Today we’re gonna review the latest course from Upswing Poker: Winning Poker Tournaments With Nick Petrangelo. We’ll walk you through the course in detail and share the pros and cons.
We normally spend a lot of effort praising poker games besides No Limit Hold’em in the hope of growing more interest in mixed game variants. However, No Limit Hold’em was our first love and we still enjoy playing the occasional high-value WPT and WSOP tournament.
So we jumped at the chance to review Winning Poker Tournaments instructed by Nick Petrangelo. With over 23 million in poker tournament winnings this is a big time get by Upswing Poker. Nick is a world class player at the highest tournament buy-ins and so it is somewhat surprising that this course would be produced and offered at such a reasonable price point.
What to expect in the Winning Poker Tournaments course
The course is broken up into four different sections:
- Play & Explain
Course Sections: Introduction
This section contains three, short 20 minute videos where Nick introduces the various solvers that he uses such as Monker, PIO, and Snowie.
What is a poker solver?
A solver is poker software that lets a user see the optimal (game theory) play for any poker hand scenario.
Using solvers can help you improve your poker decision making skills.
Two of the videos demonstrate how to use PIO which is Nick’s preferred software for analyzing postflop situations. If your goal is to use PIO yourself then his tutorials will prove to be immensely useful.
Solvers such Monker and Snowie played a role in helping him develop his powerful preflop strategies which we will discuss in the next section.
Course Sections: Preflop
The Preflop section contains ten different videos ranging from 20-30 minutes each along with the Preflop Mastersheet.
The Preflop Mastersheet is an amazing piece of work and is well worth the price of the course on its own merit. Utilizing various solvers and some part intuition, Nick compiled a master chart on how to play every single hand in a variety of situations with up to six different stack sizes:
- Raising First In
- Defending the Big Blind
- Blind versus Blind
- Playing Against an Open
- Playing Against a 3 Bet
- Squeeze Situations
Let’s give you a few sneak previews of this great tool. For example, the following is the solved equilibrium strategies for defending the big blind with 100 effective bets against a button raise of 2.5x:
Hands with two different colors represent a mixed strategy where you should mix up your play between both calling and re-raising. For example, it appears that our best play would be to have approximately a 50/50 mix of calling and re-raising with QJs. As Nick explains in his videos, mixed strategies are used for hands where the EV of both calling and re-raising are approximately the same. However, the employment of mixed strategies allows us to play more hands profitably for reasons such as having greater board coverage on a variety of flops.
The Mastersheet also covers unique situations such as a possible squeeze where one player open-raises and is called by another player. For example, suppose you are in the small blind with 30 big bets and are facing a raise from middle position and a call on the button. The following is the solved for equilibrium solution for that specific situation:
In order to protect the value that you paid for this Mastersheet, it is only available online and not for download; however, if you play live you cannot be shuffling sheets around and referring to them anyway!
A powerful tool has been handed to you and it is up to you to make full use of it. Some may imagine that the life of a high roller is travelling around the world, playing poker, and then go out jet skiing. While I have no doubt that Nick finds plenty of time for leisure he mentioned that he spends countless hours studying these charts and so should you if your goal is to become elite.
A fun way to practice is to play online and refer to the charts during the game as the various situations come up. Many of the strategies are mixed therefore it is also handy to have a random number generator as well. Just the other day I had a great time playing online with my Mastersheet on the Ipad and using a random number generator on my Iphone. It was exciting to implement this powerful pre-flop strategy and that solid foundation translated into immense confidence through the entirety of my hands.
However, when it’s all said and done nothing can replace rolling up the sleeves and studying the various charts a little at a time.
Course Sections: Postflop
The Postflop section contains a whopping twenty-three videos of approximately 30 minutes in length hitting on various topics:
- Continuation Betting A High Boards
- Continuation Betting Dynamic Boards
- Continuation Betting Wet Boards
- Monotone Boards
- Paired Boards
- Continuation Betting Turn
- Playing vs Continuation bet
- Check-raising from Big Blind
- Probing Turn
- Single Raised Pots from Out-of-Position
- Three Bets pots Small Blind vs Button
- Blind vs Blind Postflop
- Blind vs Blind Limp Check
For the most part in these videos Nick goes through a variety of different boards and analyzes them using his preferred PIO solver. For example, he hits the ground running in the first video on continuation betting three different ace high flops:
Many highly illuminating conclusions were drawn from these videos and it’s great to learn the methods that one of the game’s elite players uses to analyze various situations. The level of detail is incredible. For example, in wide range situations on an ace high flop I had never considered that a holding such as 98 helped block two of the best holdings A9 and A8 that our opponent could hold. Your game will certainly take a big leap simply by watching the videos and digesting many of the findings even if you never end up using PIO solver yourself.
The only slight to this section is that Nick often has three of four different windows open at once so it’s sometimes very difficult to see the various boards and results. So I would recommend watching this section on a laptop and/or getting a stronger prescription on your glasses. However, those who end up using PIO solver and re-running these simulations themselves will get the greatest benefit.
Course Sections: Play & Explain
Far and away this is the most entertaining part of the course where Nick walks through hands from various high buy-in tournaments including:
- $25,000 World Championship of Online Poker (5 videos)
- $10,000 Spring Championship of Online Poker (3 videos)
- $5,000 Spring Championship of Online Poker (6 videos)
- $1,000,000 WSOP Big One for One Drop (3 videos)
- WCOOP Sunday Live Play (1 video)
- Check-raise Continuation Bet from Big Blind (2 videos)
For the majority of the videos Nick utilizes PokerTracker in order to efficiently focus on pre-selected hands that hit upon important fundamentals:
When he discusses selected hands from the WSOP One Drop it’s a fun format where he walks through his thinking as you get to watch the televised footage with him:
In total, you have access to twenty long videos for over thirteen hours of analysis. Getting into the mind of such a poker talent is extraordinary and listening to everything he considered during a hand is priceless. It was also humorous at some points when he was sometimes critical of himself about some of the plays that he made. “This was bad Nick, can’t believe I bet ¾ pot here when the best play was obviously 1/3 pot.” But that just goes to show how the best become the best, they never stop trying to improve.
Pros: Here’s what we liked about the course
- Rare opportunity to get inside the mind of one of the game’s best at a fraction of his coaching price point
- Nick is a highly likeable presenter and clearly articulates his thoughts
- Preflop Mastersheet is a one of kind resource containing 250+ charts that show exactly how to play your hands in virtually every situation whether you’re deep stacked, short stacked, or anywhere in between
- Play & Explains videos offer thirteen hours of pure analysis of carefully chosen hands
- As part of the course you have access to have a private Facebook group where Nick himself is available to answer questions
Cons: Here’s what can be improved
- In the Postflop section Nick often has many windows open at once and it can be difficult to see
- Right off the bat, in the Postflop section Nick analyzes three different flops where perhaps he would have been better served to warm the audience up by starting with one just one
- This is a highly advanced course and some beginner players may be overwhelmed by the concepts within
Overall, this is a top notch course for a skilled player looking to take his game to the next level through study and hard work.