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 There has been much debate recently over the poker coaching industry and, in particular, coaching advertisements on the world’s largest online poker forum, TwoPlusTwo. The debate has revolved around the view that ‘poker coaches should be winning players.’

On 5 January 2012, this thread emerged on the forums, bringing attention to Tri Nguyen and the marketing practices used by his website, DailyVariance.

ViniVici9568 on TwoPlusTwo was central to the debate, opposing many of the marketing methods used by those advertising poker coaching. In an interview with PokerUpdate, he explained: “Some of the coaches who have been struggling with the tougher games in the last few years have had less incentive to play poker, and inevitably have significantly lower win rates, despite still advertising themselves as players with high win rates, and outstanding results (even though much of their play was from years ago).”

Tri’s Online Poker Publishing Website –

Admittedly, Tri’s website is reminiscent of a ‘Buy this e-book and get rich fast’ ploy from the late 1990s, filled with classless testimonials and banners promising the ‘secrets the big winners don’t want you to know’. Although many in the community have defended Tri’s ability as a coach and praised his level of thinking–such as respected high stakes player Ben ‘Sauce123’ Sulsky–even more have criticized these marketing techniques, labelling them as a poor representation of the actual materials being sold.

Isaac ‘ike’ Haxton was one of those to criticise Tri’s ‘100K Coaching system’, saying directly to Tri, “You seem to be marketing your coaching system as a fall back plan for people who wanted to play poker for a living but failed.”

ViniVici9568 adds: “It’s one thing to have a few rogue guys who are taking advantage of a system, and it’s another thing for a guy to offer an entire coaching program that revolves around deceiving people into thinking that their coach brings them value.”

Criticising Other Coaches and Trusted Community Members

TwoPlusTwo moderator James ‘SplitSuit’ Sweeney and Poker Coach Jeremy ‘OldSchool’ Steinhausen both have sponsored advertisements on the cash game poker coaches sub forum, and both have been at the centre of outrage and questioning from many members of the forum.

OldSchool was lambasted for not having posted up-to-date results on his heavily marketed coaching thread. SplitSuit, the author of the “100k micro-stakes system”, has been criticised for results that don’t match the claims. Further, the premise of the book was laughed at. Winning $100k at the microstakes is near impossible–even for the very best of players.

Additionally, forum user ‘Perfection’ made a post detailing a previous real life meeting with SplitSuit in Vegas that indicates that the forum moderator has used his position of power and trust to heavily assist in flogging his materials and services.

 ‘Perfection’ said the following: “Two years ago I met Split (and KurtSF) in Vegas. I only briefly met Split whilst railing at the Rio. Kurt however stayed at our place for a few days. Kurt told me (and several others, though I’m not sure if they would remember a small conversation from two years ago) that when he had become a mod in uFR Split informed him that it was ‘worth $25k/yr in EV.’

This comment has always stuck in my head because I was a little naive at the time and couldn’t figure out how moderating a forum for free was worth $25k/yr. Maybe it was a throw away comment, but I think it’s more indicative of his attitude towards 2p2 and how he knows he probably gets more students because hes a mod (and thus implicitly supported by 2p2). “

Both coaches have since apologised for potentially misleading players, and have posted updated results in their respective threads. However, as of writing, ‘Oldschool’ has discontinued his coaching listing.

Community Anger

The reason so many are incensed is because coaches and sites like DailyVariance are misleading players, making a tidy living off a largely naïve player base, and sucking money out of the already wavering poker ecosystem.

Coaches should be completely honest and reasonably priced, that’s all that the community is asking for.

The situation ties in with wider concerns that many coaches on popular training sites are now losing players, or at least no where near as impressive winners as they once were.

If you were in the gym and had a fairly athletic physique and were approached by a young, overweight personal trainer with an offer to train you for $30 per hour, you probably would politely say no, but would be left little frustrated. Fair enough he may have the technical know-how to help you develop, but if he can’t look after his own game then why should you pay him to look after yours?

Poker is an ever evolving game where strategies are constantly changing and anyone charging to coach the game should be able to beat it, and prove that they can do so.

What good has come of this situation?

Despite the outrage, some positives have surfaced. According to the respected and ethically driven moderator ‘ChicagoRy’, TwoPlusTwo participation throughout the ‘scandal’ will likely lead to user driven changes in coaching advertisements.

Although the uproar on forums like TwoPlusTwo and LiquidPoker (where Tri Nguyen was also heavily flamed) will not force sites like thedailyvariance to change their marketing styles, it will raise awareness of the issue. Let’s hope the online community can help shape the poker coaching industry for the better.

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