Learning to teach

Life is good. I just got back from the French Riviera where I went with my girlfriend after spending five weeks at the WSOP in Las Vegas. It was a very relaxing time there on the coast, just resting and not playing any poker at all.

But now that I'm back home in Belgium I'm thinking a lot about poker again and not only improving my own game but that of others, too. For a while I have been thinking about ways to help my fellow Belgian poker players improve their games, including providing a context in which to coach players.

Perhaps not surprisingly my brother and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Matthias and I have what you might call a "poker environment" here in our apartment. There are computer screens everywhere and it's obviously a place where a lot of poker is played. We have started inviting other players over to offer coaching and try to help them become better, kind of setting up little three-day "boot camps" to do so, and that has been a lot of fun thus far.

Talking about poker and trying to communicate ideas about poker not only helps the students, but it can also be very helpful for yourself, too, because it forces you to think about the concepts you are discussing more directly and from a different perspective. So we're benefiting, too, from these interactions.


In order to coach others, you have to have complete knowledge of whatever it is you are instructing them about. You have to be ready to answer every question and not be in the situation of not knowing how to respond or putting your foot in your mouth when trying to explain things to your students.

A mistake a lot of players make is to play and play and play without ever thinking or reflecting on the game or what they are doing, and that kind of study that is really necessary in order to reach the next level. That's true of poker and true of just about any endeavor in life, because getting help from someone who is more knowledgeable about whatever you're doing is always going to be beneficial.

Matthias and I have enjoyed getting involved with this sort of coaching so far, and we're thinking of moving forward by creating our own website and expanding the coaching idea further. We've already begun setting up some coaching strategies for novice players, advanced players, and expert players, developing different approaches that work for each group.

There is perhaps a danger in coaching others to the point where you later meet them at the tables and they beat you. But I think the positives of coaching outweigh this potential hazard, both because we're helping drive up the level of competition and because of what I was mentioning earlier about the teacher also benefitting from explaining concepts to students.

There are a lot of good players in Belgium already. We had two Belgian players earn their second WSOP bracelets this summer -- Davidi Kitai and Michael Gathy -- which wasn't bad at all, and players from Belgium did well on the EPT last year, too.

But Belgium is still somewhat underrepresented as far as European countries go, and we'd like to help change that. We can get even better!

So watch out poker world... the Belgians are coming!