February 9, 2023
The Ultimate Guide to Poker Coaching
- A poker coach is a successful, skilled, and experienced poker player who teaches others advanced strategy, gameplay, and mindset.
- Poker coaching and poker training are not the same — poker coaching is one-on-one, individualized poker training, while poker training is any form of studying poker and improving your skills.
- To find the right poker coach for you, you must consider your current skill level, the types of poker games you play, your goals, and your budget.
In order to get better at any skill, you need feedback from others — and poker is no different. However, asking fellow players for feedback on your gameplay isn’t always instructive, or their advice isn’t correct. The best way to get objective feedback from a skilled poker player is to pay for it.
You can pay for poker training where you take strategy quizzes, play simulated hands, hear lectures on strategy, and watch a coach review hands. Or, you can level up your poker training — and gameplay — by investing in one-on-one, personalized training sessions with a poker coach.
Let’s dive into how poker coaches help players improve, how to find the right poker coach, and how to determine if this is the best next step in your poker training journey.
What Is a Poker Coach?
A poker coach is an experienced poker player who teaches others how to play the game, usually with a focus on mindset, advanced strategy, decision-making, and bet sizing. Regardless of your experience level, a poker coach will:
- Analyze your gameplay
- Help you identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Guide you in fixing leaks in your gameplay
- Train you in specific poker skills
- Advise you on setting realistic goals
- Provide you additional training resources
Your experience level and your goals will determine how long and how often your poker coaching should be and what specific poker skills you’ll work on developing. The poker coach’s own specialization and experience will also influence what you will learn from them.
Poker Coaching vs. Poker Training
You might see “poker coaching” and “poker training” used interchangeably. Remember that all poker coaching is a form of poker training, but not all poker training is poker coaching.
Poker training refers to any practice or learning you do to improve your poker skills. Poker coaching is a type of poker training where you get personalized feedback on your poker strategy and skills.
Some types of poker training are more hands-on and focus on active learning — learning while playing the game — which can include techniques like simulated hands and gameplay quizzes. Many other forms of poker training use passive learning — studying before and after playing — such as reading a book or guide, watching a video, or reviewing a hand breakdown.
You may also find poker training sites that offer a mixture of general training and personalized coaching. For example, PokerCoaching.com from Jonathan Little allows you to get feedback on your gameplay from an actual coach. Other sites may employ advanced AI to give you instant feedback.
Who Should Consider a Poker Coach?
Everyone who is serious about becoming a better, more consistently winning poker player should consider a poker coach. But whether you should get a coach right now depends on your skill level, your goals, and your budget.
Many players who seek poker coaching already have quite a bit of experience on the felt (online or in-person) and are looking to level up to higher-stakes games, play in big tournaments, or become professional gamblers. A poker coach can be a great way to avoid or bust out of stagnation.
However, there are poker coaches out there who specialize in training beginners on the basics and even some advanced strategy.
How Much Does a Poker Coach Cost?
A poker coach can cost anywhere from $40 to $100 per hour, or more. You’ll have multiple coaching sessions to glean the most advice from your coach, so it’s an investment of hundreds or thousands of dollars over time.
Poker coaches often charge by the hour, but some provide coaching in exchange for a certain percentage of your profits. This setup is an investment for the coach — they need you to win so they can get paid. That means they’re more inclined to give you the very best training they can provide. This setup requires less of a financial investment upfront from you but is a great way to keep yourself accountable for practicing.
It’s important to keep in mind that the price per hour (or percentage cut) doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of coaching. In some cases, the price indicates the coach’s level of experience and/or reputation at the table. But you could spend hundreds of dollars per hour on poker coaching with one person, but someone who charges half or even a third of the price could be just as effective.
Types of Poker Coaching
Here are some of the different features of poker coaching that set each coach’s approach apart from one another:
- One-on-one poker coaching: In most cases, you’ll have one-on-one sessions with your poker coach. However, you may find group coaching sessions on poker training sites.
- Virtual poker coaching: Most poker coaches hold sessions over video call and may also occasionally provide feedback and guidance via email.
- Poker coaching for specific types of poker: While there are some generalist poker coaches out there, you’ll probably want to work with a poker coach who has a lot of experience (and currently plays) the same kind of poker you do. For example, you might consider getting a live cash game poker coach, tournament poker coach, online poker coach, no-limit Texas Hold ’em coach, or pot-limit Omaha coach.
- Poker coach for different stakes: Similarly to the type of poker, you also want to look for a poker coach who has a lot of experience playing at your next level and at the same stakes. For instance, if you want to master microstakes games, you should work with a microstakes poker coach.
6 Benefits of Getting a Poker Coach
While any type of poker training can help you improve your poker skills and increase your winning rate, poker coaching may streamline your development. Plus, poker coaching also offers you additional benefits you can’t get with any other type of training.
- Objective feedback: You pay a poker coach to give you honest, objective feedback about your gameplay so you can get better. Your poker buddies or previous opponents aren’t as likely to be as brutally honest and insightful.
- Access to years of experience and knowledge: You pay for a poker coach’s years of experience at the table. They’re going to share how to avoid the mistakes they’ve made and the strategies they’ve picked up along the way.
- Overall skill development: When you get feedback on your poker play and apply it in your future hands, you’re going to get better at the game overall.
- Specialized skill development: Working with a poker coach with proven experience in special poker skills and strategies helps you build up those skills, too. For example, a poker coach who’s skilled in game-theory optimal play can help you master GTO strategies.
- More confidence: After each coaching session, you should see improvement in your ability to execute the strategies you’ve learned and an increase in your winnings. Your poker coach should also see this progress and compliment you. All of this can make you a more confident poker player, which is key for leveling up.
- Self-coaching and correcting behavior: As your poker coach points out errors and alternative decisions in your gameplay, you develop your ability to identify these on your own. That helps you develop independence and self-correcting, which allow you to level up on your own without the consistent help of a coach.
How To Find a Poker Coach
Ready to find a poker coach? Use these five steps to search for and choose the right poker coach for you:
1. Browse online poker communities
Read through poker forums to find names of proven poker coaches as well as feedback from people who’ve worked with them. Many players share their experiences with poker coaches on threads dedicated to shouting out the best coaches, while other players post threads asking for recommendations. You may even find poker coaches sharing their unique approach and experience in these threads, too.
2. Check out poker training sites
Some poker training programs offer personalized one-on-one coaching as an additional paid service. This is a great way to find vetted poker coaches, especially if you like the online poker training program they’re part of. Check out sites like Advanced Poker Training and Tournament Poker Edge, which both have contact information and pricing for some of the coaches that work for the site.
3. Learn more about their play style and winnings
You’ve heard the phrase “those who can’t, teach,” but that doesn’t apply to poker coaches. They don’t have to be WSOP bracelet holders, but your poker coach should have a proven track record of winning consistently and successfully applying the strategy they’re teaching you.
You also want to work with someone who plays like you do (or how you aspire to play). If you’re an aggressive player and want to use that to your benefit, search for an aggressive player as a coach. If you want to get better at executing bolder plays, then you should work with a bold player whom you admire.
You can learn about a poker coach’s experience and mindset by:
- Reading any poker guides or books they’ve written
- Listening to their podcast or any poker podcast appearances they’ve had
- Watching their YouTube channel or Twitch streams
- Reviewing footage of previous tournament play
4. Read their reviews
Any coach worth their salt should be willing to connect you to current and past students and share the results they’ve helped their students achieve. Check their coaching website and community forums for reviews. Ask them for student recommendations and chat with previous students. Ask around the community about the quality of their coaching, too.
5. Find their player profile
Many professional and experienced amateur poker players have profiles on player tracking sites. Sites like The Hendon Mob and CardPlayer.com track all-time winnings across online poker and live table poker, recent cash wins, tournament wins from WSOP, WPT, and other tourneys. This is a great way to see if a potential poker coach is bluffing on their experience, success, or reputation.
Paid Poker Coaching vs. Free Poker Training Resources
Not many beginners have the money to invest in poker coaching. There are many great free and low-cost poker training resources to try before investing in paid poker coaching.
YouTube and podcasts are great for learning tips and strategy for free. There, you can watch footage of previous tournaments and live games as well as poker pros and coaches breaking down these hands.
Twitch is home to many professional online poker players and poker coaches who live stream and break down every decision they’re making while playing online poker. You can also access free guides and strategy tools from online training sites, like PLO QuickPro and Red Chip Poker.
Poker books for beginners and experienced players alike are relatively cheap, between $10 and $50. Even in-depth online guides written by great players and professional poker coaches that go for $50+ can be cheaper than poker coaching and pretty effective if you’re just getting started with poker training.
Once you get a poker coach, you’ll need an online poker room to practice in. Read our reviews of the best online casinos in New Jersey that offer online poker.