There is a litany of ways to improve your poker game. Some players read books, while others prefer to watch videos or learn from TV and Twitch. For some, they seek others to help them take their game to the next level in the form of poker coaching, which will be the subject of this article.

Let’s assume you’re the sort of poker player who needs help and are motivated by a coach. You’ve decided that poker coaching is something you want to try, but where do you begin? 

Most people would google “best poker coaching” and come up with some reliable options, and for a select few, they have networks that could open doors for them as well.

No, your situation, here are some things to consider while seeking out poker coaching.

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What’s the Best Poker Coaching for You?

In poker, there are many different variants. The same can be said of poker coaching. Some specialise in various types of play (i.e. MTT’s, SnG’s, cash games, etc.) for both online poker and live brick-and-mortar play. You can also find guidance to help benefit your mental game, seek out life coaching, and jump in to in-person seminars.

The first order of business is whittling down all the coaching options to fit your needs. However, once you’ve decided on the sort of coaching you want, there are other choices to be made. Are you interested in one-on-one or group coaching? How about in-person or virtually? 

Like personal training in a gym, solo poker coaching is more intimate but expensive. At the same time, group stuff tends to be more affordable, even if it’s not as individually engaging as you might hope.

There are so many poker coaches out there offering a wide array of training opportunities, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. It may seem overwhelming, but the good news is most poker coaches offer some form of complementary exposure to their courses/lessons. 

That way, you get a taste before committing. Keep an eye out for special offers or even consider reaching out to your coach of choice to see if they can accommodate you.

Online Poker Coaching

Getting a coach for online poker has never been easier. One of the reasons this is true is the sheer amount of data a student can provide a coach. Whether it’s from poker-tracking software or hand histories, both the online sites and your computer handles most of the work. 

Whether you want to target specific areas of your game such as chips voluntarily put in the pot (VPIP), preflop raising (PFR), Blind Stealing, or bets (i.e. continuation-bet, squeeze bet, float bets, check-raising, etc.), online play makes it easy to develop a targeted, detailed database. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all right away. Your poker coach will guide you through it all.

Another beneficial aspect for online poker coaching is that your coach doesn’t necessarily have to be there to guide you. If you’re playing online, your coach can simply log on and observe the session remotely. Afterwards, the two of you can always connect via Skype, Zoom, or any of the other excellent video communication options out there for a review session.

Because of the easy accessibility, online poker coaching is conducive to building a synergetic relationship between student and coach.

Live Poker Coaching

One of the challenges of live poker coaching is that players don’t tend to have comprehensive stats as online players do. Poker coaches don’t have a vast database that quickly indicates the areas of your game that need improvement. Realistically, they can’t sit and watch you play live poker for hours on end.

That said, one popular tactic for a live poker coach is to sit down with you for a few hours in a live game and compete. During this time, the coach will pay careful observation to your play. Afterwards, he or she will have evaluated your game, identified areas of improvement, and come up with a solid plan for moving forward.

poker player playing heads-up against someone dressed like a professor

Another aspect of live poker coaching is group seminars. Whether it’s a poker training site, a tour, or even an individual poker pro, frequently card-rooms and casinos will host training opportunities before a big tournament.

The cost of these seminars varies, but often they pay for themselves in those instances when a student goes on to cash the tournament or even win it. The poker world is sprinkled with such stories. 

Just remember, when it comes to live poker, you’ll have to do more homework by crunching your own numbers and defining which areas of your game you want to improve.

Crowdsourcing as a Coach

While one often thinks of a coach as an individual, many poker players opt to pursue coaching via crowdsourcing. They will befriend like-minded individuals to talk over hands, bounce off new ideas and strategies, and generally consult for all thing’s poker.

To do this, a lot of players will start some form of communication line. Possible options are an email chain, Facebook group, or text message. Both WhatsApp and Discord are popular options in the poker world, where players virtually congregate to help one another improve.

If you’ve got a big network, perhaps seek out some friends to be a part of your discussion group. The unit can be as big or small as you’d like. If you don’t have connections to draw upon, don’t be afraid to make some. Reach out to players who’re similarly skilled (i.e. if you’re a $1-$2 mid-stakes grinders, seek out your peers) and ask them if they’d be interested in taking part. Chances are they’d be happy to participate. 

Otherwise, many poker coaches will have such group chats established for their students. If you link up with a coach, be sure to ask them about this option.

group of poker players

Be Honest

No matter what sort of poker coaching you choose, there’s one thing you need to do if you want to improve, and that’s to be honest with both yourself and your coach. 

If you undertake poker coaching and aren’t upfront about things such as your leaks, concept struggles, or accurately describing how you played a particular hand, then you’re only setting yourself up for failure. 

If you can’t be honest, chances are you’re never going to learn. 

By reading this article, you’ve already taken the first step in exploring poker coaching. For the next step, we do recommend that you Google either “poker coach” or “poker coaching” to see what’s out there. 

You can also find a wide range of services, prices, and reviews on Two Plus Two’s coaching forums.

Chad Holloway is a 2013 WSOP Bracelet winner who has previously worked for PokerNews as a managing editor and live reporter