April 24, 2013
Poker coaching is a tough area for me to be objective on given that I coach poker. However, what it also does is allow me to see events and trends unfold from the other side of the dynamic. I've always been upfront about what I personally believe should exist between coach and student. I don't believe a coach should charge more than their winrate - in fact they should charge less. I don't believe coaches should flog ebooks and mass coaching sessions. That is my opinion, and it might be the wrong one. I'm willing to entertain the idea that I might be wrong about almost anything and that is something the wrong kind of coach won't do. Lets look at the reasons why:
A good coach:
Makes money from coaching
Is interested in the progress of the client
Charges less than their winrate
Enables a flow of information to and from the student
Doesn't have an ebook
Doesn't do group coaching
A bad coach:
Makes money from coaching
Is interested in making as much money as possible from a client
Charges more than their winrate
Information flows in one direction only
Has an ebook (and is always writing another)
Sells group coaching
Employs adverts, listings and shills
What's the point of pointing all of this out? It's so I can go, shit Tim, you don't do any of those bad things, god dammit you're the best darn coach there is, obviously.
In reality it's because bad coaches reflect badly on all coaches and it generally pains me to see how much of this nefarious activity is going on in all corners of the pokerverse. If the Council of Poker* turned to me and said "Tim, you suck, and we'd appreciate if you didn't coach any more". That would be a bummer but it would be fine. Coaching is not a crutch or a revenue stream. If you take coaching away from a bad coach it's like chopping a head off a hydra. First they would writhe around in pain and a pile of vile goo and then another head would re-grow, different and yet the same to the last.
In my inbox this morning I received an email with the following subject line: "X Releases How To Crush Online Poker in 2013". Only $59! This is the epitome of bullshit. This is the problem writ large. It's designed to attack a very specific market and it's using crude methodology to achieve its aims. It's using the words "crush" and "2013" to make it appear as though the reader will "crush" (what does that even mean? I'm not sure, but it sounds awesome, right?) and "2013" to make it seem like this is a tome of new important poker infos that only and crucially applies to the right now! So buy! Buy! Buy! Buy! But wait, hold on. If this bible of excrement can enable us to "crush" online poker, shouldn't it cost a lot more than $59? Doesn't that mean everyone with $59 will be able to crush and how can we all crush simultaneously?
Earlier in the week I happened upon a discussion where an NL2 player was trying to construct near GTO ranges for his play. At NL2. This is another part of the problem brought on by the emergence of GTO as a buzz-acronym. Lets image we're new to poker and we want to do things right (if we assume "right" means, make some money from poker). Learning near GTO strategies off the bat is not going to help you**.
Eventually poker players should come to the rational realisation that there are only two books they need to invest in (by invest I don't just mean monetarily). The Mathematics of Poker, by Chen and Ankenman and Elements of Poker, by Tommy Angelo. If you've played enough poker to be successful, you will able to extrapolate from those two sources everything that you need. There's nothing wrong with getting help along the way, whether it's from friends or coaches, but have the awareness that no one can sell you a magic poker pill.
If you want some of the content of Mathematics broken down into more manageable chunks, that material exists, in a couple of accessible places. You should be able to start intuitively creating your own CREV sims and your own equations to solve for different scenarios. I too have been guilty of just waiting to be told this kind of information. Definitely use helpful video series and talk to helpful people to further your understanding of how to do it, but you can do it all yourself.
What we can see in the wild now however is coaches piggybacking the GTO surge and this is bad because it enables them to use the general confusion surrounding GTO to further their own ends. GTO is a thing. It should be admired, respected and studied. But GTO lingo can used as smoke and mirrors. They can use GTO as an excuse to not enter into a proper dialogue so that what you end up with is this, over and over:
There are of course exceptions to the rule. If and when Sauce releases an ebook, I will snap it up. I will shove my dollars into his open maw. There are always exceptions to the rule. If you want to be the exception, you had better make damn sure that you are exceptional.
As it is we don't know what true GTO play looks like. Something like this, perhaps.
* I don't know who would be on the Council of Poker. In my mind it's Ivey, Sauce, Tommy Angelo and Jim Bergerac. Your council may vary.
** Unless you are extremely mathematically gifted. In which case just create a toy game for whatever you want to solve rather than faffing around at NL2.
/ So, shut up and
buy my new book
send more money /