My Experiences With Poker Instructors (series) — the poker how to

This is part 2 of 3 in my 3-part poker coaching series. If you haven’t read 5 Different Ways a Good Poker Instructor Will Help You, I suggest you read it before this one (although I don’t think it matters that much). In this part I will share my experiences in a little bit more depth. What kind of experiences have I had with poker instructors then?

Nothing but good ones, although you have to look out for poker instructors who don’t really know what they are doing. The best way to avoid this is to ask around and see what other people think of their coaching. Try to find out what good players think of them, usually if good poker players think highly of a poker teacher then you are very unlikely to have a bad experience.

How Did I Get Started with Poker Instruction?

Like I said in Part 1, my first instructor was in Limit Hold’em. It was when I was playing 5/10 Fixed Limit Hold’em and had just moved to play shorthanded 6-max tables. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon poker coaching but I remember seeing someone post over at the 2+2 forums and I saw one guy consistently crank out good posts, I clicked on his name and looked at his profile. He apparently had a website and I saw that he was offering coaching, “Why not?” I thought to myself.

It was pretty expensive and one of the most expensive hours of lessons I’ve had to this date at $300/hour. It was tremendously helpful and that initial investment of $300 has paid itself back a hundred fold. I hardly ever think a good poker coach is too expensive because you have to see it as an investment. You also have to be aware of what the price is relative to the stakes you are playing. You do not want to hire a high-stakes poker coach for $300-500/hour if you’re playing low-stakes. It makes much more sense if you got a low-stakes coach that charges $50-100 instead, because you will need to learn the basics before you can understand the more advanced concepts.

How Did It Help Me?

There are so many areas it has helped me, I think I am one of the players who has taken the most coaching out of most poker players out there (although I have no evidence). I try to take some coaching every week and on top of that I have some friends on MSN, AIM and Skype with which I discuss hands that I have problems with daily.

Let me just say that if it wasn’t for poker instruction I wouldn’t be making $10,000+/month and doing it consistently. When I switched to No-Limit Hold’em last year I met someone called Jason Rosenkrantz, he is the owner of a coaching website called At the time I was playing shorthanded Limit Hold’em up to $20/40 and $30/60, I was getting sick of limit so I sought out a No-Limit coach and Jason was the one I bumped to. At the time he was charging a low $60-80/hour compared to the $500/hour he is charging today.

From about May to August I literally spammed his mailbox with hands I had trouble with and that I wanted confirmation on. We spoke daily on AIM and discussed different poker concepts and everything related to poker. This is how I learned No-Limit Hold’em and Jason is the one poker coach I’ve done the most extensive work with. So practically how he helped me was to teach me the game and help me earn what I earn today.

How Does It Work, What Does a Session Look Like?

When I take coaching I am usually flexible to what the coach prefers to do and I discuss what he thinks is best and what I think is best for me and how we could work best together. Here is a list of different things a typical poker coaching session might hold:

  • Sweating - This is when the poker instructor watches you play or you watch him play. Communication can be made through an instant messenger like AIM or through Skype/Phone. I recommend you do it over phone because that way you will pack in a lot more discussion and make it easier on both of you.
  • Videos - You can make videos of you playing, videos are usually made with software like Camtasia and uploaded on a site like filefront for your coach to download. He will then proceed to write down notes on your plays and send them back to you for discussion.
  • Hand Histories – This format consists of you playing on your own and saving the hand histories of your session (most poker sites offer this option) and sending them to your poker coach. He will then make notes and comment on your hands and send them back to you. You can also save specific hands you had trouble with during your session and send these for review.
  • Discussion – I have only had one coach offer discussion as a method of coaching and I think it is an inferior form because it will be hard for a coach to see your leaks by just discussing with you. Most players are very inconsistent between what they talk about and how they apply it. Someone might know how to play a hand in theory, but when it comes to it and they’re sitting at the table they do something entirely different. Although this form of coaching can be helpful, new players should choose one of the other three to begin with.

I still hire lots of poker instructors to this date. As I said, I try to do one coaching session per week, if I can’t manage that or don’t feel the need to then I stick to once a month for my monthly check-up to see how my poker game is doing. I don’t want to slip when this is how I make my living icon_smile-7025314

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