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It's Fun Winning The League!
In this Winners Wall interview we catch up with Gareth 'shadyginzo' Williams who only recently joined PokerStars School and took the honors of winning the Initiation League during March. We ask him about his poker journey and what this win means to him.

PokerStars School: Tell us a little about yourself, what's your background, where do you come from, age, job, etc...
Hi, I'm Gareth, I'm 33 and I come from the UK. I work as a public servant. I live in an area of Wales that doesn't have much of a poker scene so home games are about all the live action I see. The rest of my games are online.

PokerStars School: How did you get into poker?
Well originally I got into the game around 10-15 years ago, I lived with my brother at the time and we would go to a few pub league games a week which was always good fun. I enjoy live games and made good friends there but I played a very weak and passive game and didn't have much success. Strangely though I really feel like I only got "into" poker around 3 months ago. Sure, I was familiar with the absolute basics of poker, but after a long time away from the game it was only around the start of this year that I did any real reading on the game and watching highlights/theory videos on YouTube. I literally didn't even know what a "range" was until very recently.

With a huge points lead 'shadyginzo' was the clear winner at the end of the month.

PokerStars School: Who is your poker hero, the player you admire the most and why?
Is Daniel Negreanu way too obvious? I just really love his energy at the table. He's always fun to watch, and we all know how enviable his talent for putting an opponent on a hand is.

PokerStars School: You won the Initiation League in March, tell us about this, was it easy or hard?
Well it certainly wasn't easy. Tournaments really weren't the focus of my learning and as much as I enjoy them they were easily the weakest area of my game. You seem to come up against almost every kind of player imaginable in these games, from early all-in chancers to final table regulars. Over the month I took quite a few different approaches and tried to mix up strategies to remain unpredictable.

PokerStars School: What do you like most about the new league, is it fun to play?
I definitely had fun. I didn't play the old league but my first month here gave me an opportunity to develop my tournament play in a league that was worth winning. I enjoy a bit of table talk too and it was great meeting players like NORTHSTA14 and Ramoz65.

PokerStars School: What were your best tournament result of the month?
Well I won one game early on which would technically have to be my best result and it gave me a lead to protect. But there was a lot of luck involved in the middle stages of that game, I dished out 2 or 3 bad beats, doubling up a few times at the expense of better players! (Sorry!)

I enjoyed the well-fought heads up tussle with Arthanis760 at the end though. He kept the pressure on and punished mistakes and weakness well, he was very good.

Really though it was the following couple of weeks when I felt I got my best results. I was learning and trying new things, playing a stronger game overall and regularly getting in the money and getting to some final tables. It's not the same as winning the tourney, but these were the results that made me feel I was making progress.

A win on March 7th helped Gareth on the road to success this month.

PokerStars School: Do you think that you have more chances to win T$ with the new system?
I'm very new around here so didn't play under the old system, but if people are willing to put in a few hours a week turning up to the games that's half the battle really. There were a few players even in the top 10 who has less than 8 games in the month. Getting in the money is a nice boost for anybody who is starting out in the game and wants a little bankroll to prove their success rates in the low stakes.

PokerStars School: What is your favorite format? Is it tournaments, sit & go's, cash games, or spin & go's?
I have to say 6-Max Cash Games, if only because this is where I've had the most success. I've continued to be profitable in the micros for a few months. Honestly though, there's nothing quite like getting deep into an MTT! That's what poker is really about to me.

PokerStars School: Do you follow a strategy when you play poker? Sort of like a checklist while you play?
Yes. I don't think I'd be able to play the game I want to play without some long and short term strategy in place. In the short term, I'm looking at my position and opponents stacks and playing styles before the cards are dealt. I'm thinking about the situations I want to get into and with who. I'm trying to shift my long term focus in MTTs away from simple survival to achieving more high cashes, at the expense of a few early cash eliminations.

For the league, I was also trying to remain mindful of my overall lead and which players in a session who were in the top 10. I was mindful of what position I needed to hit in order to maintain a lead. Bavarillo got very deep into that last game and got me nervous! It's a little counter to what I said earlier about playing for deeper finishes, but I did focus on survival in that last week because the league standing was worth so much more than the tourney prizes.

PokerStars School: In what way has the School helped you improve your poker game?
Honestly the initiation league itself has exposed me to more tournament play than I would otherwise have gotten.

PokerStars School: What tips or advice would you recommend to other players just starting off?
Well I'm very much learning myself and don't have a tonne of advice to dish out. But if you're starting out in the PokerStars school right now, half the job is seriously just registering in the league games. So many players even in the top 10 had just 3 or 4 games last month. Turning up will boost your points, and you can be in the money with a handful of decent places.
Congratulate Gareth on his The League win!
Leave him a comment below.

Player 'shadyginzo' has been credited with T$25 as a token of thanks for sharing his story. Would you like to share your story? See here for more details.

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