Coaching part i

Perhaps inspired by the guys over at Poker Immersion or Jonathan Little coaching Steve Begleiter at the Main Event, I agreed to do some coaching the last couple of weeks. I have to say it's been a great experience. Maybe one day I'll open a poker school. The person I'm working with is already one of the top players, in my opinion, locally and I think I am able to learn quite a bit from him. Teacher is the student?

Well, he approached me because he recognized a skill set that I possess and one that he wants to add to his game. He's a voracious reader and he's already burned through a book I thought could help him out. It's interesting because I had some trepidation in starting this process. This wasn't anything like hand selection, aggression, or any of a myriad of poker skills that he already possessed, though we do discuss those things, no this was about reads.

He's played with me and seen me make some tough calls and has been very flattering about my ability to read other players. And that's true, I put a lot of stock in my ability to decipher if my opponent has a hand or not. When I'm wrong I can lose a big pot, when I'm right I win big ones. I've laid down some huge cash hands I shouldn't have because of misreads, but I've also dragged some huge pots with A or K high.

I still regret a decision not to call an opponent down post-flop when I figured my opponent to be on a draw and the only one out there was a low straight draw. My gut said call with Jack high no pair. I told him as much and he looked frightened. This was heads up at a tournament. I didn't pull the trigger and he later confided I had him dead to rights.

In fact, it's those kinds of hands where I don't listen to my gut that I suffer. I'll figure out a moderate river call should be made because I just have to be wrong one time out of five and I'll make money over the long run, this despite knowing I'm beat and when I make the call my opponent will flip over exactly what I thought she or he had.

Why the fear? A couple of reasons, I don't think any poker player wants to be an open book about why they make the decisions they do. Some of the things I rely on as being accurate 90% of the time could easily be flipped and used against me. So there is a trust factor. 60% to 80% of what I've learned is from a book or from experience but the rest is kind of innate. How do I teach that?

I read people who are good at detecting lies are people that pick up on tiny pieces of body language sub-consciously, so they might not be able to identify why they don't trust the speaker consciously but they know. The same is true in poker. That's why when your gut or a "feeling" suggests you call and you are good at sniffing out bullshit you should call. But, again how do I teach that?

To be continued...
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