Pub Poker is bad if you seriously want to improve your game. Don't get me wrong, any playing experience and practice that you can get will help to improve your game and if you get that experience for free, as with pub poker, then all the better. Just remember that the type of players and plays you will frequently encounter at pub poker will not be found in higher level games and you may pick up some bad habits if you play too often and/or don't keep your witts about you.
If you're ONLY looking for fun then I'd say have at it. If you're looking for more than just fun, and the fact that you're on this website suggests that you probably are, I'd play Pub Poker in moderation.
I certainly wouldn't suggest traveling any significant distance to get to a game so check out the following leagues to find a venue in your area:
APL - www.playapl.com
NPL - www.npl.com.au
NPPL - www.npplpoker.com.au
Pub Poker - www.pubpoker.net.au
PPN - www.playpokernights.com.au
UPT - www.ultimatepokertour.com.au
PokCh - www.pokerchallenge.com.au
There are a number of different Pub Poker leagues or your local might even run their own league, but the basic premise is pretty much the same. You show up at your local pub on the designated night and register for the tournament at which point you will get a "drink card" or something similar. Simply registering for the tournament gets you free entry and the starting chip bank (say $1000 worth of tourny chips) but if you buy drinks and food at the pub before the game starts and during the initial period you can get your drinks card stamped which entitles you to additional chips over and above your starting bank.
There's usually prizes for the winners which can be anything from a bottle of wine to vouchers to cash. Depending on the venue and the league they are registered for, theres likely to be some form of points table which you can track on their website. Each time you play a tournament at a venue participating in that league you will gets points with more points going to those who finish higher. At the end of the season the highest point scorers will play off in the finals touranament/s where the prizes can be quite significant.
Playing poker for money (that is risking your own money or something of value in a poker game) in a public venue, outside SkyCity Casino, is illegal in South Australia. Pub Poker provides a legal loophole to avoid this law and let establishments still profit from poker games.
Pub Poker Strategy
If you don't buy drinks and food to qualify for extra chips and most others do, you will find yourself short stacked from the get go. This is another reason why pub poker can be such a negative influence on your game. If you came looking for free practice to help improve your game, don't buy drinks. If you find that puts you at major chip stack disadvantage you'll have to make a value call as to whether pub poker is the right option for you.
In Pub Poker tournaments you will typically find the players extremely loose and often unpredictable. Most people have been drinking and since the tournament is free they have nothing to lose. In addition, the 'drink card' system means that those who are the most drunk also have the most chips, adding to the mayhem.
New players typically overvalue every hand and will happily call you down with bottom pair. Drunk players will usually take more risks which could mean more bluffing or more calling (or both) depending on the person.
A typical stratety for this type of environment would be Tight Aggressive (TA) and I do mean aggressive. With a good hand, high pair, AK, AQ your aim should be to narrow the field down to one (1) caller, if that means going all in, then go all in. You should never be calling, if your hand is good enough to call then you should raise if its not good enough to raise you need to fold.
The starting stack and blind structure does not suit playing tight as often you won't have enough time to catch a good hand before being blinded out so you'll have to open up your starting hand requirements. You're looking to build your stack up quickly so you can survive the steep blind increases and last til the final table. Its better that lose out early playing aggressively than playing passively and sitting on your chips because although you might last longer you will rarely make it past the middle of the tournament.
If you're lucky enough to be on a tight table, play your position aggressively.
Please add your own Pub Pokers results, strategy tips and info about your local venue's games and leagues in the comments below.