The famous last words of almost every aspiring professional poker player are, “I don’t need to read poker books or enlist a poker coach/mentor.” Nonsense! Nearly all of the best professionals are constantly working to improve their game. They do this by educating themselves about their own strengths and weaknesses. This can come through books and analytical self analysis of their play. Quite commonly a much more effective method, and one used by many top professionals, is to use a poker mentor or coach. A poker coach is someone who you enlist on a contract basis to teach you more advanced strategies and who will evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. A poker mentor is very similar to a poker coach, the main difference being that you do not pay a poker mentor in cash, rather in reciprocated mentor services. This can be a great tool for a professional poker player to have.
Honesty is the best policy….that’s what your parents always told you. The same principle should apply when speaking to your poker mentor. You should therefore choose your poker mentor very carefully. Make sure you are willing to speak honestly about your strategies, hand play history, and most importantly, the holes in your game. Fixing these holes is the fundamental reason you enlisted a poker mentor in the first place. You should also be willing to discuss your own hand ranges and aggression factors. This is all very private stuff to the poker professional, but you need to make a commitment that this won’t be the case with your poker mentor. Be honest with yourself and be honest with your poker mentor!
As poker players, it can be very difficult to ‘see the forest, for the trees’. This is another place that poker mentors can come in handy. Often times, very serious mistakes in your game can appear mundane or go unnoticed to you as a player in the thick of it. These mistakes will pop out to your mentor. Make sure you take copious notes about the hands that you play. The good, the bad, and the ugly. You should also keep a poker journal to be able to more intelligently discuss your previous plays with your mentor. Make sure you are able to answer ‘why’ you made a specific raise, call, or fold. This is absolutely necessary for your mentor to be able to objectively criticize your various poker plays.
When poker players discuss strategy with one another honestly and quantitatively, both the mentor and the player advance their own skills. As you force yourself to analyze another person’s play objectively, you make gears turn in your head that were previous unmoving.
Ego is the number one killer of poker players. It affects poker decisions at the deepest and most fundamental level. Keeping the ego out of your game is much easier said than done. Leaving emotions, especially ego, out of your poker game is absolutely necessary in order to reach your maximum profit per hour potential. It is especially critical while listening to advice given by your poker mentor. Remember, it is their job to help you and their comments should always be interpreted in that light. This applies to poker players at all levels, ranging from your Sunday kitchen table player to the hardened professional. All poker players have holes that negatively affect their hourly win rate which can be fixed. So check your ego at the door and get yourself a poker mentor!
Written By: Jason Bloom
June 22, 2015