Sit and Go Coaching

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Nothing can shorten a learning curve like a coach or mentor can. All the best athletes, musicians, business people and, yes, even poker players, have had a coach or mentor at some point in their careers. Many still use the right sit and go coaching to this day, despite their success.

In the case of poker, I can’t think of a faster way to improve your skill set and move up in stakes than having a coach. They’ll help you to avoid the costly mistakes that they’ve made, and they’ll also help you deal with other aspects including bankroll management, handling variance and developing a strong work ethic. A good coach is worth his weight in gold.

The real challenge is finding a coach. Not so much any coach, but a good coach. That’s what I aim to help you do now.

Where to Look for a Coach

There are many places to look online for a coach. They will all have their pros and cons.

Poker Forums

Forums are the easiest places to find coaches. I recommend sticking to 2+2 and Part Time Poker. There are more than enough quality coaches to hire. You’ll also have somewhat of a platform to speak from in case something goes very well or terribly wrong.

Note: To be clear, when you hire a coach from a forum it is “buyer beware.” The forums cannot be held responsible if something goes wrong. But my point is that you’ll at least have people to share your story with and get some kind of (moral) support if/when something does go wrong.

What I like about hiring coaches from forums is that you can find deals on hourly rates or hand history reviews from up and coming players. Many of these players have had coaching themselves. So not only are they better players, but the coaching is still fresh in their mind. You can find guys for like $25 per hour. For a lot of guys, it only takes an hour or hand history or two to take their game from losing to break even or profitable.

The downside to finding a coach in forums is that you do not have much in the way of any recourse if something goes wrong. You also have to filter out more coaches compared to other options.

Poker Training Sites

Online training sites such as Deuces Cracked and Card Runners is another option for finding coaches.

The upside to finding a coach on a training site is that you can check out their videos before you work with them. That will give you an idea as to whether or not their style will work well for you. These coaches are proven winners too, many of which play professionally online/live with big results. I also like how many of these sites plaster their coaches faces on their site. They can’t hide.

Another upside is that most of these coaching sites are legitimate businesses. So there is some recourse if anything was to go wrong.

The downside to finding a coach on a training site are the prices. You’ll have very few options for coaches under the $100/hr mark, and many of the coaches are in the ballpark of $200-$650.

Backers (Investors) / Stables

Another way to find potential coaches are through investors. Many investors are players themselves, and they run stables of horses that they coach and back to play. If they don’t play and/or coach, some of the larger stables pay other coaches to help their players improve.

The upside to working with an investor is that you’ll usually be backed to play. So if you don’t like the thought of playing on your own bankroll, that’ll take some of the pressure off. Coaching is (usually) free too, or heavily discounted.

The downside to receiving coaching from an investor is that in most cases they do want to back their students. So if you want coaching, you’ll have to do so on their dime. There is also more rules to follow since you won’t be playing on your own money. And from my own experience, receiving actual one-on-one coaching time can be hit or miss. But that’s something that you can work out in advance (and get in writing).

Be Sure to Research Each Coach

I hope this goes without saying, but you should do your due diligence before hiring anyone, or signing up to a long term staking contract.

I speak from experience.

When I was looking for a coach (and a staking arrangement), I turned in an application for a spot on “Team Moshman.” I got a reply back saying that I could get started with them, and who I would be working with.

I spoke to my eventual coach/backer, and we looked up who I would’ve worked with had I signed up to Team Moshman. The player was mediocre at best. He had ok results overall, but for the games I wanted to play his results weren’t that good.

When you research a coach, take a look at their Sharkscope stats, especially for the stakes and games you want to play. Also ask if they have any references or past students that you can talk to. Treat this as if you were hiring someone for your company or to do jobs around your house.

How Coaching Works

Once you hire a coach, your sessions will (usually) go one of two ways:

  • Hand history review – You’ll pick out a couple hand histories that you went deep in and you’ll review them together. Good coaches will help you to work on the why (you did something), as much as or more than the what (you did).
  • Live sweat – Your coach will either watch you play or you’ll watch your coach play. The idea behind a sweat session is to get a live look at how hands are processed and decisions are made.

Either way, unless you’re close enough to your coach that one of you can travel to the other’s house, coaching sessions will be online using a screen sharing program such as Mikogo or Team Viewer and a microphone. You’ll want to have all of these programs setup in advance so that you don’t waste any time once you’re on their time. And if you’re thinking about recording the session, you’ll want to ask ahead of time because not every coach allows it.