Getting Your First Poker Coach (A Complete Guide)

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One of the most important things in poker is to keep constantly improving your game. Even if you build a winning strategy, you should not stop there. The game is changing, the field is getting better, and there is a real danger of staying behind if you stop learning.

One of the most efficient ways to move forward is to hire a poker coach. A seasoned professional can easily recognize your mistakes and identify spots where you are leaving money on the table. Remember, poker is a game of small margins and having a coach will help you a lot.

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With so many options out there, it is important to get the most suitable one. This article will guide you through the most important aspects of choosing a coach, so you don’t waste time and money by making the wrong decision.

The Research Phase

The first step of the process is finding a suitable trainer who will help you the most. Before even starting to look, you have to consider a few things:

♠ What kind of a coach do you need?

Setting up a clear goal before starting your search will help you a lot. You should determine precisely what you need and only then start looking around. No one will be suitable for everyone; each coach can help you in a different way, so find the best one for you.

It goes without saying that first thing you need to determine is the game which the coach plays. If you want to improve in online tournaments, it would be wise to hire someone already playing this game instead of getting a live cash game specialist.

The stakes are also something to consider. A great nosebleeds player might not be as helpful as someone who is playing a bit above your limits or at least has many students in the stakes that you play.

Moreover, I highly recommend considering the personality of the coach. A lot of the time, it will be a deciding factor. You can find many good players in any format. However, just a few will be honestly interested to see your success and communicate in the way you enjoy.

Finally, you should know your primary goal. Do you want to improve your game at the current levels, to transition to higher stakes or deal with a particular topic? Answering these questions beforehand will help you to set your eyes on the target.

♠ Which channels should I use?

After constructing a clear vision of what is required, you should move on and start looking at your options. There are a couple of ways to approach the search.

I recommend starting your search at large poker communities around the Internet such as “twoplustwo”. They create an environment in which good coaches rise to the top in a natural way, and bad ones are left behind. It’s literary a free market where players that offer an excellent service are easily recognized from the feedback left by their students.

However, I would not stop there. When you have few candidates, just google them and figure out if they have an active website and is offering their services officially. If this is the case, you are more likely to get quality coaching and results you desire.

♠ How to vet your options?

So when you find someone that you like do not hesitate to contact them and see how they response. If the communication is slow or rude, that’s a bad sign. You want someone who will be responsive and willing to help. After all, the poker coaches are providing a service that you are paying for. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions about their teaching style or ways they are willing to help you. A good poker coach should easily answer all your questions.

The Training Process

As soon as you select a poker coach, it is time to start the collaboration. Your main goal is to take full advantage of the sessions and improve as much as you can. Remember that it takes two to tango and your input is crucial as well.

Before Your First Session

It is a good idea to consider the specific spots that you need to improve. This way you will be able to save some time and give good directions for the coach. For example, if you know that your c-betting ranges are far from optimal and you want to improve in this area let him know before the first session.

He will have time to prepare perfect information and plan it in advance before the lesson. This step is crucial for reaching best results so do not take it lightly.

During Coaching Sessions

Once you start working with the coach, you should find the right balance between listening patiently and being skeptical. You do not want to just sit there for an hour, take notes and follow the advice you received blindly. Simply accepting what you are being told might help to some extent, but understanding the reasons for each play, getting the thought process and implementing it in your decision-making is much better. This is where the real value of coaching lies.

You should not be afraid to ask questions and seek for more information. If something is unclear, demand an explanation until you get it. A good poker coach should be able to explain complex topics in an easy way. It will help you improve your poker IQ and not just provide a couple of immediate solutions for specific spots on the table.

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Between Coaching Sessions

Poker coaching is not just about the poker sessions you have with your coach. Like any other learning process, the effort you make alone is equally important. After each session, you should go through it again at least once, or even more if something is unclear.

Carefully consider everything that was part of the session and double check if you understood it clearly. Try to think of similar situations where a certain tip would apply and implement it to your game. Practice makes perfect, and poker is no exception.

Lastly, before the coming session, list down all the questions that came up during your studying and playing time. This way you will be able to discuss all of this in your next session and get all the answers you need. The process of poker coaching is a two-way street, and your attitude is a crucial factor. If you do not put in the necessary effort, you will just waste your time and money so make your effort count!

Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author of the free poker book “Play ‘A’ game and be the boss at your poker table”, and the owner of mypokercoaching.com! He is also a fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students and deeply enjoys it.

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