Are Poker Coaches Worth It?

Man Wearing a Coach Shirt With a Poker Cards and Chips Image

Poker coaches have set the bar for taking your poker prowess to the next level. That’s what they’ll have you think, anyway. In fact, I’ve spoken with players that swear by them. I’ve also seen players stagnate and stall their improvement after hiring a coach.

Like many other endeavors, it can be a problematic task discerning the role that coaching takes over raw talent. Without Earl, would Tiger Woods still be Tiger?

Sure, that’s an extreme example… But you get my point.

Today, I set out to separate the fact from fiction on poker coaches. If you keep reading below, you’ll find out whether poker coaches are actually worth it.

How Much Does a Poker Coach Cost?

How much does a meal cost? It depends, doesn’t it? You could choose to go to a drive-thru and spend $6 on food. Or you could slap on the sport coat and have a $200 steak meal at a fine restaurant. The choice is yours.

And obviously, there are several choices in between. There’s something to the idiom, “You get what you pay for,” but I’ve also walked away from some expensive meals feeling unsatisfied.

What a poker coach will charge for their time depends on several factors outside of your control. The standard seems to be roughly what they would expect to make playing real money poker for that time.

Imagine you’re a poker coach. Would you take a pay cut to step away from the tables and teach some random gambler your wealth of knowledge?

Neither would the legitimate coaches. My point here is buyer beware! If you think you found the mother of all bargains, you may have found a dud. But I did find that most coaches will offer you a package deal. By taking advantage of these opportunities to buy in bulk, you can reduce what you’re paying per hour.

Poker Coaches for New Poker Players

For the brand-new poker player, coaching may not be a good investment. This may seem counterintuitive, but you simply won’t get the full benefits of their pricey lessons.

You can watch videos and read articles from not only top poker coaches, but from the poker stars themselves on several sites. This should dramatically cut your learning curve, and you’ll still be able to apply your lessons at the tables.

Pile of Random Playing Cards

Do some home cooking at this stage of your development. You’ll be much more poised to integrate future lessons into your table play if you have a solid foundation to build on. And you can build that foundation without spending money on a poker coach.

For the Player That Has Hit a Wall

Maybe you’ve been playing for three to six months and still regularly lose money. That’s not unusual. In fact, it’s expected.

If you’ve got the basics down and continue to make mistakes, you’re probably in the demographic of players that will gain the most value from a poker coach. If you don’t have opportunities to work on your game, you aren’t likely to improve, and it’s no surprise that you’re losing.

Your game may have progressed nicely, and the other players at the tables you are on are simply more skilled at this stage. If you have been putting in long sessions of quality play and just can’t seem to win, a poker coach could be just what you need to push over the hill.

By quality play, I am referring to the following factors:

  • You have a firm grasp of what hands to play
  • You execute proper bet sizing
  • You’re able to place your opponents on a range of hands

If you are successfully achieving these standards and still can’t breakthrough, maybe you should find a coach. Typically, coaching is sold in one-hour slots.

So, you may look at getting a bargain by purchasing a five-hour block. You may have a lesson and take a few days to a week to practice your new skills. Then, you meet again to evaluate how you did and provide feedback as to what’s working and how to improve.

Another considerable advantage of having the right coach will be their expert ability to point out deficiencies you may not even realize you have.

Which Poker Games Are You Playing?

This might be the biggest blunder I see people making. They hire a coach who doesn’t have much experience in the game or variant they’re playing.

You have to find an expert in the game you’re playing.

If you’re playing a lot of heads-up cash games, it’s a waste of time and money to hire a poker coach that only plays 6 max. In addition to the wasted resources, the principles you’re learning may be flat out useless.

Once you’ve decided on the game you’ll be playing, do your research. Be sure your coach is an expert that wins at your chosen game.

You should probably stay away from coaches that play games way above your pay grade. Low-stake and high-stake games differ greatly. The games are just played differently.

Look for a coach that was playing your limits within the past two years and rapidly improved or one that is two or three levels ahead of you currently.

Different Styles of Poker Coaches

Obviously, the teaching style of your poker coach is critically important. I’ve met with poker coaches with as much personality as wet carpet. I could barely get through a passing conversation without a nap.

Luckily, there are plenty available that have real-world experience teaching and make the entire process of improving your poker skills exciting and engaging.

A percentage of the coaching pool will record your session and send you a copy to have for continual review for no cost. This is a huge benefit and truly maximizes your dollars spent.

Before meeting with your coach, write down any questions you have. This allows you to get the most of your time and money, because you aren’t spending time distracted by thinking of what to ask or remembering that question you just had to ask.

Are Poker Coaches Worth It?

Maybe. If you’re a total newbie, poker coaches AREN’T worth it.

On the other hand, if you seem to be stuck and just can’t break through to winning poker, then it may be worth every penny and more.

It will never be worth it if you don’t improve. Coaching isn’t a magical cure to all your woes. Sure, a coach will identify some significant flaws and guide you on how to play in those weak spots. However, it decidedly falls on you to apply your lessons when the chips are on the line.

Steel Case of Poker Chips

I discussed the variations in the pricing of poker coaches. Some of these coaches charge some serious money to share their secrets, while others charge half or less. If you are confident that both individuals could teach you the same lessons, it would be foolish to hire the more expensive coach.

If hiring a poker coach increases your take at the tables or allows you to accomplish a goal of some kind in a reasonable time frame, then a poker coach is definitely worth it.

Profits for Coaching

If you are a profitable player and looking to fine-tune your game but don’t have the extra coin, you have options.

Poker coaches will sometimes share their experience with you for no money upfront. If a player and a coach have built trust, then the coach may agree to offer lessons with a promised return on all profits for a small amount of time.

Really, it’s great for the player. You are only paying for the lessons if you took something out of the session that was applicable and profitable at the tables. Usually, the pair will agree on a predetermined amount of time or a specific number of hands.

As these arrangements rely on a healthy mutual trust to work, these may not be available for you if you haven’t established a solid rapport with the poker coach in question.

Conclusion

And that’s what you need to know about whether to hire a poker coach or not. You also have a great place to start if you are a beginner and are concerned with getting left behind

Remember to do the research before making any coaching decisions. You’ll be much better off spending hours finding the best coach than spending hours wondering what happened to your entire bankroll.