Updated: July 2020
With a name like Pokercode, your first visit to the website and entering your username and password feels like opening a vault. A vault that has tremendous value in it provided by none other than German ´prince of the high rollers´ Fedor Holz and high stakes crusher Matthias Eibinger. Holz and Eibinger did their very best to produce top-notch content. The content is shot in an amazing studio with Holz walking you through every little piece of information they give you. It feels as if Holz is your personal coach, letting you in on all the little secrets that made him millions and millions of dollars over the last couple of years.
Personally, I felt a bit scared starting it all up as I had never done any poker study before this course. This was going to be my first proper go at becoming a better poker player. The course started out very welcoming, with Fedor referencing a book outside of poker that helped him get in the proper mindset. That one word — MINDSET — is something he talks about a lot in the first couple of videos and that sets the tone for what you will eventually learn during the course. Right from the get-go I immediately began to feel some sort of change happening in my head that motivated me to tackle this entire course and become a better player.
Holz is very clear that this course is based on GTO play, but he will also teach you how to adjust your strategy so you can exploit your opponents and their weaknesses. He does have separate videos at the end of most sections of the course that illustrate how Fedor himself adjusts and deviates from GTO strategy to exploit his opponents even more.
The Pokercode training course consists of three parts, and the first part begins with a general introduction called “Getting Started: Pre-flop.” After the introduction we begin diving headfirst in the first bits of poker strategy, and — WOW — we zoom from 0 to 100 really quickly! I have to admit that I was pretty overwhelmed by the rapid-fire of information that was given over in the first couple of sections.
Before going any further, let’s break down the Pokercode training course by the numbers:
- 3 parts
- 17 sections
- 65 lessons
- 8+ hours of video content
- 2 brilliant minds (Fedor and Matthias)
- 1 brilliant host instructor (Fedor)
- 1 hurting brain at the end (mine!)
Getting Started: Pre-flop
The first part of the course consists of 24 videos varying from a couple of minutes to about 15 minutes in length. The videos are split up into five sections:
- Pre-flop Fundamentals
- How to Defend the Blinds
- Playing in Position
- Facing 3-Bets
All sections contain multiple videos and after each video there’s a quiz. The questions are either multiple choice or true/false and you will get 1, 3, or 5 points depending on how many tries it takes you to give the correct answer.
If you don’t get the answer after three tries, you have the option to skip the question, but you are actively encouraged to re-watch the video. It’s really critical to understand the first part of the course before moving on to the next part. I must admit that I had to re-watch some of the videos because there was just too much information for me to absorb. This might not be the case for most students, but since I had never studied poker properly before it was a bit overwhelming.
The first couple of quizzes I did were manageable, but the deeper I dove into the course the tougher the questions ended up being. At first, I didn’t even realize I was able to skip the questions so I just re-watched the videos, which I feel is a good thing. Fedor explains at the beginning of the course that your pre-flop mistakes can do more damage when you continue post-flop. Like most players, ideally I want to get better at poker quickly. That’s why I felt it was great for Pokercode to encourage that you get the pre-flop fundamentals straight before hopping over to the post-flop section. Just like in poker, you can’t force the action!
I internalized an important thing from this course, namely that there is no shortcut to getting better: you must learn one video and one concept at a time. The quizzes helped to give me a great idea as to whether I had correctly understood the concepts being taught. It’s one thing to understand the rationale given for decision-making in one specific situation. It’s another thing entirely to be able to understand the underlying decision-making rationale and be able to apply it to all situations that come up at the poker table.
Disclaimer: Complicated strategy ahead!
I feel it’s important to note that the Pokercode training course is not designed for beginners. You need to have a good understanding of the game or you’re going to have a tough time understanding what Fedor is talking about. Also, you need to be more than “just a little bit motivated” to learn and improve your game because these videos are not made for casual, passive viewing. Focus is required and the subject matter being taught is very tough, but there is tremendous value in making the effort to study properly. That said, it would’ve been good to see some sort of disclaimer at the start that this course can get complicated.
After about one hour of study, I started to feel a bit of information overload, so I quit for the day and started again with a fresh head the following day. There’s a lesson in there for you if you’re thinking of purchasing Pokercode: don’t think that you can just zip through all 8+ hours of poker training content in one day. Your head will explode! You’ve got to give yourself enough time to process and internalize each of the lessons before moving on to the next steps and videos.
Once you reach the “How to Defend the Blinds” portion of the course, you’ll for the first time be exposed to… Charts! Glorious charts! Fedor will explain to you how the charts work and in which situations they’re relevant. While charts might be a familiar sight to many poker players, they still scared me a little bit as I had never taken such a deep dive into poker strategy before. The charts not only tell you what actions to take and when, but also how frequently you should take a certain action. I understood these general concepts pretty quickly, but figuring out specifically how the charts were supposed to work kind of rattled me in a way that I didn’t expect when I started the course.
For me, this was my first time actively learning about frequencies, and I finally came to understand what “balancing” meant. (Spoiler: It’s not standing on one foot and trying not to fall over.) I had to watch and re-watch the videos multiple times to understand what Fedor was telling me, and — once again — the quizzes helped me gauge whether I properly understood the concepts being taught.
Adaptation is the Name of the Game
At the end of some lecture sessions, Holz will share with you his personal adaptations to the GTO strategy. He will explain how he adjusts his playing style to exploit his opponents, which gives you the tools to do so yourself. This is where I feel there’s a lot of the value in Pokercode. You can learn GTO poker from many different coaching websites, but Fedor Holz sharing his personal tips, tricks, and exploits is something else and felt incredible to watch. Watching those videos on the train where he explains how he personally adapts gave me the feeling that I needed to cover up the screen on my laptop. It felt as if I was watching porn on the train and no one else should be allowed to see what was on my screen.
I noticed some changes in the way I approach playing poker after I was done with the first part of Pokercode. Fedor gives you the right tools to start thinking in terms of ranges rather than just specific hands. I was aware that the top pros do this, but I had no clue how to exactly approach it and start doing so myself. Since I’ve begun using Pokercode I do think I have a better understanding of this concept. I’ve also started to feel more and more sure of what to do in certain spots, which has been a personal breakthrough. I used to sort of guess with my decision-making and never used to analyze any spots after the fact. Now I’ve started asking myself the right questions that help me arrive at what I believe is the best decision, with increasing speed.
The next part of the course consists of six sections with a total of 22 videos. This is where I started to struggle a little bit, but I am already looking forward to re-watching most of these videos to get a better understanding. There’s just so much valuable information to master!
This is also the point where the videos begin getting longer; few of them are shorter than 10 minutes at this point. Within the Pokercode training course itself, the videos are labeled as easy, medium, and hard. All of these post-flop sections are labeled hard, and I understand why. There are lots of charts and Fedor presents multiple situations where we can choose to deviate from GTO strategy.
Fedor tackles short-stacked examples, deep stacked examples, looser opponents, tighter opponents, and more. Ranges are examined thoroughly, as well as where and how we can decide to deviate from optimal play. I managed to get through the first video, but the next ones made my head spin. Video is the optimal medium, and the Pokercode lessons are extremely well-produced, but it really takes maximum concentration to try and keep up with Fedor as he goes through the charts and different situations. (I guess if this were easy, everyone would be beasting tournaments and winning millions, right?)
Processing Raw Information
As far as my personal study process, like I mentioned already, I had to pause videos multiple times and re-watch. Even so, I found myself failing the quizzes. While it’s a frustrating process, this did motivate me to keep learning and improving; and this has been happening slowly but surely. That’s what “getting in the lab” to study is all about!
Once again, it’s important to clarify that Pokercode is not a course for beginners or amateurs who just enjoy playing recreationally!
As I progressed through the course’s additional Post-flop sections including: The Turn, The River, 3-Bet Pots, Blind Versus Blind, and Multi-way I noticed that while on the one hand the videos were getting tougher and tougher, their value kept rising At a certain point, I doubled back to review some of the pre-flop sections, so I could get a better understanding of ranges again. This certainly helped in terms of my processing the post-flop lessons. I even started getting more answers right on the quizzes.
One thing I’d recommend: don’t implement a certain strategy in your game yet if you don’t fully understand the concept of why you should implement it in your game.
Next-level Poker Instruction from a Next-level Player
When I try to teach my girlfriend how to play poker, she sometimes says that I explain it in a way that is already too complicated for her. Taking the Pokercode course by Fedor finally made me truly understand what that means. I had a tough time keeping up with the course! That’s not to say that Fedor doesn’t explain things well, but rather that the material itself is just very dense and complex. Even so, I think I have tons to gain by taking the course.
I admit that it likely takes me longer to understand all the concepts than it does a medium or high stakes crusher. Even so, in poker it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach the finish line, so long as you eventually get there. Pokercode will get you there! You just need to pay close attention to every lesson as you keep building your personal knowledge base.
Perhaps “finish line” isn’t the right term though, as I’m unsure if you can actually finish this course. I feel like Pokecode is a course that keeps on giving and continues to maintain its value, even if you have already watched the videos and lectures multiple times. You can really get in Fedor´s head throughout this course and it truly feels as if he is your personal coach.
The Pokercode – Start Crushing Now
This is the part of the course where things got fun for me once again. Winning at poker isn’t just about GTO strategy; it’s about mindset, your behavior at the table, tells, and other important information like how to deal with ICM. This last part of Pokercode consists of four lessons and a combined 19 videos.
First, you’ll learn about ICM, which is a critical subject for tournament players to understand. After explaining the idea, Fedor guides you through how ICM can be applied to your game, and then how to adjust your game after taking into account ICM considerations. Even if you think you have a good understanding of ICM, I’m pretty certain that after watching the six videos in this part of the course you’ll have learned a lot. In other words, whether you’re a starting pro or already an advanced player, there’s value to be had here.
The next lesson, entitled “live game” was my absolute favorite. The videos here take you through all the different aspects of live poker that you don’t have playing online. One of these is obviously trying to profile players and to see if you can spot any tells. After demonstrating how to spot tells, Fedor also teaches you how to mask your own tells and elaborates on the importance of table image. It was quite fun to watch, and really made me eager to hit the tables! I felt sad when this part of the course ended and there were no additional videos of this category to watch.
In the very first Pokercode video, Fedor explains that poker is not only about how you play but also about how you approach the game in general. To point, in the four “Off the Felt” videos of this part of the course, Fedor provides you with some tools to improve on mindset, game selection, and bankroll management. While I imagine that most people that this course is targeted at would already have that bit sorted out, it’s still an important part of the overall Pokercode course.
Finally, Pokercode ends with three videos focused on practical play. After a brief introduction, we go through a couple live poker hands together with Fedor. The video pauses at the appropriate points so that you, the student, can try and work things out for yourself. Only after giving you a moment to think things through does play resume to see how Fedor would tackle the situations. With time, Fedor will keep adding additional hands to this section, and I feel that that offers even more incredible value that makes purchasing Pokercode a truly worthwhile investment.
While I’m sure there’s plenty for cash game specialists to take away, the course is focused on tournament players, as illustrated by Fedor talking about situations that are 20, 40, 60, or 100 big blinds deep. The videos are impeccably well-produced and easily navigable. The quizzes at the end give you a good grasp of how well you understand a certain concept and you can always re-watch a video as many times as you’d like to improve further. This poker training course isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested in learning how to play tournament poker at the very best level, you should definitely give Pokercode try.