Learn poker strategy direct from Phil Ivey’s Masterclass. This world champion poker player is the master of the mental game across all poker formats.
Whether you are just starting out with the game, a fan, or a seasoned player you are going to enjoy this masterclass. More importantly, you are going to learn a lot about the art of poker.
A genuine insight into the world of professional poker
The idea that someone like Phil Ivey would share some of his secrets stunned me. So, to be honest, I was not expecting too much from this course.
At 3 hours long it is one of the shorter ones that are available on the Masterclass.com platform. But, Phil packs a lot in. He covers all of the important poker strategies and does so in a way that someone who is almost a complete novice, like me, can actually follow.
Phil Ivey’s Poker Journey
Like many of the best players in the world, Phil’s interest in poker started early. As a child, he saw the men in his family playing and was intrigued. His grandfather spent many hours explaining the game to him. It quickly became his passion and even as a child he knew he wanted to be a professional player.
There is no doubt that if you want to be a good player, you have to practice…a lot. The strategies you will learn from this course will give you a head start.
Make full use of Phil Ivey’s poker strategy workbook
Before I dive in and tell you more about what is in the course, I need to urge you to download and use the provided workbook. Doing so will enable you to get a lot more out of the videos.
Pay particular attention to the up your game section, this shows you how to maximize your results. For example, every now and again you will see a chip symbol pop up in a video. That is there to remind you to refer to the workbook. Usually, you will be provided with exercises that are specifically designed to help you to cement what you have just learned.
Phil also recommends places where you can watch hands and learn more about the strategies he is teaching you. He also highlights the best poker apps, which you can use to sharpen up your game.
Understanding Pre-flop and Blind Defense
Master pre-flop and you’re in the game.Phil Ivey – Poker Masterclass
One of the biggest mistakes players make is not understanding how to handle the pre-flop. The decisions you make at this stage of the game have a huge impact on the overall outcome.
Phil quickly walks you through the different positions at the table and explains which pre-flop strategy works best for each position. As Phil says “position is everything”.
He goes through the different reasons to defend a blind as well as how to defend for suited connectors. Phil reminds you that it is also possible to over-defend your blinds. Phil shows you how to assess each situation and avoid this pitfall. He uses a hand review to show you an example of a play where he made this mistake.
It is refreshing to see Phil using his mistakes to teach his students memorable lessons. He could have taken the opposite approach and only shown himself in a good light. The fact he used his mistakes, as well as his successes, makes what he is teaching far more memorable.
Betting in poker is all about maximizing value.Phil Ivey – Poker Strategy Masterclass
Every bet you make has a reason or purpose. Phil says when you have mastered betting tactics you will be unstoppable.
This video has plenty of individual bets demonstrated on the screen. He goes through the various pitfalls and how to avoid them. Phil dives deep into the following subjects, in this section of the course. In many cases, he provides hand reviews to demonstrate the point he is making.
- Three-betting from position
- Inducing and calling bluffs
- Induced bluff vs. polarized value bet
Bluffing while playing poker
Learning to bluff is a big part of playing poker. The best players are masters of the bluffing game. If you are known to be a good bluffer, your opponents are far more likely to feel unsure. This will often lead to them making a higher number of serious mistakes.
Phil starts out by explaining that you should only bluff when you have a good reason to do so. It is all too easy to see an opportunity and waste energy pursuing it, when the rewards are not adequate for the effort you have made.
He also shows you how to monitor your opponent’s stacks. Doing that ensures that your opponent does not run out of chips before you have been able to play out your bluff and profit.
Once again, Phil includes some hand reviews to demonstrate the technique he has just shared. The first one is pushing an opponent off of a winning hand. These reviews are a great way to gain an insight into the way Phil thinks and plays. If you like watching poker, you will really enjoy these sections of the course.
His other hand review demonstrates how he was able to turn a pretty good hand into a bluff. An approach that enabled him to get more out of the situation than most players would. He had the 3rd best hand but was able to use a bluff to take down the pot.
He also explains a bit more about how to handle the triple barrel. Unlike other players, he does not get too hung up on this.
This section also covers mastering the bluffing mindset and balancing your bluffs. Knowing when to bluff and when to put that strategy aside is an important skill that a lot of players fail to master. There is an exciting hand review that perfectly demonstrates these two concepts.
An in-depth look at the Post-flop
The longest part of the game is the post-flop. There is a lot of money at stake and it is a high-stress situation. Understandably, this is the longest part of the course.
It is very clear that poker strategy is not just about the game you are playing at the time. Every time you play your opponents are learning about you and the strategies you use in each situation. They then use this information to try to work out what you will do the next time they are sitting around the table with you. I had not really thought about this aspect of the game before.
- When to slow play (hand review included)
- Continuation betting and board texture
- How to float the flop
- How to float the turn
- How to decide which draws to play (hand review included)
- How to play draws with a small stack
In the 2nd post-flop video Phil goes over when to fold. This skill is just as important as knowing when to go in for the kill. He covers the dangers of overplaying in-depth as well as the following points:
- Learn how to avoid overplaying a hand (hand review included)
- How to anticipate changes triggered by the turn card
- Learn how to take advantage of scare cards
- Betting to avoid a check back
- Learn when to check the river (hand review included)
- Why you need to go after small pots
You really need to go ahead and believe in yourself and go with what you believe. A lot of poker is instinctual.Phil Ivey – Poker Class on Masterclass.com
Successful deepstack play the Phil Ivey way
Playing deep stack is much more complicated and challenging than playing with a shortstack.
In this section, Phil includes how to play with small pockets. He briefly goes through what implied odds and reverse implied odds are and provides you with a hand example.
The hand reviews that are included in the deepstack video are:
- The deepstacked hero fold
- A deepstack implied odds hand
Playing the Mental Game
Phil Ivey has a reputation for being very strong mentally. So, this is the section of the course I was looking forward to the most.
He explains how to keep your emotions under control. While playing poker you need to make sure that the decisions you make are logical.
It is important to learn how to cope with your opponent’s attempts to tilt you. If you let them succeed at pushing you off course, it is easy to lose focus. So, strategies to avoid this are included. It includes a simple tip to help you to avoid disaster if you do lose control a little. There is also an in-depth explanation of the different ways you can push your opponents off tilt, so they make mistakes.
Importantly, Phil covers the subject of how to lose. At some point, you are going to lose, so you need to know how to handle that situation. Phil shows you how to learn from losing rather than let it overwhelm you.
Table Image and Tells
The key to being a good player is understanding your opponent and being able to adjust how you play to beat them. To a large extent, the strategies you use are dictated by who you are playing and how they act.
Interestingly, Phil does not consciously create a table image. But, other players do, in some cases, they do this to try to mislead you. This is something you need to be aware of. Phil also explains how to track changes to the way someone is playing. Over time, they will evolve.
Strategies for Success
Phil goes through half a dozen different ways you can improve your game. He explains how to analyze your game, who to follow, when to use statistics and how to collaborate with others. Being able to stay in the moment enables you to learn more. So, it is an important skill to learn.
Who is Phil Levy’s Poker Strategy Masterclass for?
If you have never played poker before, there is no way you are going to be able to follow everything in this course. It is definitely aimed at people who already play.
Even if, like me, you are fairly new to the game you will still be able to follow most of what Phil shares. Plus, once you have played more you can always go back over the parts of the course that you did not fully understand.
The course and workbook are laid out in a way that makes it easy for students to find things again and review things. Although, annoyingly the videos are not bookmarked, so you may need to watch the video for a few minutes before you get to the point you are looking for. But, using the workbook you will at least know that you are looking at the correct portion of the course.
Plus, as you can see from my full masterclass.com review, you also get access to something called office hours. Using this facility you can put any questions you have to Phil Ivey himself. There is also a good community forum and the facility to leave comments at the bottom of each video.
I doubt that a professional player would learn a huge amount from the course. However, I am sure many of them will still take this masterclass, especially those who are likely to end up competing against Phil Ivey, in the future. It is interesting for them to get an insight into how other professionals see the game. This is especially the case for someone like Phil who has won 10 world championship bracelets.
Is Phil Ivey’s poker strategy masterclass good value for money?
As I mentioned earlier at 3 hours this is one of the shorter courses on the masterclass.com platform. However, I still think it offers fantastic value for money. In particular, if you invest in an all-access pass.
I’ve got an all-access pass, so have been able to take 25+ of the courses for just $180. That is an amazing price. If I were to have bought just 10 of the courses separately, it would have cost me $900. So, there is no doubt that the all-access pass is the way to go. New courses are being added all the time, so there is always something fresh and interesting to explore and enjoy.