Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stoxpoker review

It's been almost 6 months since deciding to make the jump to stoxpoker's coaching site, and I've been planning on giving it a review for quite a while now. This thread over at cardschat reminded me to do it, so here it is.

First off I want to say that I have exactly ZERO experience with other poker coaching sites, but I do have experience with other poker forums, so take my word for what it's worth.

Videos - 9.5/10

450 videos (as of this post) in several different formats. The quality of the videos varies - for example, some coaches use worse quality mics than others, and it shows in the videos. The streaming versions of the videos are often of such bad video quality that you can't see the hud stats or the bet sizes, so I personally rarely use it unless I want a quick preview. Although the technical side of the videos can be a bit dodgy at times, the content of the videos is just amazing. All of the coaches are proven (and very big) winners, and they explain their thought process and their strategies very well. The different formats:

In-game session/replayer review: These make up the bulk of the videos. Coaches open up usually 1-4 tables of whatever game has been requested the most lately, and basically just play a session explaining their thought process and why they're making the moves they're making. Sometimes, especially recently, coaches have get-togethers and do tandem sessions. So one coach will be playing and explaining why he's doing what he's doing, and the others will agree/disagree and give their opinion. These are especially great because you get several different points of view. Less common than the session videos are the replayer sessions. Basically they make a video with a certain theme - like Hunter Bick's recent 'postflop play in 3-bet pots' video - and basically review a bunch of hands in some kind of hand history replayer. Also great.

Classroom: These are the videos I make detailed notes about and save in my filing cabinet. A good example of one of the better ones is Kyle Cottonseed Hendon's continuation betting video which I believe is actually one of the free videos. Go take a look. Basically they use powerpoint to teach different concepts, and most of these videos are absolute gold. I'm always drooling when I find a new one's been posted.

For every video that's posted, there's a corresponding discussion thread in the forums where the coaches help with anyone who's got a question or just wants to discuss certain hands/concepts from the video. I don't think anything else needs to be explained - you get to discuss poker with 400nl-10000nl pros, all of which are really nice guys. What else could you ask for?

The videos they release cover everyting from NLHE to 2-7 triple draw to sports psychology. Originally the bulk of the videos were fixed limit, but have since shifted to 6-max NLHE. Myself being a full ring player, it actually makes little difference. Most of the concepts apply to any form of NLHE anyways.

The videos are the real reason I signed up to stoxpoker, and the real reason I'm staying there. The forums and other smaller features are great, but the videos are the meat of the site in my opinion.

Forums - 8/10

For those of you coming from cardschat, I think you'll like these forums. They have a great community feel, but also have some very high quality posters who are mid-limit regulars. Like I mentioned in the CC thread I linked to at the top, it's like 2+2 without the assholes. Obviously since the 'good' section of the forums is for paid members only, the traffic isn't as high as 2+2 or cardschat, but the quality makes up for it. The coaches frequent the forums as well, giving advice in the occasional HA thread, and once in a while posting high-limit hands themselves.

The content can sometimes be absolute gold, other times it can resemble 2+2's "qft" or "." posts. That, plus the fact that the traffic is a little low (I've posted several threads on what I thought were pretty good subjects and got zero responses) are the only reason why I haven't scored 9 or 10/10.

Support - 7/10

I had a hard time deciding a score on this one. I *think* they only really have a few people hired to deal with support, and as such the support you get is pretty inconsistent. For example, soon after I signed up, I had a problem with the DRM (the security measure they use to protect their videos from getting shared). I contacted support, he gave me his skype name, and I talked to him directly to get the problem fixed. 10/10. Then more recently, I was looking through their new stoxshop trying to see how much a certain book costed, and accidentally checked out. I got a confirmation email saying it would be shipped soon. I replied back saying I hadn't even paid for it and asked how I could do so, but never got a reply. That was nearly a month ago, and I've since just forgotten about it.

They're very honourable people though - any time they actually find a problem or read about a complaint, they are happy to compensate members with subscription add-ons, or whatever else it takes to satisfy the customer.

My advice to them would be to hire some more people in support, and pay them full-time :)

Design, function - 7/10

The site needs a little bit of an overhaul. For one, certain pages (like the videos page) load really slowly. Other problems like the articles section posting every article as a massive brick of text, hardly legible, can really take away from the presentability of the site. I think they need to hire another new techie full-time to deal with all the problems. I manage to download my videos and post in the forums absolutely fine, but it can be a little off-putting for someone looking to sign up for the site.

Other features - 7.5/10

I guess you can call this the 'everything else' section. Blogs, articles, member blogs, member videos, etc.

The coaches regularly post in blogs, with most of the content being actually very interesting. I'd suggest Dusty's and Kyle's blogs being at the top of your list.

As mentioned before, the articles section is just brutal. To be %100 honest I haven't even bothered reading them as the BRICKTEXT format they're in is just unreadable.

Member blogs are a nice feature, but unfortunately the format in which they present them is also bunk. They essentially have one page where they post the more recent entries for everyone. You don't get your own page; they basically stuff everything together.

They have another feature that seems nice on the surface, the member videos. Send support the link to your video of a certain length and format, and they'll host it for you. The problem (my guess is due to marginal support) is that the videos often take a LONG time to actually be posted. The feature seems nice, but you might as well host the video on megaupload and post the link in the forums.

The hand converter works great, plus it has the added feature of converting multiple hands at a time. The stoxshop is also another nice feature for the site; they sell everything from books to software to subscription add-ons to stoxpoker hats.

The price is well worth it. See here for pricing. When you consider just how much content you get for the price, really the price is a steal. These are guys who would charge hundreds or 1k+ hourly for personal coaching, but they're in effect doing group coaching for $25/month. They have all types of deals and bonuses for first-time subscribers too, so look around their site to see what you can find (free PT3, free books, sign up at a site and get 6 months free, etc etc). I myself paid for 3 months in December, and have since gotten enough referrals from friends to have my subscription expanded to next November.

Overall - 8.5/10

I'm satisfied as a customer, but that may be because I only use the 'better' features on the site and ignore the others. Even with that said, the videos alone are enough to make my subscription more than worth the money I pay. I guess that's easy to say now that I'm getting free months for the occasional referral, but believe me when I say the $25/month you'll be paying will be more than made up for in profits. It's a little hard to gauge my progress as a player since joining stox. I joined at exactly the same time I decided to take a serious plunge in ring games (from my marginal success in tourneys), but I've made an average of $1,000 monthly since doing so in Dec, and already this month I'm on pace to crush that total. Y'know what, just check my monthly summaries on the right to see how I've done since December. That'll give you a nice idea.

If you're serious about your game, go and take a look at their free videos at the bottom of their home page and tell me that 10 of those weekly on top of the other content isn't worth the monthly fee.

-ChuckTs, satisfied customer.


stox said...

Great review. thanks!

I'm stoxtrader of and my comments are below:

MY comments on the review:

Sound quality: We now have standard issue microphones for our coaches so if any recent videos have low audio quality be sure to let us know. It should not be something that happens anymore.

Streaming versions of videos: WE have re-rendered the ENTIRE library using a new process and the streams should be much higher quality. let me know if this is not the case on ANY of the videos.

Site load times - we KNOW they a currently slow FOR SURE. The problem is on our end and with our database and site structure. We are in the middle of doing an entire site rewrite. we have spent currently approx 400 programming hours on it and have approx 300 more to go. We are hoping it is live within two months. This will definitely solve the site loading time issue.

support/stoxshop issue - we are always working on support, but this stoxshop issue is a mystery to me. let me know if you actually recieve the item!

Articles section - will be getting an overhaul after/during the rewrite. We have so far chosen to leave it up but may take it down until it is redone.

Member videos - we are making a concerted effor tto post these quickly but I would like to to point out that many delays are on the end of the user in the form of bad files/formats/uploads.

Icemonkey9 said...

Very compelling review ChuckTs. I've gone back and forth and decided last month it wasn't for me. I appreciate Stox post here a comment to let me know bigger and better things are coming for the site, I'll definitely rethink my strategy.