PokerCoaching.com Tournament Masterclass Review
This is a big one. And it’s outstanding.
PokerCoaching.com’s new Tournament Masterclass is Jonathan Little’s largest ever course on the site, clocking in at over 30 hours of training videos. Yet, despite it’s massive amount of content, it’s perhaps the most easily digestible course on the site. How can that be you ask? Let me explain…
This course contains a massive 180+ videos (plus a bonus…) and covers every possible aspect of No Limit Hold ‘em tournament play. A total of 30 hours of training over 180+ lessons may seem overwhelming. But while there is a ton of content, the course is structured so that students can consume it in a variety of different ways.
The course is broken down into 10 different categories, containing anywhere from 9 to 51 short videos apiece, with a short quiz following each video. The videos are generally in the 10-20 minute range, with some as quick as 5 minutes, and a few in the 30-minute range. It’s like a massive tapas menu of training. While the videos are generally on the shorter side, they are intense. There isn’t a wasted second, so along with those tapas, you’re getting a HIIT workout for your poker brain.
With this structure, students have the option to consume the course from start to finish or jump around to specific topics and in-game situations they want to brush up on. (I made the most of this option myself. Stay tuned…). It’s really quite encouraging to see this type of format because with so many quick, intense lessons, I know I’ll be returning many times to revisit a video if a relevant spot comes up in one of my sessions.
So, let’s dig into it and check out some of the specifics.
Intro and Fundamentals (9 videos)
It’s actually more like Intro and advanced fundamentals. This is not a course for beginners. You will need to master the true fundamentals before tackling the Masterclass. These advanced fundamentals include calculating equity and pot odds, bet sizing, constructing ranges, counting combinations and the impact of blockers, tournament structure and payouts, and a quick introduction to ICM and risk premiums (there’s a full segment dedicated to this later).
Little also discusses how the strategies and charts provided throughout the course are implementable, as opposed to true GTO numbers, which are pretty much impossible for the human brain to retain accurately. The numbers that Little’s charts provide are close enough to GTO, and as such are infinitely easier to understand and implement.
PokerCoaching.com implementable GTO (top right) vs Solver based GTO
Preflop (41 videos over 6 sections)
Now we begin to get into the meat of the training, as well as where students can start picking and choosing which sections they want to focus on if they want to check out specific lessons and situations.
After 4 videos discussing stack depth, bet sizing, range composition, and the importance of position, the next 5 sections are broken down into a series of videos sorted by stack size, (60+ BB, 35-60, 22-35, 12-22, fewer than 12), and the preflop action (RFI, vs. raise, vs. limpers, vs. raise + call, vs 3bet etc), with a minimum defence frequency lesson sprinkled in.
What range should you be 3betting with a 40 BB stack vs. a raise? It’s in the ‘facing a raise with 35-60 BB’ video. Best plan of attack when facing a raise and a call with a 22-35 BB stack? Just jump to that video. Facing a 4bet with 60+ bigs? Click that one!
Of note, along with implementable GTO strategies and positional charts in each section (and push/fold charts for the short stack lessons), Little will suggest exploitative adjustments to make throughout this course.
Note that 36 of the 41 preflop videos are like this, so again, you can watch each section for the complete range of strategies or jump to a specific situation you want to study.
Flop (51 videos over 12 sections)
So, was the 41-video Preflop section enough for you? No?! Ok cool, here are 51 videos on tournament flop play!
At this point I feel I should mention something you may have noticed, especially if you’ve read any of my other PokerCoaching.com reviews for this site. I’ve approached this one a little differently since there is just so much content. I’ve purposely decided not to get into great detail about specific sections / videos, because honestly, it would take forever, and the review would become an absolute slog to get through. The various tools used throughout (chart specifics, range analyzer, equilab, etc.) have been discussed in my previous reviews.
The PokerCoaching range analyzer is back to help you categorize hands and balance your ranges
The staples of flop play (checking vs. betting, C-betting, positional consideration, and bet sizing are covered off the top with a video each, followed by heaps of situational example videos that use the PokerCoaching range analyzer, then compare results with PioSOLVER to drill the concepts home. Range advantage, nut advantage, and range connectivity are all discussed thoroughly, and there are some new tools and visual aides as well, like the range advantage flowchart below.
One of several new flow charts to illustrate and assist in decision making
A variety of flow charts have been added throughout the program. Little explains how to use them well, and props to him for incorporating new teaching tools that visual learners may understand more than just words and numbers.
Here’s the actual breakdown of what you can expect in this mammoth section of the Masterclass (# of videos + content):
Introduction to the flop (4 – Betting vs checking, Continuation betting, position, bet sizing)
As preflop aggressor with the range advantage (5 – different board type examples)
As preflop aggressor without the range advantage (3 – intro + 2 board type examples)
Common Mistakes (1)
As preflop caller when checked to (1)
When facing a bet (11 – intro + 7 texture examples as preflop caller, + 3 as preflop raiser)
When facing a check raise (3 – intro, examples, SPR adjustments)
Exploitative adjustments (6 – intro + 5 vs different player types)
Other adjustments (2 – multiway, limped pots)
3bet pots (4 – as preflop aggressor + examples, as caller + examples)
4bet pots (2 – as preflop aggressor, caller)
Short stack strategy (9 – as aggressor, caller, in and out of position, when facing bets, when checked to, etc.)
Turn (32 videos over 10 sections)
An area a lot of players struggle with is the turn. I’ll fully admit to being one of them, and Little’s Cash Game Masterclass helped me immensely with my cash game turn play. I have no doubt this course will do likewise with my tournament game, and I know it will help any PokerCoaching student as well.
With another 32 videos covering topics including turn C-betting, probe bets and leading (there is a difference!), short stack adjustments, 3bet and 4bet pots, and multiway pots, the massive (yet comfortably consumable) amount of content continues.
Familiar visuals such as the PokerCoaching Range analyzer and solver charts are utilised well again, comparing Little’s implementable strategies in every situation to what’s suggested by the solver.
There are more new elements as well. Along with more flow charts breaking down bet frequency and sizing, ‘equity boards’ are introduced. These are grid-like charts identifying a player’s range equity based on the turn card that’s just fallen (they’ll be used in the River section as well). It’s another cool way to visualise how certain cards are good or bad for your range, depending on board texture, and whether you’re in or out of position.
An equity board (see above), with solver betting recommendations (see below)
Of all the turn lessons here, I’m a big fan of the sections on probes and leads. If you’re a player who recognizes that playing out of position, or facing aggression from an out of position player causes you some grief, you’ll get a lot out of these sections. With Little’s teachings, your comfort level will grow immediately.
One very important street left to discuss, so let’s get to the river!
River (20 videos over 12 sections)
We’ve made it to the river, where, as Little says, “most of your opponents will drown”. In his introductory video in this section, Little makes it very clear that despite it being the final street of play with seemingly fewer decisions, it is a very complicated street. There are still a ton of factors to consider, but a huge edge can be gained with good river play, and all the tools you’ll need are covered here.
Again, more new visual aides are included including scale-like graphics breaking down bluff and value range percentages, and a bluffing decision flow chart to determine whether to bluff or not, and if so, what size to bet.
A new tool to visualize range construction
Potential decisions on betting vs. checking (and check-raising), based on analysis of yours and your opponents ranges, your actual hand, position, and multiway pots are all thoroughly covered using primarily GTO strategies. There’s also a section devoted to opponent type exploits as well.
Coming out of this section, the first thing I realized was: I need to go through it again. Probably several times. There is A LOT more to river play than most players understand, and, as mentioned, that’s why there is a huge edge to be had if you can play it well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to work on finding the ideal spot for a 5x pot river bet.
ICM (10 videos)
One thing I love about doing these reviews, is being able to share from personal experience how the training on PokerCoaching.com positively impacted my own results. And I get to with this one as well.
Before I tackled the rest of the Tournament Masterclass for this review, I took advantage of the option to jump around within it before a Day 2 of a recent online tournament. I started here for a quick refresher on short stack ICM adjustments and risk premiums.
The morning of the tourney I binged 4 or 5 videos from this section, then spun up my 20 BB stack into a final table and a 6th place finish in the Playground Poker Power Weekend Big 50
The section begins with a few videos on payout implications, risk premiums in substantial and non substantial pots, and consideration of players who are not aware of ICM implications. The rest is broken down by your stack size, much like they were in the preflop section. (Again, 60+ BB, 35-60, 22-35, 12-22, and fewer than 12).
Overall, it’s a great section on ICM, and the ability to check out specific situations in 10- to 15-minute bites is very appealing.
Tournament format adjustments (8 videos)
While the Tournament Masterclass is based almost entirely on a standard 9-handed freezeout format, there are obviously adjustments to be made if the format of a tournament is different. That’s where this section comes in. Along with the short introductory video, there are 7 more quick lessons on adjustments to make for the following formats:
Satellites (25 min)
Though none of the videos really dives too deeply into each format, mainly discussing minimal adjustments, ROI impact, bankroll management, rake and such, some formats really don’t need much added discussion.
6-handed? Imagine the first 3 players folded, and exploit players playing ill-adjusted ranges.
Turbo tourney? Your edge decreases as the variance gets ratcheted up, but you’ll still be playing the same fundamentally sound strategy, looking for exploits in players that are not.
The section on re-entry is interesting, as Little goes into why you should not just gamble it up to build a stack because you can re-enter if you bust.
The section on satellites has more meat to it, clocking in at 25 minutes, but if you’re at all familiar with Little’s stance on satellites, you…