An in-depth look at Poker Coaching Part 1: The Basics

When I first came up through the poker ranks the idea of hiring someone to teach you to play poker was… hmmm, how should I put this… novel? While there were most certainly people teaching other people to play poker, it was far from a job title, and on the whole things simply were not done this way before the poker boom. But during the poker boom this all changed, with so many new, young, players flocking to the poker tables there was an untapped market for skilled poker players to go beyond just writing a book and offering their services as a poker mentor of sorts and the world of poker coaching (along with the job description) was born.

In this series I’ll layout everything you need to know about poker coaching beginning with what precisely a poker coach is. In Part 2, I’ll talk about the different kinds of poker coaching that are available; in Part 3 I’ll go over what you should look for in poker coach; and in Part 4 the emphasis will be on what you should expect from your poker coach.

In today’s poker world, with competition and information at an all-time high, poker coaching is practically a must if you have any aspirations of making a go at living the life of a professional poker player. That being said, the quality of poker coaching has needed to keep pace with the rise in general skill level. Effective poker coaches are fewer and farther between than they were in 2006 for the simple reason that the games are far tougher to beat.

I’ve dabbled in coaching myself, mostly helping friends and acquaintances get their feet wet in the poker world, but I also have some real-world experience as a personal trainer (which is merely the exercise version of a poker coach) as well as having the opportunity to work with a professional consultant who taught me many things regarding the client experience and meeting and exceeding those expectations.

In this series I’ll try to layout everything you need to know to get the most bang-for-your-buck when you hire a poker coach, and hopefully any poker coaches who read this column will learn a thing or two about improving their own service and understand what is expected of them.

What is a Poker Coach?

A poker coach is the equivalent of a business consultant; think Restaurant Impossible, Salon Takeover, Bar Rescue, or Hotel Impossible. Their “job” is to turn around your poker game, beginning with the biggest problems, and if possible ironing out all of the little kinks in your game. Another important part of their job is to find problems you don’t even know about. They are basically players who have accomplished what it is you are looking to accomplish in the poker world; theoretically allowing them to walk you through the in’s and the out’s of the game, and avoid the usual pitfalls.

Beyond that a poker coach can also be a mentor, someone who can not only help you grow as a poker player but as a person capable of surviving in what is perhaps one of the most cutthroat professions you can choose.

What type of poker coach you need is dependent on your own goals and what you are hoping to get out of the coaching –which I’ll go over in more depth later on in Part 3 of this series, but next up on the docket in Part 2 of this series I’ll take a look at the different kinds of poker coaching available.


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  • Posted in: Poker, Poker Strategy & Tips
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