Poker pro and coach Josha Matthewman answers 5 basic questions from Getcoach about his poker career, coaching goals and regular life.
1. How long ago did you learn about poker and how did you become a professional?
I have loved poker since I first played when I was around 16. I was trying to learn and playing (very badly) for several years but only started taking it seriously after university. I joined a stable and been lucky enough to have worked with tons of great coaches, and still regularly seek out coaching today.
2. How long have you been coaching and what motivated you to start your coaching journey?
I started coaching during Covid as a new project since most things were shut down at the time. I quickly began to enjoy it as much as playing and was really motivated by seeing my students improve. Having had a lot of coaching myself I know what makes a great teacher and I try to bring that to every session. In particular, I am motivated to keep honing my database review skills as I have benefitted myself from this type of coaching, learnt a lot from other coaches, and know I can bring great value in just one review.
3. Where do you live and what do you usually do besides poker?
I’m from Liverpool, England. I like sports and play a lot of table tennis to a half-decent level. I enjoy all kinds of games - board games, video games.
4. In your opinion, what are 3 main things that people who want to grow as professional poker players should learn?
I think one of the most important skills is how to study as this will always be a crucial part of a professional player’s routine and it’s important to maximise this time. So learning how to use various tools efficiently, knowing what questions to ask and how to come away with key takeaways from complex solutions, and also tailoring your study to you - are you more of a visual learner, are you very maths-oriented, do you learn through drills better?
The second part of that is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and building a strategy around that. There are many viable strategies but they won’t all be well-executed depending on your personality. For example, some players like very disciplined, simplified strategies, others like to navigate more unusual nodes. Some love reg battling and are happy to try and max exploit, while others would prefer a softer approach to avoid levelling wars.
The third thing would be reviewing your strategies and monitoring how things are going. This can be both to strengthen your fundamentals but also to test how your exploits are going. Having this data is very valuable because, in a game where correct plays are often punished, it’s very difficult to actually gauge how things are going without looking at the numbers. For example, I often have players saying that their bluffs are never getting through, everyone is a station, but when we dig into the numbers, they are actually profitable bluffs. We can also use this database review to influence our strategies; if we see that your big blind 3bet success is very high, we can adjust your preflop ranges to be a bit bluff heavy, and then monitor how that works out over the coming months.
5. What are your coaching and general poker goals?
I’m really enjoying both playing and coaching right now. I would love to take on a bigger coaching project this year. I am working with many players semi-regularly, but it would be great to work with a group of up-and-coming players regularly and really show what’s possible over 6-12 months. I did this a couple of years ago with great results (you can see on my page) but I would really like to repeat that.