Coach DGAF

A long time ago, this kid was trying to transition from online poker to live poker– but he was basically just spinning his wheels in the red chip games at my local casino. So he asked me for coaching. He was a nice enough kid, and I had always been a pleaser/say “yes” to everyone (and everything) sucker, so we met in the bar and he paid me $100 for one hour of coaching/talking…

I wasn’t the variance expert/fanatic I am now back then, so I wasn’t able to tell him, “Just run good, you idiot… Just have it when they go for it. If you are going to make a simultaneous flush, set or straight- make the bigger one. Make sure they show up with the bottom of their range when you are bluffing, and make sure they always have enough to pay you off when you have the nuts. Get dealt a lot of good hole cards, have them match up with the community cards often, and don’t be stupid- win flips!”

Instead I corrected one simple yet huge flaw (raising too small after limpers- they don’t have a lot of limpers online) and gave him some probably much needed confidence by telling him, “Live poker is a joke- even the big games. Never be intimidated because everyone is terrible- even if they look like they are good…”

That was 5+ years ago. The kid (now a man) is probably at this very moment getting a long massage and drinking a jumbo Panna water in the biggest No Limit game going at Commerce Casino… You know how many people make it to “the big game” and stay there for 5 years? None… Well OK, I made a rounding error. Very, very, very few do. It takes an elaborate combination of skills and good fortune (and probably a good amount of crazy) to make it even 3 years…

 

The moment I saw my student in “the big game” at my local casino (adios red chips), taking real money out of the pool that I was feeding my kids with/spoiling them like crazy with, I knew I had done fucked up. It had been only a few weeks since we’d met in the bar for the $100 pep talk, and all I could do was smile at my dumbness (I also smiled because this kid is one of the very few unwaveringly pure hearts in poker, and he is always smiling himself at the table- rare AF).

I guess I ran hot in that I really like the ONE kid I coached (for ONE hour). Otherwise I would likely feel much worse about my very dumb decision to help him…

 

Poker is a zero sum game that depends on a TON of edge available/people not playing even close to decently. You don’t artificially improve the player pool- unless you are dumb (or a capitalist who doesn’t care about the future of the game/the community/your peers). You do what you can do to be good, you find/create/maintain good games, you maybe help a loved one here and there, you respect everyone else that plays (even if their behavior repulses you), and you never ever ever do anything to make the games worse.

 

^^^ is the code. Or it least it used to be/should be…

When games get worse- because the player pool improves from terrible to decent, variance becomes the only winner (players on heaters will scoff at this, but those who run bad prob just sat up straight in their seats). Eventually poker dries up, from the top down…

“The big game” at my local casino goes 2 days a week now- sometimes, it used to go 7 days a week- always. And those red chip games- where any idiot (without a major flaw in his game) used to be able to churn out some funds if he ran anything but horrific, those things are often unbeatable (for real money) grind fests these days.

 And ^^^ is the scene just about everywhere, because money got tighter and people evolved as poker players via repetition, but mostly because just about everyone who currently plays poker got coached (either individually or via training sites)

 

Note: Staking and poaching have also been pretty brutal for poker/huge artificial improvers of the player pool- but those are rants for another day…

 

I have been asked to coach many times since I helped that kid– who likely would have risen anyways (probably it would have taken longer though), but maybe would have gotten sick of spinning his wheels in those red chip games and just given up (and likely done something better with his life/for “the big game” player pool for sure). Each time I have basically just said, “Sorry, I don’t believe in it. Even if I could make enough money to justify potentially making the games I play in worse (probably not)- I’m not going to do poker/the community/my peers dirty like that.”

 

Note: I have no love for most of my peers- only respect…

 

Well, I’ve gone back on my word. Being broke/in debt/owing many people/stressed as all hell/desperate to make changes in my life (that require money)/etc has finally made me cave. It made me a damn hypocrite. I fucking coach now…

Our first practice was amazing. 6-8 year old girls are just beacons in general. Smart, ambitious, happy, and ready to learn… I spent a lot of time planning for the season and created folders for each player- filled with team rules (basically just show up on time and have fun), drills for practice, and even an offense I came up with called “The Motorcycle Offense”.

Spacing is a huge issue/obstacle in youth sports- I knew that going in. I was trying to think what might click in a young girl’s head to remember to never get too close to her teammates on offense. I was going to say, “Always stay a pony away from your teammates on offense,” but then I thought the girls might start daydreaming about ponies and forget they were playing basketball (I imagined beautiful passes bouncing off heads instead of landing in hands). So I came up with a motorcycle as the imaginary object that should always be between each girl on offense (at the very minimum). It’s weird enough to click in their heads I thought- also motorcycles are fast and badass…

I don’t coach Pee Wee Girls basketball to not be fast and badass/to lose. I coach Pee Wee Girls basketball precisely to be fast and badass/to win, because being good is what is most fun about sports. And fun is the end goal (at least it should be) for all youth sports…

I asked the Pee Wee league representative before the season started if setting screens was allowed. She laughed at me and said, “Sure, good luck with that at this age though…”

I understood that a certain degree of mayhem was to be expected when coaching 6-8 year olds, but I believe in kids. I think kids (especially girls) are way smarter and way more capable of great things/ready for responsibility than most adults give them credit for…

 

We practiced once a week on half a court in the middle of a multi-court gym packed with other teams- boys and girls of all ages. Each practice was surrounded by absolute chaos–> bouncing balls & running/screaming hoopsters EVERYWHERE… We did this for 4 weeks, an hour each week–> quick upbeat drills/stations (I added 2 assistant coaches) and then a scrimmage (against ourselves) running ONE play of “The Motorcycle Offense” over and over…

My daughter and the other Point Guard are great listeners (as are all the other girls in the other positions). They have 5 options where they can go with the ball on “Play 1”, and I tell them which option to look for each possession (otherwise the younger/smaller/shyer girls wouldn’t get the ball enough). They handle these specific/ever changing instructions expertly- at least in practice, they did…

I could tell the other parents (and the assistant coaches) thought I was a lunatic for trying to install an offense in Pee Wee basketball- and for being so organized with my various handouts and what not. I even had one assistant coach try to sabotage my offense/overall organization during our last practice before our first game (I had to dig deep to find some understanding for that one). Anyways, we played our first game last Saturday…

It was a fucking bloodbath.

Much to everyone’s surprise- EXCEPT MINE, we were a goddam well-oiled machine out there- one that is very fast and badass. We were a motorcycle… Every girl on the team was heavily involved throughout the game (the girls on the bench must cheer for the girls on the floor non-stop- coach’s orders), and their execution of “The Motorcycle Offense” would have legit made Brad Stevens smile…

We went up 18-0 right away in the first quarter… I quickly downshifted for the rest of the game (I had our Point Guards look for our youngest/smallest/shyest players a lot/we dropped way back on D/etc), and I only twisted the throttle a few more times the rest of the way- just whenever I felt like everyone in the gym needed to hear us hum…

I was standing the entire game, shouting (in a nice way) instructions to my genius Point Guards as they brought the ball up the floor. Then I’d just raise my arms up in a V, over and over, as the girls went down and executed. One girl launched a 3 that didn’t make it anywhere near halfway to the hoop, but other than that, it was beautiful basketball (even that was beautiful actually)…

Seeing my daughter fake left, go right, come off a high screen, overlook our wide open, unstoppable back-cutting Left Post (she already had plenty), not take her own wide open layup (she had plenty too), jump stop, pivot once and fake to the wide open Right Wing (the 3 point launcher), pivot again and fake to the Right Post/her screener/the most unselfish kid ever- who had rolled perfectly to her scoring spot, and then pivot one more time and find the cutting Left Wing (our smallest/youngest/shyest player by far, who could not reach the lowered hoop with the basketball for the first few practices)- exactly as I had shown her/instructed her to…

And then witnessing our Left Wing snatch the ball out of the air (and just decide it was her time apparently), take a few dribbles to the middle of the key, and then with all her might launch a majestic rainbow from 2 feet out- one that put life in slow motion as it swished through the hoop, completely silencing the gym (for once in its life) as the net swung backwards…

And then watching all the girls on our team run back smiling, with the Left Wing/future hoops star smiling the biggest and brightest of all- by a mile, and all the adults in the gym suddenly rising to their feet in unison (if they weren’t already there), as the silence erupted into a roar of cheering clapping,, laughing, and probably in at least a couple spots- crying…

It was just fucking beautiful, a scene I will never forget in my weird and windy, often dark- but seemingly brighter by the day, life…

There is a playground outside the gym and none of the girls (or their parents) wanted to leave it after the game. Everyone just wanted to stick around and talk about the game, how well each girl played, how much fun everyone had (especially our Left Wing), how goddamn good the team was- how we would no doubt destroy the Pee Wee Boys teams, etc…

 

Coaching/teaching is INSANELY rewarding– very well worth the hard work and long hours (and dealing with sometimes ridiculous parents) in my limited experience. I realize I ran insanely hot in the automated draft (I can’t run bad in everything- I’ve historically run pretty amazing with getting new/clean bowling shoes every time I go bowling too), but just like any poker luckbox on a heater, I’m gonna go ahead and feel great inside about my amazing results.

I highly recommend anyone looking for a little happiness/inner peace (aren’t we all?) try coaching (or teaching) at some point in his or her life…

Just not poker.

Gotta go now- game 2 in 30 minutes. I hate to say it, but the Magic are fucked…

Coach DGAF

 

Point Goddess:

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Categories Poker Life

3 thoughts on “Coach DGAF

  1. “Coaching/teaching is INSANELY rewarding- very well worth the hard work and long hours.” – Agreed. And i’d have a hard time believing poker coaches can say this

    Like

  2. I just started coaching (herding cats) my boy’s 5/6-year-old hoops team.

    It’s me and 8 kids that barely know how to dribble, shoot, or tie their shoes. 😬

    Any guidance is appreciated!

    Like

    1. Get assistant coaches. Give the kids one position. Make the offense simple (except for the Point Guard). Try to teach them to be more like girls.

      Like

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