Locally, I have a few options for poker leagues: Full House Poker, Any Two Cards, the Georgia Poker Club, and the Atlanta Poker Club. If you would like a formal review post of each, let me know. As I am unsure of the international popularity of these leagues, I am holding off.
Leagues are usually well organized and have a weekly following of regulars. They are free to play and charge the venue for bringing in customers. My issue with using leagues as an avenue to improve your game comes from their alternate revenue streams.
- Players can buy more chips by purchasing food or drink from the bar. For example, a league may offer an additional 500 chip for every $10 spent.
- Players may have the option of buying premium league memberships for $100 or $200 for the year which ensures a certain chip up nightly.
- Players who volunteer to deal the table can receive a chip payment.
- Players who refer newcomers to the game can be rewarded with a chip up.
In short, if you show up to play in one of these leagues and don't expect to spend anything, expect to be at a major chip disadvantage.
At first this bothered my sense of fair play, but it only brings the game closer to real poker. More at risk and, assuming the league uses some money to offer better prizes, more reward. I don't blame anyone for a fair business model. However, it is important to know what you are getting into. Once you start playing "free" poker every night you may find yourself out of a lot of money. That is money you could have used playing real poker, and even if you lose, it is a better gauge of your skill level. Have fun at the bars, but when you start to get serious about your game, risk for the real rewards.