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Tips for Playing in The League
The League offers the unique opportunity to test your skills against other members. There's also a chance to win big as PokerStars School will be giving away thousands of tournament dollars in prize-money. Points in The League are not paid out in the same way as prizes in normal tournaments. You will have to adapt your strategy from how you might handle standard tournaments. Let's explore the differences and the effect they have on your strategy.

Earning League Points

In The League tournaments all players will receive points and these points increase incrementally as you place higher. A more detailed explanation of the scoring system can be found here. While winning a tournament is still the holy grail, we should acknowledge that earning some points on a regular basis is the first goal. Getting into the prizes more frequently than the opposition will pay off in the long-run. Making the pay-out structure should be your sole aim in the first phase of the tournament and after that, getting as high up it as possible. Remember also that not all tournaments are considered for points. Players can play in as many tournaments as they wish however at the Masters level only their best 12 tournament results each month will count towards their Leader Board position at the end of each month. At the Initiation level only their best 6 tournament results each month will count towards their Leader Board position.

Tight is Right Early On

A tight aggressive approach will stand you in good stead during the early phases of a league tournament. It is rarely worth getting into precarious situations just to steal some insignificantly small blinds. Premium holdings should be played aggressively, and your main goal with these hands should be to thin the field and avoid the mass limped pots that can be common in these events. Hands with implied odds (the ability to hit big and win big) such as small pairs and suited connectors offer you a lucrative opportunity to peek at the flop for a small investment during the early stages. The first few blinds levels are the time to get curious with these holdings – join the limp fest and go after that elusive set or straight!

Many players will impatiently shove all-in early on in these events, hoping to either double up or bust. They haven't invested any money, so to them, the event is a free chance at magically building a huge stack. This is not how we should play if we are serious about scoring well in the long-term. Waiting for decent holdings and picking these players off when they get out of line is a sound approach. It is better to wait until you reach the pay-out structure before taking big risks.

Surviving the Bubble

Remember, the overall goal is to earn as many points in the month as possible, however, there's also tournament dollars to be won in each individual tournament. The next step having survived the early stages and built yourself a stack is to make it past the bubble (the last place where no prize-money is awarded in a tournament.) A more detailed explanation of the monthly prizes can be found here.

One common danger at any tournament bubble-stage is the temptation to become very risk adverse. Since your opponents will often give in to this temptation, a very lucrative bubble strategy can be to steal very wide and apply pressure to opponents who are desperately hanging on. Such players will usually only fight back with a very strong hand and so the amount of small to medium pots you can steal is amazing. Attacking these scared opponents will boost your stack significantly, which will help you both to survive the bubble and reach further into the pay-out structure.

On the flip side, if your stack is in danger around the bubble and there are other players who might bust soon, then you should consider making some big folds. Earning some points is the primary goal of every league event so do whatever you can to scrape into the points. After you have made it safely through the bubble, its time to hit the accelerator.

Going for Gold

Congratulations, you have navigated the treacherous water of the bubble and made it into the pay-out structure. It is now time to focus on the top three spots where the big points are awarded. Play your normal late-stage tournament game; look after your stack and do not be afraid to shove aggressively if you are getting short. Pick your spots patiently, and with a bit of luck, your big hands might hold up, propelling your stack to the top of the list. From here you can coast into the top few places and enjoy a big score to put you ahead in The League.

Summary

Avoid risks in the early stages. Bleeding away your chips with second best hands is the very thing to avoid. Your chances will come so be patient.

Not winning the tournament but getting into the points is your first priority. Doing this regularly is key to giving yourself a great chance of winning The League.

After the bubble, your focus shifts to getting right to the top. It is not worth hanging on to climb just one or two places before busting. Make sure your stack does not get too short.

Finally, these are general tips on how to play The League. The correct strategy for each event will vary based on field size. If you would like to learn more about winning tournament strategy check out our Multi-table Tournament Video Course.
 
Do you have any tips for playing in The League?
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