Why You Should Coach Poker & How to Get Started
I think that all poker players should become coaches — at least in the beginning of their career. While there are several benefits to becoming a coach, two that stick out most in my mind would include the additional income, and the opportunity to improve as a poker player yourself. I’ve shed more light on both of these reasons, as well as how to get started, below.
Reason #1 — Make an Additional Income Coaching
My first reason why you should get involved with coaching is so that you can make an additional income. This little bit extra can help keep you afloat during downswings, and it can help you to buy tools or even some hourly coaching for yourself.
The amount you can earn is really up to you. It’s damn near limitless though. On the low end, you can charge something like $25 an hour and do a couple hours a week for an extra $200 a month. As you improve and your hourly goes up, say to $50, that same couple hours a week will then net you $400-$500. Not bad at all.
Tip: A great way to avoid having hourly coaching take up your precious free time is to schedule coaching during the times you would review your own hand histories. You can go over one of your hand histories, and then one of the student’s. It’s almost as if you are being paid to review your own games this way.
Of course, you can scale up. Instead of doing a couple hours a week, maybe do a couple hours a day Monday thru Friday. This 10 hours a week will earn you $250-$500 a week, or $1,000-$2,000 a month depending on what you charge.
Believe it or not, coaching can even be taken further. Say after doing a couple months worth of hourly coaching you built yourself up a nice side bankroll. Now, take that bankroll and invest some of it into a couple horses. Coach each of them for an hour or two a week, and cut up the profits 60/40 in your favor.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you see by now how profitable coaching can be. Even as a newer player only playing the $5-$20 level, or 50nl to 100nl, there are plenty of players (students/customers) playing the stakes below you that would like to receive coaching so that they can quickly improve and move up.
Reason #2 — Grow as a Poker Player
The second reason I have for becoming a coach is really the most important reason of all — you become a better poker player.
I’m sure your first thought is, how — right? After all, you’re coaching players that are at levels below you. What could they possibly know that you can benefit from?
I asked myself this too when I got started in coaching. I quickly found that my game improved dramatically. Looking back on my experiences now, it’s easy to see why.
See, one of the things you do when coaching other players is look at the spots that you feel they’re playing incorrectly, or maybe not as optimally as they could be. This gives you the opportunity to get inside your student’s head, improving your perception as to how other players think.
Another thing you do is discuss strategies, whether it’s broad, like for a certain period of a tournament or cash game, or something more specific like on the flop, turn or river. This adds more to your ever growing arsenal of moves to make.
However, the times I felt like I got the most out of coaching students is when they asked me why; why do I feel they played a spot wrong, why raise here instead of flat, why fold instead of raise, etc. This benefits you because it forces you to have a reason for everything you do. When you play your own games, that’ll start to become a habit — everything you do will have a reason behind it. This is how you should be playing poker, as opposed to playing a more robotic style.
Overall, you’ll find that coaching other players will dramatically improve your own abilities. Your confidence will increase, and you’ll become more thoughtful. Both are attributes of winning players.
How to Get Started Coaching Other Poker Players
Getting started in coaching other poker players is pretty easy. But before I tell you where to go and what to do, let’s first discuss qualifications.
The one thing that bothers me the most is when players have like 500 games under their belt and then start to charge for coaching. While I feel that even beginner poker players should coach for the reasons I gave above, you should still strive to provide value. This means to provide something useful, such as strategies, or tips for certain situations. All of this comes from experience — 500 games (or hands) is hardly what I’d call experience. That’s a day or two for a lot of veterans.
I would wait until you have something along the lines of 2,500 to 5,000 games (tournaments) under your belt, or maybe 250k to 500k hands. That way you actually have a small bit of volume under your belt, and you can be sure that you’re profitable. It’s also handy to have this data to show when trying to get some students.
Finding Students to Coach
Ok, so time to find your first student. You can do this a couple of ways:
Let your peers know that you are looking for a students. They’ll pass the word around, as well as put in a good word. You can probably expect to see a few players come your way within a couple of weeks.
Another option is to post on a forum such as Part Time Poker (PTP). They have a forum designated for coaches offering their services and players looking for coaches.
What you want to do here is create a thread and outline all the details such as your history/experience, rates, games/stakes you’re willing to coach and how you should be contacted. You might also mention payment details, and any discounts you might give.
Something else you can try (I haven’t done it) is buy an ad on a poker website. I would imagine that you can find a site that will sell you a spot for something like $25 a month. Just make sure to test your results to see if you’re actually getting any students using this method. If so, continue with the ad. You might ask if they offer discounts for paying in advance (like 6-months).
Those are a couple of ideas off the top of my head, and should be enough to get you started. You can easily snowball your efforts here by asking all of your students (and past coaches, peers, etc) to leave you some feedback in your coaching threads. Other potential students will see it and won’t hesitate to contact you to book some hourly coaching. Easy game.