can be turned off by what seem like exorbitant rates that some coaches charge. The minimum you'd expect to pay would be $50 per hour and some coaches charge in the thousands per hour for their services. While this is far in excess of what you pay for most professional services, there is a return on investment that makes it worthwhile. For example if you play 6-tables of $0.50/$1 cash games and a coach identifies a leak that allows you to earn an extra 1 big blind per hundred hands, then you've added $5-6 to your hourly rate and the hour's coaching will have paid for itself within a week if you're a regular player.
Although coaching definitely has value for regular players at stakes of $0.50/$1 and above, you can see that it isn't really viable for a micro- stakes player $0.10/$0.25 who might only have a $1,000 bankroll. A good rule of thumb for cash games is to pick a coach whose hourly rate is about ½ a buy-in for the games in which you're playing. For tournament players around twice your average buy-in is an acceptable rate.
Best of Rakeback has assembled a group of talented (but affordable) coaches, saving you the effort of having to dig around the net for a quality coach.All our coaches are verified and vetted to the highest standards. You can review their playing and coaching history located on our coaching page.