The World Poker Tour has launched a new online training site called LearnWPT and Lee Davy gives his initial impressions of the site, and offers a wider opinion on the online training market.
I recently asked some poker players at the top of their game whether they have lost more money through technical failures or emotional ones.
How do you think that answer trended?
I had known the answer before I asked. Technical skills are always going to be easier to master than emotional skills. It’s as obvious in poker as it is in life. And true to form that was the feedback I received. The very best poker players have lost more money due to emotional failings than technical ones.
Now let’s follow that logic.
If the top players are losing more money through emotional leaks, and they are the best in the game because they have found the right balance between work, rest, and play. Then how did they plug those leaks? Why didn’t they drown?
The World Poker Tour Launches an Online Training Site
The World Poker Tour (WPT) has created a school for poker called LearnWPT. Presently, the only coach is Nick Binger. Viewers need to leave their e-mail address to gain access to two free videos (Pre-Flop Raise Sizing, and Board Texture), and a further ten videos that will be unlocked if you become a fully paid member of the school.
The school promises to produce at least two new videos per week. Membership will set you back $5 for the first month, and then $29 for each month that follows. I have watched the first two videos and the theory seems geared to the beginner player. And so I think the fees are acceptable.
What About The Competition?
IveyPoker offers a basic plan containing 36 videos; a Bachelors Plan costing $9 per month, and a Masters Plan for $75 per month. Once again, for the beginner, I believe $9 per month is a good price IF the videos are regularly updated and are of a high quality.
RunItOnce offers a similar three-tier structure. The Basic Plan is free; the Essential Plan is $9.99 per month. The Elite Plan is $99.99 per month. I think this plan offers, even more, value than IveyPoker. The Essential Plan is a decent price; there are videos from 32 Essential Pros and a guarantee of at least one video per month from Phil Galfond.
Gripsed Poker offers a lot of free content, free live streaming and interaction, a better community feel, and one to one coaching with their lead instructors with prices starting around $400 per hour. I would begin my life as a new poker player here because there is plenty of free material and the ability to interact with the coaches via live stream.
Now back to the WPT.
Is The WPT Going Down The Right Route?
I don’t think so. But to be fair, I think most of the online training sites miss the point when it comes to providing a coaching experience for the players.
It seems as if the WPT’s focus is on the beginner. I like that. It makes sense. The televised coverage of the WPT is poker’s most popular gateway drug so to speak. It makes sense that once you have lured the fish into their tributary that there is a next stage process.
The learning section is perfect in this regard because once the new player has watched the action on TV, he or she is going to need to understand how to play the game, and then be directed to where he or she can play the game.
And this is where the WPT can improve.
I would go back much further than Pre Flop Raise Sizing (Episode 2). Nick and the team need to think about the worldview of a prospect who has recently arrived in the training camp with relatively little understanding of the game.
There is so much information that a player needs to learn before they get to pre-flop raising. Does the player even know what pre-flop means? Do they know what a raise is? Do they understand what the blinds are? Do they know who gets to go first?
Now if the WPT are not aiming at this demographic, then they should stop before they begin.
Training Plans For Beginners
I played around with this idea when I was a member of BlueFire Poker back when Galfond was the lead pro. Back then, I couldn’t find a one-stop shop training plan to take an interested observer all the way to professional status.
The fault with the training sites lies in the autonomy given to the coaches. There doesn’t seem to be any rules or direction regarding content creation. Very often, a training video involves a coach recording their play and talking through their thought process. If I were running an online training site, I would figure out what my client’s roadblocks were and then create a series of videos designed to remove them.
Now they may get there by default.
However, this approach leads to a lot of videos focusing on a lot of different concepts without the stitching required to piece them together in chronological order for the beginning player. I would love to see a video series like this. I would pay for it. I wouldn’t be alone.
The WPT have an excellent opportunity to do this as it seems the competition is designed to attract the top tier pro.
But first, they have to go back to basics.
They need to see the world through the eyes of their customer.
Take me for example. Let’s say I wanted to learn poker from scratch and become efficient enough at it to win regularly.
• What is my life like?
• Where do I live?
• How old am I?
• Who do I hang out with?
• What forms of learning do I connect with best?
• Do I have a family?
• What is my income?
• How much of that income do I have available for poker?• Where do I play?
• Where can I play?
• How much time do I have to play?
• What are my poker goals?
• What is standing in the way of me achieving them?
You need to answer questions like this, and much more before you can start providing something that your customers want and need.
LearnWPT feels like a training site created to be sold to someone and not a training site designed to fulfil a need that a market has expressed needs filling. And they are not alone when it comes to beginners. I think they all miss the boat. And perhaps they do so deliberately. Maybe their entire product is geared towards intermediate and pro players. But even then they are still missing a critical part of the learning process.
In the first free training video that I watched on LearnWPT, Nick Binger said that a big mistake most players make was not having a game plan and instead playing their hands street by street. He said that making decisions in a vacuum creates stress and anxiety and removes the fun out of poker.
I agree with him entirely.
And yet, Binger and all the coaches before him have not widened their thinking on this. They are looking at poker training in a vacuum. They are not looking at the bigger picture. They are focusing on one part of the game, and it’s not even the most critical.
Remember at the beginning of this article. I reminded you that the top professionals in the game had confessed they lost more money through emotional leaks than technical ones.
Why aren’t poker coaches teaching players how to plug those holes?
Why aren’t the online training sites filled with articles, videos, and coaching on how to improve emotional control, wellness, and mindfulness? Why allow your client to go somewhere else for that knowledge?
Online training sites need to think holistically about the way their clients need coaching. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the coaches are great players and not necessarily great coaches.
LearnWPT has an excellent opportunity to start teaching these core concepts immediately. Binger can’t manage this site on his own. He needs help, and when it comes, it should come in the form of coaches who know how to fix emotional leaks as well as technical ones.
Interactivity and Community
Another area where I believe LearnWPT can improve is the way they deliver their material. The two videos I watched were 99% lecture based. It was Binger’s head with a puke inducing blue background. During the video on Pre Flop Raising, I was expecting cut sequences to live action on the WPT circuit. It didn’t arrive.
I think the WPT have followed the pattern of previous online training sites instead of considering if this is a convenient way for their clients to consume media?
Twitch and other live stream broadcasts are the future. They are entertaining, but most importantly they are interactive. You don’t have to post a question in the forum and wait for an answer. You can hit the coach right there and then and this is why it’s so popular. The live stream is the way forward.
And this brings me to my final point. I can’t remember the WPT ever having a WPT Team Pro concept. I think that can change now they have LearnWPT. They should create a roster of players who can coach holistically and let them loose on Twitch with a game plan to deliver poker training in the most entertaining way possible. Create a community and use that community to canvas opinion, figure out their problems, and find unique ways to solve them.
“A good game plan helps you have fun and reduces stress.” Says Binger.
Now go back to the WPT ask them for one.