Poker tournaments are probably the most popular form of the game and most players get involved with poker exactly through this format type. Some branch out but many stay to try and find their share of success in MTTs.
This means there are tens of thousands eager players out there, all of them seeking tournament success. But, in poker, like in many other things in life, the success doesn’t come on its own. It needs to be achieved through hard work.
Upswing Poker’s Winning Poker Tournaments course is one of the best tools you can get your hands on if you belong to this group. It is a detailed, comprehensive, and somewhat intense course that teaches you everything you need to know to take your MTT game to the next level.
However, it’s worth noting right at the start of this Winning Poker Tournaments review that the course wasn’t designed for complete beginners. The course does start from a presumption that you have some very solid foundations and takes an approach that heavily relies on math and numbers.
Delivered by Nick Petrangelo, a man with $17.5 million in tournament winnings to his name, Winning Poker Tournaments can teach you a lot but it also requires those who embark on this journey to put in the effort and dedication. It’s an excellent tool but it’s not a magic wand.
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Table Of Contents
Winning Poker Tournaments Overview
As mentioned, this particular course heavily relies on numbers and Petrangelo takes advantage of a number of software solutions that are commonly referred to as “solvers”. These programs, such as PioSolver, Poker Snowie, and Monker are great tools for breaking down all sorts of scenarios and coming up with correct mathematical solutions for the said scenarios.
So, having a basic understanding of these programs would definitely come in handy. However, it’s not a prerequisite as Nick does take the time to explain how these solvers work and how they’re used for the purposes of the course. So, if you’re new to these tools, you shouldn’t be skipping the first few videos.
After this, Winning Poker Tournaments is broken into three large parts:
- Play & Explains
Each of these sections contains many hours of video lessons offering in-depth explanations of different scenarios you’ll face in tournaments. It’s really to Petrangelo’s credit that he manages to keep all of these videos fairly easy to keep up with even though explanations themselves are often longwinded.
The fact of the matter is that this isn’t a light poker course that your run through. It’s heavy artillery type of stuff that can help you turn into an elite player but it doesn’t happen by just watching the videos. You’ll need to stop and think about things that are being discussed and do your best to understand and accept the underlying reasons for offered solutions.
It’s also worth noting that Winning Poker Tournaments, like many other Upswing courses, is a living entity. New lessons are added to the course fairly regularly so if you were to purchase the course today, you can expect to get some additional material later down the line.
Tournaments differ greatly from cash games in many aspects but the biggest one is the fact your stack is constantly fluctuating. You can’t simply add more chips after you lose a hand and even if you don’t lose any hands, blinds keep on increasing.
So, one of the biggest things to master in MTTs is how to play at different stack depths and the Preflop section of Winning Poker Tournaments does a great job at explaining this.
For the purposes of this course, Petrangelo uses mixed strategies, which means that he offers solutions that are rarely 100% do this or that. Instead, this approach advocates a mixed style of play where different options have similar EVs, so you can mix them up without losing any value.
Of course, this makes things harder to learn and remember but it also makes you a more unpredictable opponent who is more difficult to play against, which you’d expect from a tournament master course.
In terms of content in this section, you’ll find videos covering your best preflop options at various stack depths, i.e.:
- 15 bb
- 20 bb
- 25 bb
- 50 bb
- 100 bb
In addition to this, this section also includes two segments that were added after the initial releases, namely blind vs. blind concepts as well as squeezing.
All the explanations you’ll find in the videos are mostly done using PioSolver as Nick goes through various scenarios and explains the numbers and percentages on the screen. This is where you’ll need to focus if you want to keep up because this kind of content isn’t something you’ll benefit from if you are just watching it while you’re thinking about whatever else.
That said, the course also provides you with a fully operational Preflop Mastersheet. By simply a clicking on a specific stack depth and position at the table, you’ll get a popup with suggested ranges. The Mastersheet can’t be downloaded locally to protect its value but you can always access it from your Upswing account for learning and studying purposes.
Not surprisingly, the Postflop section of the Winning Poker Tournaments course is much more extensive. Postflop play is much more complex and there are many decisions that players face along the way, so the sheer amount of material found here is somewhat scary.
In terms of structure, the section is split into several main areas, discussing things such as:
- C-betting on different board types
- Playing against a c-bet
- Turn probes
- Playing in single raised and 3-bet pots
- Blind vs. blind play
- Identifying and categorizing board textures (a new segment)
All of these larger categories are further broken down by relevant factors, such as playing in and out of position, looking into specific board types (monotone, wet boards, etc.), and more. As a whole, this section covers everything you need to know about navigating postflop scenarios in tournaments.
Nick obviously knows what the most important segments of postflop play are, so you will find a lot of material covering continuation bets for example. In today’s games, c-betting plays a huge role and knowing how to do it, when to (not) do it, and how to deal with it is essential.
And that’s just a small fraction of the whole.
If you thought preflop section was overwhelming, well, this one is even more intense. This course may make you feel like a throwback to your college days where you had to spend hours studying, learning, and preparing for your finals.
But it’s the only way to make it work.
I realize I mentioned this several time throughout this Winning Poker Tournaments review but it’s an important thing to understand. Petrangelo has done a great job in terms of how he presents his thoughts and ideas but the learning process just isn’t easy.
The best way to go about it is to go through the postpflop section in a way it is presented, not skipping any lessons. If you feel you’re getting tired or overwhelmed, don’t try to force yourself through it. You’re better off taking a breather and coming back to it when you feel ready to keep going.
This may feel ineffective but it’s not. Your focus is on adopting the knowledge from the course and that takes time and effort. If you just breeze through the materials, you’ll likely miss out on many important points and you even run a risk of adjusting your play based on the partial information, which could produce results contrary to what you’re hoping to achieve.
Play & Explains
The Play and Explain section is kind of where everything you’ve learned throughout the course comes together. In a series of videos, Nick goes through several of his high stakes tournaments, hand by hand, and explains his reasoning in pretty much all important spots.
The tournaments in question are:
- $25,000 WCOOP
- $10,000 SCOOP
- $5,000 SCOOP
- WCOOP Sunday live play
Clearly, these aren’t tournaments that many players regularly play in but the advice provided in the course and in these videos applies across the board. So, this shouldn’t be a big concern, even if your average buy-in is significantly lower.
What’s much more important is that Petrangelo really takes time to go through every single decision of every relevant hand. There is no sense of rushing things and you’ll definitely be able to developer better understanding for many of the concepts that may have seemed rather abstract up to this point.
Nick also doesn’t shy away from recognizing his own mistakes as he goes through the hands and emphasizing spots where he, too, didn’t act according to the strategies described in the course. This goes to show that there is really a lot to learn and there should be no pressure on you to just learn it all in two weeks’ time.
Is Winning Poker Tournaments Worth Buying?
If there is one thing about Upswing courses that remains true no matter how you look at it is that they’re almost always of the highest quality and delivered by the people who are experts in their respective fields. Winning Poker Tournaments is no different.
Nick Petrangelo has all the credentials he needs to back up a course like this and he’s done a great job with it. The amount of knowledge you’ll find inside is really impressive.
However, this isn’t a traditional poker tournament course for beginners. For many, this approach to studying poker might be completely new or something they’ve had contact with but never really adopted.
I guess it wouldn’t be unfair to say that this isn’t the most entertaining tournament course on the planet. Even Petrangelo himself is aware of this fact and doesn’t try to hide it. He goes beyond the surface and discusses the math behind pretty much every type of decision you’ll have to face and that can be draining.
But, all knowledge comes at a price.
There are many courses out there covering the topic of poker tournaments. Most of them are cheaper and probably more entertaining to watch.
However, none of them contain the kind of quality information you’ll find inside Winning Poker Tournaments. This is a no-nonsense training program that gives you a chance to understand all math behind every decision you make – and figure out why it does or doesn’t work.
So, to sum it up, the course is worth the money if you are an already solid player that’s getting ready to take on higher stakes tournaments. But you need to be open-minded and ready to spend some time on it. Take it one lesson at a time, try to use your newly acquired knowledge at the tables as you move on, and it will pay off quite handsomely.
Click here to find out more about Winning Poker Tournaments poker course by Nick Petrangelo.