Smash Live Cash Review – Upswing’s Masterclass by Nick Petrangelo
For anyone out there looking for an in-depth and encompassing course for live poker cash games, the wait is finally over!
Created by Upswing’s Nick Petrangelo covers everything you need to know about playing live games, so take a look inside.
Smash Live Cash goes deeply into optimal preflop strategies, essential postflop plays and live games adjustmens for various situations.
Nick is known as a tournaments crusher, but he came up playing live cash games at local casinos, only later transitioning to MTTs. Even today, a lot of the strategy he needs to perform well in his bread-and-butter high-roller events is identical to the cash game strategy because of deep stacks and re-entries.
In this Smash Live Cash review, we’ll give you a walkthrough of the latest Upswing course so that you can know what to expect and make up your mind if this is what you need.
Smash Live Cash by Upswing Poker at a Glance
The course is divided into a few main sections, some of which you’d definitely expect, and at least one that comes as a nice surprise.
- Introductory part – explaining the main idea behind the course and introducing solvers
- Preflop – discussing the preflop strategy and offering a very extensive and useful preflop chart
- Postflop – covering a wide array of strategic topics regarding the postflop play
- Coaching Brad Owen – a mini-course within the main course
- Play & Explains
As is the case with all Upswing courses, there is a lot of material to go through, so don’t expect to be done within a day or two.
You’ll have to put aside a sizeable portion of your time to get through all the lessons in a meaningful way, but it will end up making you a much better player.
Preflop Mastersheet – Ultimate Live Cash Charts
Creating a solid and mathematically sound preflop strategy is crucial to success in any form of poker, but it is easier in some formats than in others.
When it comes to live cash games, things can get very complicated as stack sizes vary all the time, and players sitting at the table will have short stacks, deep stacks, and ultra-deep stacks.
How do you deal with all this?
The answer is the Preflop Mastersheet, created specifically for the purposes of the Smash Live Cash Course using MonkerSolver.
This is probably the most extensive preflop poker hands chart I’ve seen in my life, and it really has everything you could possibly need, including:
- Different stack depths (100bb, 200bb, and 400bb)
- Rake vs. no rake games
- Straddled games
- Games with antes
Of course, it’s not possible to memorize all these charts, and the course uses the no-rake charts as a baseline, but this goes to show how much work has been put behind the scenes into preparing this course.
If you happen to play in games where the rake is extremely high, for example, having these charts designed specifically for raked games can be a huge help.
These charts are very easy to use as you can filter for different situations with a single click and get equilibrium ranges for:
- Open raising
- Playing against an open
- Facing a 3-bet
- Different squeeze charts
The main idea is to give you solid fundamentals to work with. While you may not be able to memorize every single spot, you’ll develop a good feeling for shapes of ranges in different situations, and the more you work with these charts, the better you’ll become at it.
As you would expect from an in-depth cash game course, the postflop strategy section is the most extensive one. With stacks often so deep, it is after the flop that many tricky spots arise, and you’ll need to learn how to tackle each one of them.
The good news is that Nick covers almost every strategic segment you can think of in three large main spots, namely:
- Single-raised pots
- 3-bet pots
- Multiway pots
There is a lot of content in this section, so I won’t try to go into detail on individual lessons. Suffices it to say that you’ll get very deep insights on building your c-betting strategy, check-raising, turn-barreling spots, and much more.
All explanations are based on poker software such as solvers, and Petrangelo takes the time to go through many different spots using particular hand examples to bring home a more general point.
One thing that must be said is that you shouldn’t watch these videos when you’re tired or distracted.
To get the true value from these lessons, you’ll need to focus, take notes, and really get into it.
If you have some experience working with solvers, this will come much more naturally. If not, it will take you some time to adjust to this way of studying, but it will be worth it.
Coaching Brad Owen
The Coaching Brad Owen section is perhaps the most interesting part of the Smash Live Cash course by Upswing Poker. If you follow poker, you probably know Brad Owen is a well-known vlogger who records his live cash game play and turns it into interesting YouTube content.
You may have heard Owen mention that he was being coached by Nick Petrangelo in a few of these videos as well.
This course section covers that coaching journey as Owen seeks to optimize his play and extend his knowledge of the GTO poker strategy.
It is both educational and fun to watch. The first few videos in the section consist of Petrangelo giving Brad tips on adjusting his opening ranges. They go through different preflop scenarios together and using the power of solvers, they come up with actionable strategies.
The next few videos cover Brad’s live hands as the two sit down to dissect them to the smallest detail.
First, they talk about the hand, bouncing thoughts and ideas off of each other. Then, they open a solver and look into what computers have to say.
This approach provides a lot of great value, as you are not stuck just with numbers, stats, and frequencies.
You also get to hear how one of the best players in the game thinks about these different spots and how he then takes these individual spots and makes them universal.
On his part, Owen has a lot of valuable insights, too. As someone who’s been playing in these live games for a long time now, he has a lot of knowledge about general player tendencies, live reads, and many subtle things that can come into play during any given session.
According to Owen, these training sessions with Petrangelo have helped him grow a lot as a player, leading to some of his biggest wins on the felt and giving him the confidence he needed to tackle higher-stakes games with tougher opponents, including the likes of Phil Ivey.
He also says this knowledge came in very handy during the early stages of tournaments, helping him improve his results in that arena as well, even if tournaments aren’t necessarily his bread and butter.
Smash Live Cash Play & Explains
The Play & Explain section is usually the most entertaining one in any Upswing course, as it provides a break from dry theory and takes on actual poker hands viewed in the light of everything that’s been discussed throughout the course.
Nick takes the time to dive into these hands, though, dissecting every important decision and trying to explain it from different perspectives.
In addition to talking about math, he also tries to cover some of the table talk and behavior, all of which are things that come into play in live cash games and make them much different from online play.
Summary: Is Smash Live Cash Right for You?
Being successful at live cash games isn’t easy. You may even be a winning player at $1/2 or $2/5, but as you try to move up, you notice you struggle as the opposition gets tougher.
If you aspire to break that barrier and get into higher-stakes games, the only way to do it is by expanding your knowledge and becoming a better player yourself. That simply won’t happen magically on its own.
Smash Live Cash by Upswing Poker gives you all the tools you need to understand live games on a much deeper level and helps build working strategies to overall any obstacles that can come your way.
The preflop charts help you quickly learn the best decisions for different stack depths, and Nick’s detailed explanations of every postflop spot imaginable will help you develop the kind of thinking you’ll need as you move up the stakes.
You’ll have the confidence to take on even the best poker players out there, as you’ll know that your fundamentals are unshakable.
It all breaks down to how much effort you put in yourself, but Smash Live Cash can almost guarantee to make you a better player if you put some work into it. Take a look inside and see for yourself!