If you’re looking to improve your poker game, getting poker coaching from a proven player or coach can be a fantastic option!

  • To improve your overall gameplay strategy
  • Boost your winrate
  • Help you move up stakes
  • Eliminate tilt
  • Keep up with the changing trends in poker

Coaching in poker isn’t for everyone, though. Not all players are where personalised coaching will help them get their biggest bang for their buck. 

So, in this article, we’re going to dissect poker coaching and reveal everything to consider:

What Is a Poker Coach?

If you look at any professional athlete, they’re likely to have the tools at their disposal to help improve their craft. But many of them will also have coaches, support staff, and trainers around. This training team will help them continuously improve and develop their abilities.

The same is true for poker players:

Say you’re looking to boost your winrate and learn the ins and outs of poker to become a crusher at your stake. Getting a poker coach might be the correct next step for you to take.

Put simply, a poker coach will help give you personalised coaching sessions where they will do the following five things:

  1. Analyse your gameplay
  2. Assess what you’re doing right and wrong
  3. Help you plug your leaks
  4. Give you various additional insight on how to improve your poker game
  5. Help you develop the skills to become proficient self-assessment and analysing of your gameplay

It’s also essential to note that poker coaches can consist of people who help the off-table or indirect side of poker. They can teach you how to study or manage your emotions better in session.

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Poker Coach

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Poker Coach

Poker coaching will not be a suitable method of advancement for everyone. But for many players, it can have the capacity to transform losing players into winning players. It can help add valuable bb/100 to your winrate that you’d otherwise be missing.

One of the primary benefits of poker coaching is the personalised development of your specific game. Many online programs or subscription-based training sites offer general strategies to follow. 

  • But poker coaching can dive deep into the nitty-gritty of your specific game.
  • It can find the leaks particular to you and where you have room to improve.

For example, sure, you can buy a $1,000 lifetime poker course sharing the ins and outs of cash games. But much of the information might not be applicable if you’re playing micro stakes.  (The player pool tendencies at these stakes are much different than what is GTO optimal)

Or if you’re playing heads-up cash games, where some concepts can transfer over from full-ring or 6-max. But a good chunk of the overall strategy is going to be different.

So, personalised coaching in poker is good if you want more individualised feedback on your game. But if you’re just starting to play poker, the generic training options might be more beneficial. 

This concept is applicable in terms of $ investment and focuses more on the general basic concepts before getting into specifics.

Be sure to see the section down below on “Alternatives to One-on-One Poker Coaching” if this sounds like it might be more up your alley.

How Much Do Poker Coaches Cost

Pricing for poker coaching will vary dramatically from coach to coach. Some coaches will charge around $40/hour. Others can skyrocket their rate to hundreds or even thousands of dollars – and that’s frequently for a one-hour session!

There are a few things to note regarding the price of a coach:

  1. $/hour for coaching doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the $/hour for the coach’s winrate:

    Some coaches might win much more per hour than they charge for coaching. But they are looking for a bit more guaranteed/stable income. Perhaps they want to spread their wealth of knowledge by giving some goodwill back to the world, too.

    Other coaches might have mastered the fundamentals of the game and have a low $/hour in poker results. But they are exceptional at what they’re able to do as a coach.

    EXAMPLE: Just take a look at Bill Belichick, the head football coach for the NFL’s New England Patriots. He makes an estimated $18 million per year and has led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl wins in the last two decades. But he has never before *played* in the NFL; he only previously played college football, at most.

    He didn’t have to have the most prestigious playing career to accomplish what he has as a coach. But even so, his coaching results have been nothing short of outstanding.

How Much Do Poker Coaches CostHow Much Do Poker Coaches Cost

  1. Look at coaching as an investment that you’ll gain back over time:

    In an ideal world, you should be able to make back the amount of money you spent on poker coaching within three months of playing. Now, this can be a complicated metric to gauge accurately because of variance. But it’s nevertheless essential to try and calculate.
    • Let’s say you’re winning $750/month playing 25NL. 
    • You purchase 4.5 hours of coaching sessions at $50/hour, for a total cost of $225. 
    • In theory, to make the coaching worthwhile, you should aim to increase your average monthly profits to $825/month ($75 x 3 = $225) over the following three months.
    Using this metric used to calculate the ROI of coaching, it’s relatively easy to see that poker coaching might not be for everyone.  (1-hour of coaching could severely dent one’s micro stakes bankroll by a few hundred dollars. 

    It may take many months or maybe even years to recover). Perhaps a “coaching for profits” situation or alternative forms of training/coaching would be more beneficial to players of this level. (More on this in section #6.)
  1. The $/hour isn’t necessarily representative of the quality of coaching you need (or that will be most valuable to you):

    Assume you’re a beginning player just starting at the micro stakes. Your day job provides you with a very comfortable salary. You can afford a few coaching sessions of $500/hour. 

    Is this going to be the best initial use of your money for poker coaching? No!

    As a beginning player, you need to start with the basics! For a beginner’s level of gameplay, a $40/hour coach could likely provide the same fundamentals as a $500/hour coach. 

    You could also gain the same knowledge from an evergreen poker course or by reading a few poker articles or books.
  2. Some coaches offer discounts on “multi-hour” coaching packages:

    To get the “best bang for your buck,” some coaches offer discounts for multiple hours of coaching if you book in advance. All the hours aren’t for the same coaching session. You get a deal by buying multiple hours upfront (instead of per hour or “a la carte”). 

    Make sure that your coach is a good fit before locking up multiple hours in advance.
  3. Remember the extra time that coaches often include when formulating coaching rates:
    • There are the email exchanges
    • The preparation for a training session (often for free) 
    • Overtime or a couple of extra minutes at the end of a session

    Consider the back-and-forth between coaching sessions to address any tiny concepts. If a coach has a higher rate than what you expect for 1-hour block of time, remember all this extra time surrounding the session.
  4. Various ways to pay: Coaching for profits vs $/hour:

    We’ve discussed the $/hour method of compensation for poker coaching up until now. But in some instances, coaches take a % of a players’ profits instead of a $/hour figure. 

    This deal might be an advantageous offer for micro stakes players who might not have the bankroll currently to pay upfront. 

    It is also great for the player. It reduces the element of risk they have with finding a good coach. In other words, the onus is on the coach to deliver top information. The coach only profits if/when the student does well. 

Coaching For Profits vs $/hour

And in terms of the benefit to coaches, the coaching will last for months (i.e., until a specific monetary bankroll). So, this long-term is a valuable investment for them, too. 

Note that there are usually contracts in-place for “coaching-for-profits” type of deals to protect both sides in the agreement.

What to Look For in Your Poker Coach

There are many professional poker coaches worldwide. With so much training available online, the market may be saturated in terms of poker coach options. 

So, to get the best “fit” between you and a coach, there are six critical things to consider:

  1. They Are Winning Players: This fact should be obvious. You don’t want to get coached by players who are not lifetime winners with a proven track record.
  2. They Play the Games You Want to Master: You don’t want to have an MTT player teach you SNG strategies or a 6-max cash game player coaching heads-up strategy. Find coaches who are experts in the same game type/format that you want to excel in and book sessions with them.
  3. Their Playing Style Matches the One You Want To Have: If you want to improve at analysing live poker tells, get a poker coach who excels in this. If you want to have a GTO sensei coach you, search for a player who frequently studies with solvers and plays high-stakes GTO-based games. If you want to eliminate your tilt and focus better at the poker table, find a solid poker mindset coach.
  4. Ensure They’re a Good Coach: Not all great poker players are great coaches. Search for reviews on potential poker coaches and see what feedback previous students have provided, if possible. Say the coach offers multi-hour coaching packages. See if you can take advantage of an initial consultation. Or have a 1-hour long coaching session first to ensure of a good fit.
  5. They Help You Understand the “Bigger Picture”:  Much of poker coaching consists of reviewing individual hands. But there are a plethora of different possibilities that can be present in any given hand:
    • Player types
    • Table position
    • Stack sizes
    • Seating arrangements, etc.

    Coaches should give you an underlying foundation for “bigger-picture” concepts. They shouldn’t get fixated on individual spots.
  1. They Help Prepare You to Be Self-Coached and Independent: Many coaches realise that most poker coaching is short-term. As such, the best coaches know the importance of giving their students the tools to succeed independently. Their students must learn self-coaching.

    Coaches are already aware of their duty to teach students immediate underlying poker concepts. Not only do coaches help players plug their immediate leaks. But they also take them through the process of improving their game or reviewing hand histories on their own.

    These lessons will include how to review hands sessions, how to use and work with poker solvers, etc.)

The Different Types of Personalised Poker Coaching

The Different Types of Personalised Poker Coaching

There are many ways that you can utilise the time with your coach in a coaching session:

  1. Hand Histories: Mark hands for review in your online sessions. Discuss these in-depth during your next coaching sessions. Remember to focus on the “bigger picture” concepts you can learn from each hand you reviewed. Don’t get fixated on a particular spot that might only infrequently come up as you play.
  2. General Strategy Sessions: There is a massive benefit of having a coach take you through some of the critical concepts in poker (versus learning it in a course online).  You can have a back-and-forth dialogue with any questions to help you understand better and faster.
  1. Recorded Gameplay Reviews: A student screen can record a session they play online and send it to a coach. The coach then records going thru the session, addressing any pointers and tips for each hand along the way.

    This process takes the “live element” out of poker coaching, making things less-than-ideal. But it’s still acceptable for specific students. This coaching method can be suitable for coaches who like to dictate their own schedule.

    It can also be beneficial to both parties if they live in different time zones. It may be challenging to coordinate a time for a live coaching session.

Alternatives to One-on-One Poker Coaching

As mentioned previously, coaching in poker isn’t necessarily the best way to improve for everyone. Some people might prefer reading or watching videos rather than consulting with a poker coach. 

If you’re at more of a novice level, more generalised training methods will likely be able to provide you with the same results on the cheap. 

There’s also the option of skipping poker coaching altogether. Put in more time yourself with solvers and hand history reviews.

Whatever the case may be, here’s a list of some alternatives to poker coaching sessions:

Free Options

  • Twitch Streams: Many professional poker players stream their sessions on Twitch. This format can be a valuable way to see what the pros do. Sometimes, they even explain the strategy and underlying reasoning why they take specific actions.

Twitch 888pokerTV StreamTeam

  • Watch TV Shows with Hole Card Cams: Players won’t usually be discussing the reasoning behind their plays in each situation. But televised poker shows can, undoubtedly, give insight.
  • Free Online Articles: Check out the plethora of strategy articles we have here at the 888Magazine to improve your poker game!
  • Memorise Preflop Charts: Post-flop play will usually need the most attention for study. But every poker hand always starts with pre-flop action. Much of this studying will often be cut and dry. But it’s essential to take the time to learn and memorise pre-flop ranges for the different positions and situations.
  • Discuss Hands with Poker Friends: Your poker friends may not always have the answers (or even the correct answers, at that!). But it can undoubtedly be beneficial to bounce poker hands and ideas around with friends and players well-versed in the game.
  • Join Discussion Groups: Joining a poker community (like a poker forum or a FB discussion group) can be a great way to connect with like-minded players.
  • Buy Training Programs: Many sites offer paid one-time in-depth training courses with lifetime access. These are great tools to help you dissect the details for popular poker variants, like MTT’s, cash games, HU games, mixed games, etc.
  • Subscribe to Training Sites: There are also many websites with subscription-based services, payable monthly or annually. You can find a continuous stream of training videos to keep their content current.
  • Poker Books: Usually costing between $20 and $40, books can be a great resource to help you learn poker strategy. Be sure to pick up books that are current and aren’t dated. Poker has evolved dramatically in the last 10-20 years. So, books from the early 2000s may no longer be the most useful.
  • Work With Solvers: PioSOLVER is an example of a great tool you can use to run simulations in various Hold’em scenarios. You’ll be able to see the optimal line to take in various situations across various boards, stack depths, and bet sizes.

    If you don’t have a PC or don’t want to download any software, many companies offer situation “solver-like” tools. They typically offer a subscription-based model to help your GTO strategy.

Summary: The Bottom Line on Best Poker Coaching

Poker coaching for most players will undoubtedly help them evolve into even better players than they are today. 

Having the advice of someone who’s put in the work before you with experience in the games you’re looking to crush can take your game to the next level.

Matthew Cluff is a poker player who specialises in 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games. He also periodically provides online poker content for various sites.