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Sports & Gaming

Preflop and Blind Defense

Phil Ivey

Lesson time 19:55 min

Phil breaks down the importance of table position, debunks a common misconception about hand-range charts, and shares tips for defending the blinds.

Phil Ivey
Teaches Poker Strategy
Phil Ivey opens up for the first time about his poker strategy and teaches you how to make smarter moves at the table.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] PHIL IVEY (VOICEOVER): A solid understanding of preflop play is crucial for any player. Remember, most of your hands are going to be won or lost before the flop even comes down. You really need to learn how to use position to your advantage, which hands to play, and definitely which hands to get away from. Master preflop and you're in the game. ANNOUNCER 1: Match is on Phil. - 500. ANNOUNCER 1: Ivey takes it down with a preflop four-bet. PHIL IVEY (VOICEOVER): Position in hold'em is one of the most important aspects of the game because it dictates who has to act first and who gets to act last. If you're seated to the right of the button or on the button, you're in late position, and you get to act last. If you're seated to the left of the button, you're in early position, and you have to act first. Since the game is played in clockwise order, usually the player to your left has position on you, while you have position on the player to your right. The rare exceptions are when you and your opponent is seated on the button or in the blinds. Everything becomes more simplified when you are in position because you gain valuable information by seeing how the opponents in front of you play their hands. If you watch the better players, usually they're acting in position. OK? So they're three-betting, they're isolating, with position. A lot of times, you can have a worse hand, but you can have position, and that will give you the advantage in the pot. And that's because they have to act first. Say, you know, you have a hand like 10-9, and they have a hand like ace-10. And the flop comes queen-8-3. And they check, now you bet, and it becomes very difficult for them to play because, you know, standard for them to do is-- when they act first-- is to check. Now they don't have no choice but to fold. And you end up winning the hand with the worse hand because you have position on the hand. So I think that's a pretty clear example of how position matters. Out of position is a lot more trickier than playing in position. It's much more a delicate of a situation. So you just need to be a lot more careful. I think you need to have a much stronger hand when you call or reraise out of position. You need to know when to four-bet if your hand's not as good or if your hand's stronger than them, if you think they're going to continue playing. For example, under the gun, a nine-handed game-- my guess, it would open ace clean. I would open two 8s or above, two 7s maybe, sometimes depending upon the players. Usually, I like to look around the table and see who looks at their cards first-- you know, see if I can get some sort of read off of whether they're interested in their hand or not. I do that sometimes. Well, yeah, I play pretty snug under the gun because I think position is very important. It's a lot more important than people think it is. [MUSIC PLAYING] Most players have a set of guidelines of what hands...

Inside the mind of a champion

At age 38, Phil Ivey became the youngest player to win 10 World Series of Poker bracelets. Now the man known for his enigmatic table presence—and widely regarded as the world’s best all-around poker player—gives you unprecedented access to his mental game. Learn poker strategy, pick up new poker tips, and review hands with the player who’s won more than $26 million in live tournament earnings.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great workbook and study guide for a beginner. Advanced also. Great compliment to Daniel Negreanu's Master Class; no real overlap and concise.

Need more player like I very doing this and talking together and different thoughts of playing like a classroom

Ivey is a brilliant individual and poker player. This class gave me great insight into his thought process, strategy, & view of the game I love.

my poker game has improved technically from language to style of play.


Patrick C.

After hearing Phil explain why he plays small suited connectors/gappers from certain positions, I gave it a try with a hand I'd normally fold and got instant results! Ha!

Stephen K.

You definitely learn a lot more about yourself at the table when you evaluate your bad plays, I'm glad Ivey is taking that approach. It's a better method to explain "Here's what I did wrong and here's what I should've done instead." So far, a really good introduction to position play!

A fellow student

Unless i'm missing something I was lost after the first 2 minutes of the video. I'm a complete beginner with no previous poker experience so I have no clue what terms like 'under the gun' and 'flop' mean. I was expecting something of an introduction into what the rules of the game are and what the hands are. There's none of that from this first lesson. I went onto YouTube and just watched some free videos which gave me a better introduction than this. Disappointing start.

A fellow student

I particularly loved this example as it's not a situation of "i did a, then b, then c, and that's why I won". It's absolutely the opposite. We learn more from our mistakes than with our successes.

Thomas P.

I enjoyed seeing a hand that the pro considers to be a mistake whereas most pros show the "good" hands where they won a lot. Great hand analysis in this lesson.

A fellow student

Can anyone tell me where i can find out more about Pot Odds in chapter 2 of the workbook (as stated at 5:23)? I've tried searching for it with no success. :(


The producer needs to do their homework and learn what the difference is between trips and a set.


Question: In this scenario, if you think that your opponent's range includes Aces up, then I don't see why folding upon the re-raise on the turn is not an option? I understand that Ivey has half of chips committed in the hand and I'm not sure what the blinds are at the time of the hand but I would think that folding is not completely out of the picture. I am asking because the commentators said "Ivey has to call" and I wonder if Ivey (and others ) agree.

A fellow student

So I gather that Phil is saying to defend suited 1 gap cards. His example of 52c he calls a mistake but defends saying he would have easily played 53c,

Steven L.

Hi Louis , I play at Foxwoods, and soon I will be adding Encore in Everett. At Foxwoods I play 1/2 NLHE and when venture to Encore I will need to play 1/3 , I know these levels are low , But.. the way I have seen play recently , I would say you need in your mind put them on the widest range of connected and connected suited cards pre flop. Then funnel it down post flop to the river. Pre flop hands have gotten very wide in today's play. Players are also limping in at 1/2 with K's and Aces to trap or re-raise .