Last week, I claimed the Doug Polk and Fernando ‘JNandez87’ Habegger YouTube feud revealed an ugly truth about the business of online poker training.
I said the very public battle revealed that poker training is a business. And that while those in the business of teaching others poker strategy may want it to look like they’re in it to help players, the true motivation is money.
Habegger claims Polk’s Upswing Poker owes him close to $100,000 for sales of the course he quit on. Polk showed financial information claiming the short-lived course did close to $1 million in sales and he’d already paid Habegger over $200,000 of it.
The big business of poker training
I used this as an example to show just how big of a business poker training has become. Plus, I said it made it quite clear at least these two aren’t in that business for anything more than money.
While I said this battle over bucks should tell us what most coaches and training sites are really about, I never said all coaches and training sites are the same.
Regardless, Steve Blay, who co-owns AdvancedPokerTraining.com (APT) with his brother Allen Blay, wrote me to object to that characterization that all poker training sites are run purely for profit, with no regard for their customers:
“Yes, APT is a business, and as with all businesses, we need to make money to survive. However, my brother and I care very much about our customers, the players. To say that we are only in it for the money is unfair and completely incorrect.
“Allen and I designed APT with a clear goal of helping others achieve their poker goals while making a living ourselves. APT enables me to work from home and support my family while doing interesting work and assisting others in pursuing their avocation.”
Going above and beyond
The truth is, not all training sites and coaches are the same. Many sites go above and beyond simply uploading poker training content to the internet in an effort to turn a profit.
Blay believes APT is one of them:
“If our only interest in poker training were to make a profit, there would be much easier ways to do so than to create a high touch product with constantly expanding features. We make personal connections with our players and constantly solicit feedback as to how we can better help them. We support our players in our own community forum, on Facebook, and via email. When any of our players indicates that something is not working for them, we work to find a better way.”
Two bad apples spoiling the bunch
Blay also mentioned numerous other professionals who offer poker training and coaching are simply trying to support their families while helping others to achieve their poker goals. He said just because they need to make a profit, doesn’t mean that they don’t care about the people who help them do it.
Blay said it should be made clear that while the feud between Polk and Habegger makes them look bad, it doesn’t reflect on the poker training and coaching community as a whole:
“Yes, the (Polk and Habegger) feud is ugly and reflects poorly upon Upswing Poker and the individuals involved. However, implicating the entire poker training community because of the bad behavior of two individuals is going too far and unfair to those of us who sincerely care about our players.”
It became very clear to me at that time that APT is not your average poker training site. And the Blay brothers are not just poker pros leveraging the success they’ve had into a new and more consistent revenue stream. They are academics and software developers.
The motivations behind poker training
I said in my previous column that the content on Upswing Poker, Habegger’s own PLO Mastermind course, and many other training sites can help make you a better player. I also said it may even be worth the the cost.
The column also included a warning to consumers not to be fooled into thinking many of the people behind the sites are in it for anything more than money. And while I should clarify that I never meant to paint all poker training sites and coaches with the same greedy capitalist brush, I stand by it.
Not all poker training sites and coaches are the same. Savvy consumers should do a little research to find out exactly what the motivations are behind the site and coach they are interested in working with before they buy in.