This is the first part in a three part series about poker instructors and why you should get one if you’ve come to a certain point in your game. How do you know when you’re at this point? I recommend you take poker instruction as soon as you can afford it, it is anywhere from $50-100/hour if you play lower stakes so you might want to build up a bankroll first and then start investing in a poker coach.
The way to get to that point is to find people to discuss poker with and absorb anything you can get your hands on. Let’s get on to the pressing issue, the reasons why you would want a poker coach and what to look for in one.
1. Finding leaks – A good poker instructor will spot leaks you never even thought you had. This happens to me all the time, although luckily less frequently as time goes by. When I started playing poker, my first coaching experience was in Limit Hold’em, I still remember it well. I was a bit frightened because it was all so new to me but it proved to be tremendously helpful and I became addicted to having a poker coach.
I’ve probably had over 20 poker instructors over my poker career and I constantly try new ones because the more perspectives you have from good players the easier it is to see the big picture and understand poker concepts. I still keep a few of my favorite poker teachers captive in my home (joke)
2. Help you with your goals – Awesome poker instructors will ask you what you want to get out of coaching with them. They will tailor the teaching to your specific needs and goals. And if you do not know what your goals are they will help you determine your goals. Note: Most coaches wont help you with this unless you commit to working with them extensively and even then most do not focus on this area in great detail so do not pass up coaches just because they are lacking in this area but be aware of it yourself.
3. Keeping you on track – A poker coach will keep you on track and help you achieve your goals (even if they do not help you determine them). What does keeping someone on track mean? Well, for me it means helping you avoid and overcome distracting objects and unnecessary subjects which will frequently come in your way. A few things that came in my way were focusing too much on statistics, worrying about downswings just to name a few of the top of my head.
4. Help you through rough stretches – This is one of the most important aspects of poker coaching. I always improve my game a lot when I run bad, because those tend to be the times I work on my game the most. And a poker instructor really comes in handy because it is so easy to slip and start playing bad when you are very unlucky and running bad. Your judgment gets clouded and you really don’t know what to do, it happens to the best. This is where good instructors shine, they will help you both in the emotional and strategic aspects of the game.
5. Help you feel good and be realistic – It is also good to discuss what is possible with your poker coach. Are you running bad or are you just playing horribly and need to improve a lot of aspects in your game? It is crucial that you are honest with yourself and take criticism well when you take poker coaching, because you are just wasting money if you go into a coaching session with a closed mind. I know people who take coaching and try to hide all of their weaknesses and leaks, that’s horrible! I love criticism, I frequently tell coaches to just tell me straight up what I need to do and how severe the leak is because most coaches are used to being soft on their students, because most of their students are hurt when someone says they are doing something wrong. Don’t be one of these students.
That’s my list and I am very happy with it. As I said, I highly recommend you take poker coaching/instruction even if you have to save up for one session every other month. I hope I have convinced you because if you want to take your game to the next level and speed up your learning curve, coaching is the way to go.
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