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Climbing the Poker Ladder
It's great when new players come to the poker school and taste some success early on. One such player is Matthew 'MattieMackz' Mackenzie who finished in the top ten of the Initiation level during his first month of playing The League. Mattie was also the top Canadian player in that leader-board too. This was a fantastic achievement by a relatively new player to the game. Let's find out a little more about him...

My name is Matthew Mackenzie, I am 33 y/o and live on Vancouver Island, just outside of Victoria, B.C., Canada. I work in the construction industry doing interior finishing in new residential homes and complexes. We are in the middle of a construction boom here on the island so work has been keeping me very busy lately. I wish I had more time to play poker! But of course, life must come first. I only have time to play a few hours a day during the week, so the turbo structure and starting times for The League games fit perfectly into my schedule.

I have only recently started to play poker earlier this year, so you could say I am pretty much a complete beginner. I have never played NLHE poker live before, and up until about July of this year I had never played an MTT either, freeroll or otherwise. I discovered NLHE when a friend of mine was playing a Play Money Poker app on his phone and invited me to play. I instantly enjoyed the game and started to play in my spare time. I was not so good at the start, but I kept trying my best and trying new things and eventually by trial and error alone, I was able to run up a very large bankroll playing fullring cash games with play chips.

MattieMackz finished 8th overall in his first month of playing The League

At this point I had figured if I could win so easy at the play money tables, then I could surely do good at the real money rooms. I signed up at my first poker room and quickly realized that the style of play was completely different then what I had become accustomed too at the play money tables. At the play money tables, you would be playing almost every hand against multiple people, most of which would "limp" into the pot and would play any two cards. Even at the smallest stakes of NL2, I had a hard time adjusting. I then took the time to start to learn a better strategy, this is when I discovered PokerStars School.

I realized that I was playing like what people in the poker community would call a "fish", playing too many hands and not being aware of the position at the table. The strategy content provided here at PokerStars School has helped my game considerably. I learned the starting hand charts, the importance of the position at the table and found many interesting articles on more advanced strategy and tournament play. There was a "Beginners Bankroll Challenge" which was very intuitive and had great challenges and tests on various topics from cash games to tournament play. Using what I learned, I used the school pass tickets and played freerolls I was able to practice my play at MTT's. I found this style of poker much more exciting over the normal cash games. Within the first week of signing up to the school, I was already starting to do well in the school pass events, winning prizes such as $3.30 tournament tickets and Spin and Go tickets. I was even able to win the satellite to the Big Bang Main Event and got a top 100 finish. I watch the Team PRO's Lex Veldhuis, Jeff Gross and Ben Spragg on the Twitch whenever I could. It really helps to understand the game a lot by watching how the professional players play the game.

I started playing The League in the middle of August. I did not have enough time in the month to play every game, so I made the most of it and used it as practice for the coming month. September was my first full month to play and it started off with a bang. I came in 2nd my very first game, almost winning the tournament but fell victim to a bad river card. It was a roller coaster month. I was in 2nd place after the first 17 games having finished ITM in 10/17 games with 5 finishes Top 22 or better. The second half of the month did not go so well and I fell back into 21st place after busting in 12 of 14 games. It came down to my final game and the very last game of the month to try and make my way back. I ended up having a great game going out in 13th place, just short of the final table after having my Aces cracked. This moved me up 13 positions to 8th place and capped off what was a very exhilarating month of poker. It is my understanding that these are the first months of the new league format and it is not only open to new school members such as myself, but it is open to all school members, so there is likely many more experienced players in the field as well as beginners. I am quite proud of my accomplishment of finishing in 8th place in the league.

A 2nd place finish in his first tournament got MattieMackz off to a flying start.

I will play very tight during the start of the tournament and try to access my opponents to see if they are playing tight or loose and look for a good opportunity to make some easy chips. When the blinds go up, I will open my hand range up, especially if I have a stack built up and start to put more pressure on the smaller stacks. I will try to avoid any situation where I am out of position unless I have a very nice starting hand.

For any beginners who are just starting out, the best advise I can give would be to learn about your position at the table, and to not play so many hands. I know as a beginner you want to play any suited hand or any hand with a Face Cards, but you will find you will do much better by only playing the better hands. It will lead to fewer situations where you have a marginal hand and can't find the fold button, and more situations where you win the pot. Take every game you play seriously.. even if it is a free buy-in.

I hope to make enough T$ from playing in the initiation league to be able to play in the masters league once my initiation pass expires at the end of November. I will be playing again in October and I will be looking for my first tournament win.

I look forward to this coming month of The League, I hope to see a lot of new faces at the tables.
Do you have any advice for new players playing tournaments? Comment below!

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