It was an ordinary mid-October evening: the rain was pounding against the windows, the wind was howling, and the clouds shrouded an otherwise starry sky. Oh, the joys of British weather!
Luckily for me, I was at home and was taking a break from my studies when I decided to browse the PokerStars main lobby.
Needless to say, one is really spoilt for choice here, no matter what Bankroll a player is operating with – there are so many games to choose from!
But it was only one, amongst thousands, that really caught my eye– The Open Skills League

The Open Skills League has a different structure to a regular tournament. There is a dedicated page to the different leagues:

I started to participate in the league in mid-October, but it is only since November that I have started to take part daily. The most I have played in one day is two games. It takes place at various times throughout the day, so those who really want to participate in the league have the flexibility to choose a convenient time for them.

I have found that this is my favourite way to practice, even though a league game is different to a regular tournament. However, there is still a large range of different players with different styles and level of skill, as everyone can participate.

What I like the most about the Open Skills Leagues is the ‘My Stats’ feature on PSO.
I love this feature because I have been able to track my progress, and view the overall trend of my play during the month. The stats include achievements, playing style and a graph which displays the past month’s tournament results history (finishing percentile V number of tournaments). So far, in the month of November, I have played 1172 hands and 25 tournaments. In the month of October I played 254 hands, and 6 tournaments. 

It is not surprising that the league is very popular as it gets filled up so quickly! Also, even though there are 10,000 entrants, most of them are gone by the time it is slightly passed the first break so it doesn’t take an extremely long time to get to the remaining 1440 (which is considered as ‘in the money’ on ‘My Stats’ feature). At first, I would exit this tournament at the early stage (due to bad play on my part). It was only after I really made use of the available resources here at PSO and other poker sites that I began to recognise what mistakes I was making before. I think that reading articles to learn is good, but some things need to be learnt by gaining experience. So the resources I used here at PSO to help me: Live Training Sessions, High Score Challenge game and I am trying to post more hands in the forum for feedback.Elsewhere, I read about how to approach the game when being the short-stack.

Here are some examples of what I did to help me play better:

Have a plan
If I get cards where I have the intention of entering the pot, I try to formulate a plan pre-flop. This has helped me make decisions more easily after the flop. Although I think I need to work more on pot odds.

Hand Chart
I have started referring to a ‘starting hands’ chart – sometimes  I don’t do exactly what it says though! However, it has helped me to consider position and hand ranges more.

Adapting my play when ‘short stack.’
I have been researching ways in which to adapt play when being the short-stack. The adaptations I’ve made are:  considering my stack size compared to the blinds, my opponent’s stack sizes and what the average stack is; avoiding the big stack unless I plan to go ‘all-in;’ using the push/fold approach if I have between 10BB-20BB; try not to ‘limp’ in.
Since I’ve started applying these small changes, and choosing the right situations to apply them when I am short-stacked, I have been able to progress further in the game than what I would normally. 

Choose the right spot
There are numerous factors to consider when entering the pot. Before, I used to think that it was dependant only on the hole cards – I have found this is not always the case.

I use ‘Boom’ re-player with the hands that I am not sure of. I like to post them that way because I can have a look at them at a later date and can request an analysis here at PSO. I think that this is a great way not only to get feedback, but also I can see if I have improved my game over the week and if I can spot the mistakes. 

As it is the beginning of a new month, I am looking forward to continue my Open Skills League Adventure at PSO! In November, my average finishing percentile has been 30% - let’s see if I can improve!

Wishing you all a prosperous December!
Until next time!