COACHED UP: Some of game’s best offer views on poker coaching

Maybe you’re one of those poker players who has found success. You’ve done well in live poker and also play here and there online. You’re a recreational player and have had some nice results. You’ve made enough to pay for a few vacations or maybe a big night out with friends.

But you’ve always thought there was more to be had. If you focused more, devoted additional time to playing, and were able to move up to higher stakes, you could turn some decent regular wins into a more steady stream of income. Whether a tournament player or a cash gamer, BPC is there to help. But what do others think about coaching in general as well as online coaching? We spoke with some pros who offered their views on the subject.


Poker Brat

One of the best-known poker players in the world, 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth believes coaching can help players – in the right circumstances. Hellmuth is the author of two new books: his autobiography “Poker Brat” was released last summer; and his new book “#POSITIVITY: You Are Always In The Right Place At The Right Time” was also recently released.

While many may know him from his “Poker Brat” image, Hellmuth tries to keep a positive outlook and is very goal-centered, which are some things he touches on in the book. When it comes to coaching, Hellmuth believes training and practice go hand in hand, and players must be committed to do both to succeed. That also depends on selecting the right coach.


“I think online coaching can help everyone, assuming that you have a great coach!” he says. “Practice, practice, practice, and debating hands with really smart people is what improves my game.”


Hellmuth, who has $22.3 million in live tournament winnings, pointed to a 2017 trip to the L.A. Poker Classic where he and a few friends developed a coaching-type relationship that paid big dividends.


“I made the trip with two friends to play for nine days, and we talked seven hours a day about poker,” he says. “And went deep in a bunch of events.”


In the end, Hellmuth finished runner-up in the $1,100 2-7 Single Draw event for $9,720 and then followed that up with a win heads-up against Mike “The Mouth” Matusow in the $ 1,100 Limit Omaha/Stud 8 or Better event for $25,200. It was a nice few days of action, and Hellmuth credits some of that friendly coaching in game in gear and his mind right for that trip to Los Angeles.


WPT Dominator

Darren Elias is on one of the best players in the world. In May at the Aria in Las Vegas, he locked up a record fourth World Poker Tour title in the Bobby Baldwin Classic for $387,580. His lifetime tournament winnings now top $6.2 million.

When it comes to coaching, Elias believes it can help players at all levels. However, he says it’s important for a player to find a coach that matches up well with his or her learning style as well as at the appropriate skill level. He is also a believer in online coaching in general, in terms of running through various hands and strategies.


“A super high-level coach working with a beginning player would be a waste of time for all parties involved, as well as the reverse scenario,” he says. “I would guess that a majority of the poker coaching done nowadays is done online through video chat software. With so much distance between potential students and coaches and the ability to run software and share screens online, it makes a lot of sense.”

While he believes coaching can help players, he’s not convinced every good poker player makes for a good coach. Elias worked as a coach about five years ago. He found it an interesting experience, but didn’t particularly enjoy it and doesn’t see himself returning to the coaching world.

“Not all great players will be great coaches,” he says. “A lot of what top players do comes from intuition and experience, which is very difficult to teach. I think that certain styles of play are easier to be teach, and sometimes players who aren’t necessarily elite in the poker world can be great coaches and be very helpful to students.”


Life’s a Gamble

Nathan Gamble has been on a huge run since last summer at the World Series of Poker. In 2017, he won the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo event for $223,339. And this summer, he got close to making it back-to-back wins, finishing 10th for $13,429. He then followed that up with an 18th-place finish in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo – Championship for $18,631.

The 28-year-old Texan specializes in Omaha and other mixed games, and believes coaching can be a huge help for players looking to work on their skills. He points to work with a friend recently that improved his own game.


“We met about six months ago and we don’t have a coaching relationship, however we have a very symbiotic relationship with how we approach the game,” he says. “And I think a large aspect is a mental game. I’ve heard it from the Fedor Holtz and all those guys.”


Gamble says coaching helps players think about every hand and every situation. It also helps players think ahead.


“Don’t worry about where you were a minute ago, worry about where you are now,” he says. “I think coaching from that aspect is absolutely paramount.”


Daniel Negreanu’s Master Class

Some of the best players in the game believe in coaching. Daniel Negreanu has $39.6 million in live tournament winnings and six WSOP bracelets. He recently announced that he has joined the roster of coaches. The site features experts in their fields offering training in everything from photography with Annie Liebowitz to film directing with Ron Howard.

Negreanu will be offering strategy and advice learned from his own training in recent years, much of which he has credited from other players coaching him.


“In this Master Class I’m going to share things that I’ve actually never shared before,” he says in the video trailer for the class. “Poker is an intellectual endeavor that is totally skill-based in the long run.”

He adds: “One of the absolute best ways to learn is to go over a hand in-depth in a hand breakdown.”


The BPC Option

Even the best players who play regularly at the highest stakes recognize the need for coaching and working on strategy. From bluffs to tells to bet sizing, players like these have even worked with others on their own games.

No doubt, BPC students get plenty of hand analysis and strategy, as recommended by Negreanu, and many have reaped major rewards from that coaching and training. No matter your skills or stakes, coaching can be a major benefit and help move those profit levels up and transition from an occasional winner to a proven winner.

Want to give it a shot? BPC has many free tools for players to get started. In the BPC Free Resources section, there are plenty of options to help. Some of those include a Poker Equity Calculator, free eBooks, free charts, and more.

Take a test-drive of just a few of the things BPC has to offer. If you’re ready for more, the coaches are ready to help.

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