In 2023, live poker is back and booming. Tournament fields are reaching the heights of the Moneymaker heyday and cash table waitlists are filling up fast. Now more than ever, it feels necessary for poker players to be sharpening up their live play.
At CrushLivePoker, Bart Hanson and company are focused on bringing you the tools to do just that. In their full-length Crushing Live NL Hold’em (2023 and Beyond) course, green and experienced players both are provided the fundamentals of attacking the felt exploitatively and with a foundation of game theory optimal fundamentals. Let’s dive into what this expansive course has to offer.
Crushing Live NL Hold’Em Overview
Make no mistake, this course will keep you busy. Clocking in at over 50 hours of content, this course is split into six modules with nearly 80 lessons in all. Modules available include Basic Concepts, Definitive Guide to Small Stakes Exploits, Winning at the Low Stakes, Continuation Betting, Winning at the High and Upper Mid Stakes, and Intermediate Concepts. While the range of materials targets a wide range of live players, the entire course has merit no matter your experience level. Whether you are a grizzled veteran or not, each module offers over 6.5 hours of content to explore.
No matter the module, this course is built around getting value and making exploits. There are areas that focus on the game theory optimal (GTO) fundamentals, but Crush Live Poker’s NLH course is uniquely focused on using that base of knowledge to identify your opponent’s playing style and extract the most value possible.
The course is split between video and audio presentations. There is a slight lean toward audio, and those lessons typically come equipped with PDFs that summarize the discussion from lesson to lesson. These PDFs are more of a reference than intended for taking in the information initially. I would recommend consuming the content as intended first throughout. As a primarily visual learner, I found the audio lessons to still be helpful and consumable. Anyone familiar with CrushLivePoker’s YouTube content will feel right at home as a listener here.
If you are a live poker player, or are looking to start, I can make it simple upfront: you are going to like this course. Online players will find live exploits that are far different than their typical expectations online. CLP’s course does a great job of bridging that gap and explaining when and why the deviations from GTO play are necessary. There is no doubt that the course provides plenty of value in making the transition to the live realm.
Best of all, Cardplayer Lifestyle can offer you an exclusive discount on purchasing the course, as you’ll get 20% off the price (i.e., a savings of up to $10 off/month or $100 off/year) by registering through any of the links in this review article.
Let’s dive into the individual sections for a deeper look at what is being offered.
Basic Concepts (13 Lessons, 9 hours)
This course wastes no time throwing users right into the action, beginning with basic concepts for beating live poker. Clocking in at just over 9 hours, you can watch this section and feel familiar with old wisdom and adages in the live poker environment.
The Basic Concepts section does focus on common truths, you will need prior experience playing poker in order to absorb the information. Bart and the Crush Live Poker team start with situations that any player will recognize. But the lessons are told through the lens of hand histories and veteran poker lingo that will require some level of experience to understand.
Instead of teaching you how to play poker, this section focuses on teaching you to play good exploitative poker. Sections on equity, preflop theory, and common leaks in live poker aim to open an experienced player’s eyes to ways the best players are evaluating their opponents and taking advantage of them. This culminates in the Epic Guide to Preflop, a four part audio lesson series that ties everything together through the last three hours or so of this section.
Preflop play is so essential in any form of poker, and I love that this course emphasizes its importance. The lessons work to teach solid fundamentals like playing tight and aggressive against early position opens, linear 3-betting against players that never fold, etc. while also finding opportunities to exploit them. Given that preflop is the most solved, scientific street of poker, Bart and company have done an excellent job of breaking down the textbook fundamentals and teaching players to recognize when it is time to color outside the lines.
- Why So Much (Old School Still True) (22:44 Audio)
- Betting Volume; Why So Much Revisited (41:58 Video)
- Revisited New School Preflop Thoughts (53:17 Audio)
- Common Leaks in Live Poker (50:03 Video)
- 5th Street Chicken Revisited (51:38 Audio)
- Depolarization Revisited (44:38 Audio)
- Why Suited Hands Are Better (35:24 Audio)
- Equity Math (45:56 Audio)
- A Simple Way to Look at the Math of Draws and Implied Odds (34:45 Audio)
- Epic Guide to Preflop Part 1 (48:43 Audio)
- Epic Guide to Preflop Part 2 (38:03 Audio)
- Epic Guide to Preflop Part 3 (36:04 Audio)
- Epic Guide to Preflop Part 4 (38:16 Audio)
Definitive Guide to Small Stakes Exploits (10 Lessons, 6.5 hours)
For many users, I imagine this section of the course will be your bread and butter. Have you ever played low-stakes live cash in a casino, looked around the table and asked, “How am I not up piles right now?” Then this is the section for you. Crush Live Poker’s Guide to Small Stakes Exploits is a crash course in taking the most recognizable low-stakes characters to Value Town.
This is your guide to getting paid by the player that can’t fold the top pair, that is ready to go home, etc. Making bets that are meant to look bluffy, catering to the type of player that just has to see. It’s the foundation that Bart Hanson’s live call-in show is built on, and he proves his expertise all throughout this section.
Some of my favorite exploits include double barrelling vs. weak calling ranges, overfolding later streets to raises, and isolating players for heads up pots. I won’t share all of the exploits here, but this is an area where I feel the course excels. My one nitpick is that I do wish that this section had video elements. Physical live tells come up often at low stakes, and I think it would be beneficial to point out key visual elements during these hands as well.
- Intro to Small Stakes Exploits Guide (28:44 Audio)
- Exploits 1-3 (39:58 Audio)
- Exploits 4-6 (45:05 Audio)
- Exploits 7-9 (47:20 Audio)
- Exploits 10-12 (44:49 Audio)
- Exploit 13 (56:08 Audio)
- Exploit 14 (21:23 Audio)
- Exploits 15-16 (40:52 Audio)
- Exploits 17-19 (31:13 Audio)
- Exploits 20-22 (43:20 Audio)
WINNING at the Low Stakes (11 Lessons, 11.75 hours)
It’s like the Crush Live Poker team could read my mind. In this section, the course takes a full turn into video analysis.
With nearly 12 hours of video content, the course is dead set on showing you exactly what they meant with their previous exploits section. It’s nice to take a turn to real live stakes action that we can watch and see play out for ourselves. While I would have loved to see more video content spliced into the previous section, it makes sense to have these situations learned through audio first. Learning to recognize the broad situations and mechanics, before you read a specific player, is almost a solver-like approach to learning to exploit in poker.
This section’s focus on a play and explain video style will be a welcome sight to many users that need a break from concepts and textbook learning. Watching Bart and others play at low stakes will provide a relatable element that can draw anyone in whose poker mind may have begun to wander. Covering many common spots like loose tables, bet sizing, and 3-bet pots, these situations will be familiar to any avid player watching.
- Back to Basics in a Small Stakes Cash Game (1:04:53 Video)
- Bart Plays a Loose Live Game Part 1 (1:10:36 Video)
- Bart Plays a Loose Live Game Part 2 (1:04:05 Video)
- Bet Sizing Errors at Low Stakes (1:00:08 Video)
- Run Don’t Walk to Jacksonville (1:09:18 Video)
- Low Stakes Bet Sizing Shotgun (57:01 Video)
- Post Flop Play in 3 Bet Pots (Low Stakes) (56:29 Video)
- Post Flop Play in 3 Bet Pots (Low Stakes) Part 2 (58:24 Video)
- Jacksonville Small Stakes Series Part 1 (1:03:52 Video)
- Jacksonville Small Stakes Series Part 2 (1:08:23 Video)
- Jacksonville Small Stakes Series Part 3 (1:13:55 Video)
Continuation Betting (9 Lessons, 7.5 hours)
Now halfway through the course, things begin to take a turn toward the more advanced concepts. As stated earlier, the preflop street is a bit more scientific. It’s a street that is intricate but able to be mastered given the time and practice. Combine those skills with exploitative adjustments and you can become quite a menace before the flop. But continuation betting adds layers of complexity that the Crush Live Poker team unravels across this 7.5 hour section.
This section is built on a situational foundation that all NL players can recognize: going multiway to the flop as the initial raiser and missing. One of the common things any solid player learns early on is that attacking postflop, even without connecting, is key to earning chips. It’s too hard to make a hand, so you cannot depend on running pure. But here, Hanson lays out what he refers to as his Cbet Bluff Matrix of guiding principles to decide if a c-bet is well-timed. These seven considerations range from the number of players in the pot, their skill level, board textures and more, all of which is broken down in detail across two audio episodes. This is followed up by a video of examples from Hustler Casino Live that shows the thinking in action.
The later lessons in this section are audio heavy but extremely detailed, covering a variety of flops and situations. I would highly recommend following along with the lesson guides to visualize the situation easily. With that in mind, this section is among the best content in the course. Preflop is the foundation of any good poker play, but building your ability as a postflop player will take you far ahead of your competition in most poker rooms. This course’s dedication to the importance of c-betting is a highlight that should not be missed.
This section gets a bit more advanced. I feel like finding preflop 3bets for value and as bluffs, and c-betting certain flops lay the groundwork for good experienced players. Finding your barrels is a skill that separates good players from great players. Here, the course dives deep on this concept from a variety of angles. This is one of the most impressive sections of the course to this point and I would highly recommend it for any players that feel uncomfortable bluffing on later streets.
- Cbet Bluff Matrix (50:07 Audio)
- Cbet Bluffing Matrix Revisited (54:59 Audio)
- Bart’s Cbet Cusps Hands (1:02:05 Video)
- Cbetting Ultra Multiway (44:50 Audio)
- Cbetting 3 Bet Pots (27:08 Audio)
- Cbet Structuring in Single Raised Pots Part 1 (39:48 Audio)
- Cbet Structuring in Single Raised Pots Part 2 (51:01 Audio)
- Cbet Structuring in Single Raised Pots Part 3 (1:07:36 Audio)
- Cbetting the Unclear Hands and Finding Your Bluffs (58:34 Video)
WINNING at the High and Upper Stakes (9 Lessons, 8.25 hours)
Now is the time to start reaching for every player’s dreams: playing at the high stakes and raking in massive pots against stiff competition. While the highs may be alluring, it is a different playing field than low stakes players will be used to. This section prepares those that have mastered the low stakes fundamentals for the challenges ahead.
Here is where the course really starts to come full circle. In a poker landscape still caught up in debate over GTO vs Feel Play, CrushLivePoker recognizes that the answer is always situational. Having a solver baseline to default to is key. The best players in the world live and breathe this approach. But even intermediate players at your local cardroom will understand the basics. Having a strong counter to these opponents is essential. What the team does so well here is recognize that you will not be playing that player type consistently. Using solver based play to your advantage and exploiting it is a great way to get ahead of your toughest opponents while still crushing the fish at your tables.
With a variety of dense topics like 4-bet pots, changing playing style based on opponents, and firing that huge bluff, the course leans back into video lessons for this entire section. It’s a wise choice, as most users will begin watching as beginner to intermediate players. In earlier sections, audio lessons work because the subject matter is familiar enough to come across clearly in conversation. But here, the team understands that they are training players to go to war in battles they aren’t used to fighting. Getting detailed breakdowns of these situations with play-by-play video analysis is a much appreciated creative direction from this part of the course.
No matter your skill level, I believe any player has a lot to gain from this leg of the course.
- Why GTO Wins Big Even in Soft Lineups (48:57 Video)
- How to Max Exploit Using a Solver (40:52 Video)
- How to Play 4bet Pots: A Primer (47:42 Video)
- Playing Disrespectfully vs a Fish (43:32 Video)
- Pulling the Trigger on Huge Bluffs (59:19 Video)
- Playing as Mariano on HCL (50:05 Video)
- Ki Shotgun 25-50 NL (1:09:49 Video)
- To GTO or Not GTO (49:59 Video)
- Bart’s 10-20-40 NL Leak Finder (1:27:37 Video)
Intermediate Concepts (8 Lessons, 7 hours)
It’s funny to talk about nearly seven hours of content as the quick outro, but in the final content section, we start to see CrushLivePoker tie up some loose ends.
The Intermediate Concepts section is a mixed bag of tools that need to be in competitive player’s arsenals. That is the closest connecting thread between these concepts, as each lesson examines a distinct area of play from the others. Here you will learn about challenging concepts like overbetting, recognizing scare cards, and compile a full checklist for recognizing opponent types.
Each lesson is thorough, typically closer to an hour in length. As we near the end of this course, it is hard not to see this as the taste of what is still to come for those hoping to advance their game further. Intermediate Concepts feels like a great sampler platter of poker lessons meant to tease out what may be available in a future advanced level course. These are great introductions to tougher concepts, and I would be interested to see how they expand on these areas should they choose to in the future.
- Big Blind vs PFR Single Raised Pot (57:11 Video)
- Hand Composition (59:53 Video)
- A Look at Overbetting (56:59 Video)
- What is a Scare Card? (40:54 Audio)
- Pot Odds in Practice (1:08:24 Video)
- Noticing Opponents: A Checklist (16:10 Audio)
- Power of Next to Act (57:33 Video)
- On Continuing (56:15 Video)
Over 50 hours of content later, was it all worth it?
Poker is a complex game, but it does not require players to practice or study. People can freely play at their own risk, gamble it up and win or lose. Ultimately, it is the players who put a lot of time and work into their play that win consistently.
If you are a player that prefers live poker, you likely are familiar with a lot of things discussed here. The typical cast of player types. Bet sizings that should sound alarms. Multiway action on many flops. But if you want to take this game seriously, whether as a hobby or profession, this is a great place to begin to hone your skills. Plus, by clicking through our exclusive discount links anywhere in this article, 20% off will automatically be applied at checkout for a savings of up to $10 off/month or $100 off/year.
As someone that admires the highest level of poker play and has aimed to study like those pros in the past, I really appreciate this course’s focus on getting value at a variety of attainable stakes for the common player. We can all learn a lot trying to play like the best. But your time is almost certainly put to better use learning how to exploit the everyman. Crushing Live No Limit Hold’Em has made this idea its namesake, and this course lives up to the task.
Completing this course felt like a journey from interested hobbyist to fully capable opponent. The content is delivered in a way that players with any level of experience can relate to and learn from quickly. As long as you are looking to play in casinos, or in person with your friends, I think this course is a perfect place for you to start your journey learning the ins and outs of live poker.