Thou shalt get a poker coach

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Editor’s note: This is one in a series.

Poker is a game where success is measured in money and the game is more competitive than ever. Odds are you don’t have a poker coach, and that is a leak.

Major League Baseball players were coached from a young age with countless hours of practice and preparation. Try to imagine a team without a manager and a coaching staff.

Like baseball, poker is a game of decisions. A poker coach should help guide students to a better decision-range. As poker players, it’s not hard to equate strong decisions with more profit.

I approach coaching poker from the standpoint of plugging leaks. I have coached more than a hundred players and have yet to find two who had the same leaks.

On the table, leaks often can be attributed to a sound player getting away from fundamentals. This falls into the category of decision-making. If our decisions are not our best, I put this in the tilt category. Tilt is not anger. Tilt is simply not following through on what we know is the best decision.

A player might be playing tired. He takes corrective action by cutting down on his length of sessions and, presto, his hourly rate increases dramatically.

A good coach should be able to ferret out this behavior. In this case, not going from work to the casino, the player’s results changed simply by changing a habit. He simply cut back and earned more. Imagine that. How does this happen? Fewer mistakes equals better hourly rate. (Brement’s theorem)

Off the table, habits often are what really separate good players from great ones. This is exemplified in professional sports. Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in NFL history, was first to practice and last to leave. If you, as a poker player, want to take it to the next level, start thinking about your off-the-table disciplines.

The best thing you can do to uplift your game is start a weekly poker group. We had a group for more than five years that only broke off after I moved. In the mean time, find yourself a coach and watch your game grow.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima Community College. Email him at pokermoses@phxpoker.com.