Best Poker Course Ever? Ultimate Review – Poker Fortress

Upswing Lab

Where to even start to do Upswing Poker’s Upswing Lab justice? This poker course/membership training site has a ton of content. It is not just your standard 6max cash games learning lessons. I am a member of Upswing Lab myself, and wow, there are a lot of strategies that are available to you.

The Upswing Lab covers training lessons for online cash games, live cash games, MTTs (tournaments), play & explains, interactive preflop charts, a section for newer poker players, quizzes, hand history reviews, lessons on how to study your own database of hands, …  It is suited for players of all skill levels which is super rare it today’s poker training ecosystem.

The Upswing Lab is the best overall poker course. It is an all-in-one poker strategy training course suitable for poker players of all experience levels. It includes strategies on No Limit Holdem 6max cash games, tournaments, live cash games, heads-up, and general poker strategies.

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Upswing Poker Lab has a monthly subscription model, with 6 months and yearly options available at a big discount. Honestly, it has so much content that if you are serious about getting better at poker, I would recommend you take a 6-month subscription at least. And if you are unsure if you will like the content, don’t worry. Upswing Poker has a risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee.

Upswing LabUpswing Lab is the go-to strategy solution for No Limit Hold’em.

In a hurry? Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of an Upswing Lab course:

Pros

Hundreds of videos nicely packaged into modules

In-depth strategy

6max, Heads Up, live games, MTTs all under one single subscription

More than enough to climb up in stakes

All-in-one poker strategy solution

For players for all levels of experience (beginners, intermediate and advanced)

Fresh content added regularly

Cons

Monthly subscription with no option for a “one-time – access forever” payment

There is no content for Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), only No Limit Texas Hold’em

What the Upswing Lab is

Upswing Poker’s Upswing Lab is a monthly subscription course that includes in-depth strategies on various poker games. Under a single subscription, it covers 6max cash games, live cash games, tournaments, play & explains, and general poker strategy.

You can see six main sections with strategy modules and Upswing Lab Extras when you first enter.

In a nutshell, I can say that the Lab has:

Massive amount of poker strategy contentCovers all No Limit Texas Holdem strategyIn-depth courseSuitable for beginners, intermediate, and advanced poker players6max, live games, MTTs, heads-up gamesAlmost like an encyclopedia of poker strategyDeep enough to bring you to high stakes in poker (if you put in time to learn, of course)

Essentially, it is an ultimate all-in-one poker resource. Any questions regarding No Limit Texas Hold’em poker strategy you might have, you will find an answer here.

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What the Upswing Lab is NOT

It is not a “pay once, have access forever” type of course. It is based on a monthly subscription, and in exchange for that, you get fresh content added weekly and a new module each month.

While it goes in-depth, it is not as in-depth as a poker course focused only on live cash games, for example. But the online cash games section covers pretty much everything.

How the Lab is structured

The lab is structured into sections, and some sections have subsections.

Under each section/subsection, you can find different modules.

And inside of each module, you can find lessons.

Each module is usually a few hours long, and lessons are your typical video with the strategy explained. Below each video, you can find useful video notes.

Lab lessons structureLessons contain video, and below it, you can find useful notes. The Video Notes are very useful if you don’t have time to watch all the videos and also as a refresh material after you already watched the video.

How to get the most out of the Lab

The course is massive, so it is important to know how to get the best out of it. I would advise you first to choose what type of game you want to learn.

Then go under that section and start learning module after module. If you think that you know a lot already about a specific module, I wouldn’t skip it. Still, at least skim through it; maybe you learn something new.

Make sure to study each module in great detail. If you are fairly new to poker or don’t play higher stakes, then really take time and study the module before moving on to the next one.

Often, theory needs to be applied together with the practical work. Make sure to play some hands after studying the module. When you start to see that you are doing things right, slowly move to the next module. It is not uncommon if you spend a week or more studying just one single module. Sadly, just a one-month subscription will not be enough to skyrocket you to the high stakes.

Go in-depth and really critically think about situations.

It takes the best of players years of learning to get to the highest of stakes, where they put in hundreds if not thousands of hours of learning. Luckily for you, applying the knowledge of just some of the modules will make you much better at lower stakes. And once you climb up, keep learning, as the poker games constantly evolve.

Content

There is so much content that it took me quite a while to think of how to structure this review. In the end, I believe I came up with a good solution.

upswing lab introductionI advise watching the Course Walkthrough video when entering your Upswing Lab. It will quickly explain to you the structure of the course.

When you first enter the Upswing Lab, you are presented with a walkthrough video. Below that, you have different sections of training material:

No limit simplifiedCash gamesMTTsLive pokerPlay & explainsPreflop charts

Immediately below, you can find a button with Upswing Lab Extras (preflop charts, Facebook group, downloadable resources, FAQ, and also see what’s recent new content).

And under that, you can find All of the Lab Modules from newest to oldest. Thankfully, you can use the search functionality as there are a ton of modules, and each of them is a few hours.

In total, there are hundreds of hours of videos for you to learn from. Remember, if you aren’t sure about where to start, you can always message support@upswingpoker.com, and they will assist you.

In this review/guide, I will show you section by section, and let’s start with No Limit simplified first.

No Limit Simplified

This section is meant for people new to studying poker strategy or players struggling at the lowest of stakes. It is my favorite section of the Lab. Simply because I love it when the learning material is tailored toward beginners in poker. Poker is a very complex game, and having simple-to-understand content is crucial at first.

Upswing Lab 4 categories upgradeExample of a single module (this module is about the upgrades to the 4 categories strategy) inside of the No Limit Simplified section.

Here you can find videos about (and more):

Poker terminologyWhat are matricesThinking of ranges instead of specific handsRaise first in (RFI) and playing against RFI3 bet potsBet sizesSoftwareBankroll management

And much more. Here, you are introduced to 4 categories poker strategy, but the section doesn’t end here. There are many videos on how to move on from the basic Four Categories strategy, so it is a perfect starting point if you previously purchased Upswing Poker’s beginner course – Postflop Playbook.

My personal favorite in this section is the module on Micro Stakes Bankroll building by Doug Polk. This module alone has more than 15 videos.

You will also learn about how to study and find leaks in your own strategy with the help of tools.

I also found the videos of hand sample reviews on NL5, NL25, and NL50 very valuable.

Lab database adjustments moduleI like this module in the No Limit Simplified section. It is about adjustments we can make as poker players after playing 10,000 hands.

Cash Games

This is the bread and butter of the Upswing Lab course. I am confident that if you want to study any specific thing about cash games, you will find a video about it in the Cash Games section of the Lab course. It is far from a random collection of videos, though. Everything is packaged into logical subsections and modules, making it easy to find what you seek. And remember, you can use search functionality as well.

It is hard to tell how many hours in total are in this section, but I would say it is enough learning material that will keep you busy for months.

cash games section of upswing labThe Cash games section is huge, and it needed to be split into several subsections.

The section goes into such depth that the Cash Games section is split into 5 subsections:

GeneralPreflop & FlopTurn & River3-bet and 4-bet potsHeads Up

Plus, the Preflop Charts section. 

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Now, let’s go a bit deeper into five subsections. First, with General Strategy.

General

The General subsection has more than 15 modules. Each of the modules is several hours long.

Here, you can find everything about blockers, multiway pots, overbets, improving by studying your database, GTO, deep stack play, and costly mistakes…

I loved the Overbets module. The idea of overbetting was a bit distant to me. It is not just about betting hugely when you hold absolute nuts; it is about understanding why you are doing it and in which scenarios.

And that is exactly what this module is about. Next time, you will be ready to get that extra 50 big blinds pot that you would have passed on if you hadn’t gone through this module.

Preflop & Flop

The preflop foundation is mandatory in poker to be a great player. Here, you can see solver-based preflop ranges. Those are the optimal ranges but don’t worry. There is also a video about when you should be deviating from solver preflop ranges.

If preflop ranges are a must, many poker players aren’t that good with flop actions. This module gives you all the info and data on how to approach flop situations in an optimal way.

If you are unsure of whether to bet, call, or fold on the flop, here you will find out how to construct a range that is betting the flop, what is giving up, and what is checking.

It also teaches you how to use a solver in flop situations.

You can also find videos about 3bet pots in different postflop situations and the optimal approach to them.

Not sure about check-raising? There is not just one video but a whole module about it. 

Amongst others, you can find modules here about:

Advanced preflop strategyWhen to cbetButton vs. big blindCheck-raisingBlind vs blindOut-of-position playPaired flopsLow boardsAnd much much more

Turn & River

Turn and river spots are where mistakes will cost you a lot. If preflop and flop are where mistakes accumulate to bigger ones later on, the turn and river are where a single mistake can mean a loss of hours of profits.

It is very good that these two have their own subsection. You should become very comfortable with turn and river spots after studying around 30 hours of video content that are in this subsection.

Here you can find modules about:

Probe betting and delayed cbetsOverbetsHow to play turns and rivers after check-raising flopsRaising on the riverMulti-street thought processBlock bettingTripple barrelnew moduleEach month, a new module gets added (several hours long). New Play and Explains are added weekly.

3bet and 4bet pots

3bet and 4bet pots are situations if you play them correctly, you make a lot of money.

In this subsection, you can several modules:

3bet pots as out of position as 3-bettorIn the position as 3-bettor3bet pots as in position caller3bet pots as out of position caller3bet pots blind vs. blind4bet pots

As you find this review’s trend, all possible scenarios are covered. I love that the course goes really in-depth in 3bet pots. 3bet and 4bet pots very often get huge, and knowing how to pivot around and make correct decisions is crucial.

The “In position as 3-bettor” module has over 4 hours of content alone. So rest assured that if you study these modules in-depth, you will feel comfortable in 3bet and 4bet pots, knowing you are making the right decisions.

Heads-Up

Heads-Up plays a lot differently than 6max. Therefore, I am glad I see the separate subsection devoted to it.

Sadly for me, it is too heavily solver-based, so I didn’t enjoy it as much. Maybe that is why I also never really played heads-up :)?

We all have our favorites, and if I would need to choose, I would put the heads-up section as my least favorite part of the course.

I personally wish this subsection would be more beginner-friendly and more engaging.

Nonetheless, here you can learn about:

bet, check bet spotsturn probe4bets potsInsights from Doug Polk about his win in the $200/$400 heads-up challenge versus Daniel Negreanu where he won $1.2 million

Preflop Range Charts

The huge Cash Games section ends with the Preflop Range Charts subsection. This subsection is the same as the last main section (please scroll down to almost the end to read it there).

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MTTs (tournaments)

MTTs section has many modules, and combined with their tournament preflop charts, you have all the tools to succeed as a tournament player.

There are probably more than 50 hours of tournament strategy videos.

There are too many modules to list them all, but a few of the most interesting ones:

Playing 10-25bb stacksFinal table play3bet potsCheck-calling riversBounty strategyHow to Win the WSOP Main Event by Stoyan Madanzhiev

There is also a tournament crash course module and ICM Basics module that will be very useful for new tournament players.

I like that in the one Upswing Lab subscription you get a normal tournament strategy and a strategy for Bounty Tournaments, which has its own module. This is a nice feature that many tournament-focused poker courses don’t have. If you didn’t know, bounty tournaments play much differently than normal tournaments.

For all of you who plan to win the WSOP Main event, then who better to learn the strategy from than someone who actually won the WSOP Online Main event for $3.9 million? There are more than 12 hours of content by Stoyan Madanzhiev on how he won the WSOP 2020.

Live Poker

Upswing Lab’s live poker section is not as extensive as for example Crush Live Poker which focuses only on live poker. But nonetheless, it still has 7 different modules with tens of hours of videos.

Look at the Live Poker section as a nice bonus and addition to all the other strategy resources. In my opinion, there is still enough of the content in here to transition you from online to a live winning player. It is just not as focused and in-depth, and it doesn’t hold your hand from the very beginning.

If you are a complete beginner with zero online or live poker experience, looking to play live poker only, then my suggestion is to instead go with a Crush Live Poker membership.

Upswing Lab’s Live Poker section is suited for you if you already have some poker experience.

Thankfully, you can use the search functionality to quickly find modules, otherwise, you might become lost.

Play & Explains

At the start of the play and explain section, you get listed all the coaches making play and explain videos.

This becomes handy as there are several hundreds of play and explain videos. With the help of filters, you can quickly find videos only of your favorite coach. Moreover, you can also filter videos by game Type (HU, Cash, MTT) and by stakes (low, mid, and high stakes).

For even more precise filtering, you can also use search functionality.

You can find coaches playing as low as NL10, and $10, $20 tournaments, so real micro-stakes. But if you desire some high-stakes explanations, then don’t worry. There are many NL2000 cash game videos and even $25,000 tournaments.

When I was just starting in poker my favorite videos to watch were climbing in stakes type of play and explains. And I am glad I saw some series like this in this section as well :).

Preflop Range Charts

This is the 6th and final main section of the Upswing Lab. Here you can find preflop charts for:

Online Cash RangesLive Cash RangesTournament RangesAdvanced SOvler RangesAdvanced Tourney RangesHeads-Up Ranges

This is not just your standard download PDF preflop charts. It is an interactive online web app where you can quickly select the action before you, your position, and see which hands should be open, which fold, and with which hands you should 3bet.

interactive preflop chartsYou get access to interactive preflop hand charts for every situation.

I was pleasantly surprised by the speed it shows you the chart. I would not be surprised if someone would be using these interactive charts while playing (please don’t do that, I am quite sure it is not allowed), that’s how fast you can find the right chart.

You can also download the advanced solver ranges and use them in the Upswing Lab Range Manager software. Upswing Lab Range Manager is available only for Windows devices though.

Upswing Poker also has an Upswing Mobile App available in the App Store (iPhones) and Google Play (Android), so there is no excuse not to practice Online Cash, Live Cash, and Tournament charts on the go.

mobile appMobile app is available for App Store and Google Play.

If something is unclear on how to use the preflop charts, there is also a Preflop Chart Guide that is available to Upswing Lab members.

Testimonials

People love the value they get from Upswing Lab. Some report that they are satisfied with how they can quickly train a specific module they were struggling with. Many also became a lot more confident in their Texas Hold’em No-Limit game after joining. One person also reported that it was very beneficial for their live poker games, and they started playing two limits higher than before joining.

testimonials for Upswing LabThere is a whole page dedicated to the testimonials; there are many of them – see it here.Get Upswing Lab now!

Conclusion

The Upswing Lab is one of its kind when it comes to the amount of poker knowledge under a single course/subscription. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their game.

Video: A short walkthrough of Upswing Lab (it is a bit outdated and since then a ton of new stuff has been added to it).

The course is structured in a way suitable for real poker beginners. As a new player, you will find a ton of value. But not just that, also the intermediate and advanced players have plenty of modules to study. You can choose a specific module or go section by section.

As you can tell, the content of the course is super in-depth, and it covers almost every possible scenario that comes to your mind. It is on you, however, to study these modules. If you do, you will benefit greatly.

The Lab gives you all the information, and with enough practice and studying, you can make it to high stakes by just studying what is in this course. We are talking about 5 figure monthly poker winnings month after month once you get there.

Author: Gary Simmons