Why I’m glad I hired a poker coach, Part 2

I was thrilled to get some pointers on my first-ever blog post. I always love constructive help, so here is my second post on hiring a poker coach.

The first thing I learned from my poker coach Jeff Madsen was that I didn’t know 9/10ths of what I thought I knew about tournament poker. As a confused player, it was a great learning curve for me. Jeff Madsen said not to write everything down, but when would I ever have another chance like this? I was going to savor every moment as though it were a college class on tournament poker. Plus, since I spent a lot of money on this class, I want to preserve it.

Here are some highlights from my poker coaching experience.

  1. Jeff said I was timid in my betting. You can bet your sweet dollar that doesn’t happen every day to Motorcycle Mary. People are timid when they are uncertain about what to do – and that was me. I learned that I needed to think about math, logic, and position first and those would clear up uncertainty. I used to bet the hand according to the hand. Now I use position and ranges and am still trying to be consistent on that.

2. There’s no time clock, and I do not have to “bet/answer” immediately. I can take time to evaluate my position and look at all the avenues that I may have available to me. Are the odds with me that I can make more money out of this pot? Was that one limper or 7 because that will determine how much I am going to bet. Sometimes, I may have to run a couple of scenarios in my head, and that can take time. I will not be a time-waster, but I will fully weigh my stack, the pot, the position, the players, the odds (still working on that one.)

3. I now know how to play short-stack poker from both sides — when I am short stacked and when opponents are short stacked. What is short-stacked? If you have 10 BB or less, you are very short stacked. If you are short-stacked, the writing is on the wall and you need to look for a value hand and shove. You still might lose, but it will be on your terms, and you stand a better chance to win with a value hand.

4. I learned to track my big blinds during a tournament. Jeff taught me how to play each level of a tournament from each position according to my BB stack and my position.

5. Each player that enters the pot decreases your odds by 10 percent — one of those silly but significant numbers that stick with you.

6. I can now begin to figure out what others might have in their hands and why they are betting the way they do

7. It is valuable to listen to podcasts, watch videos and read about poker. It is a different animal when you have the coach evaluate your tournament hand history of a tournament and learn what he agrees with and what he does not. It is very eye-opening — especially the time I thought I had saved the best four 4 hands of the game but instead sent him the whole tournament. And it’s a good thing I did. I still have so much to learn.

8. During our last session I about had a heart attack when Jeff said he had a small test. The test consisted of him giving a position and my hand and I had to explain what would I do. never thought I would be explaining hands to someone who has four WSOP Bracelets and has made 13 Final Tables. But I did a pretty darn good job and realized what a boost coaching has made in my poker power.

9. Board texture is so important. It tells me how to rank myr hand and directs my plan of action. Texture guides bet sizing and how to build a pot in a calculated way.

10. I’m going to lose some hands. It’s poker. If I play my hand to the best of my ability and lose, so be it. I also learned that what happens in one hand does not affect the next hand. When I lose, I don’t need to tilt. Life goes on. I’ll win it back one day.

I am convinced of the financial benefit of hiring a coach. I can see two or three good hands paying for the coaching sessions with a lifetime of poker gravy from here on. I could have spent the next 30 years not even knowing what my leaks are and how to correct them. Now I will make more money and lose much less than I paid for the course. It was the best educational money I ever spent (OK, the Missouri Auction School also ranks up there.)

As with everything else in life, take from the sessions what you need but heed the rest as they may apply one day.

Was my coach worth it? I paid Jeff to teach me skills that I never even knew existed about a game that I just cannot get enough of. Because of coaching. I no longer dread that first time sitting at a table full of good players. I may not be the best, but I have a great baseline to start.

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