Anyone had any luck developing new (to poker) players for their home game (1 Viewer)

MrCatPants

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
4,681
Location
Houston, Texas
As you fellow hosts know, you've got to keep your game growing to keep it going. Historically, I've relied mostly on friends of friends/referrals to grow the game.

At that point given some recent events (had another regular pass away, and another one get very busy work and so is becoming an irregular) that I need to go back to the well to keep a consistently full table.

Have any of you attempted to develop non-poker playing friends/friends of friends? I do have one friend I got into the game, but it was a great deal of 1:1 coaching to get him competent. Any of you done learning nights/bring a friend nights/etc. What have you done and has it worked?

Just wondering if there's other options beyond putting out feelers with my regulars on additional players.
 

JMC9389

Straight Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
8,562
Reaction score
15,641
Location
NJ
I'm probably not going to be very much help, but to do this takes a lot of effort and just as much luck. The couple of times I've tried to bring a new player into the fold, it didn't work out. They either didn't want to come back because they lost a couple of buy ins (even at micro stakes) or they were so bad that they slowed the game down terribly and made the other players frustrated. It's a fine line to tow.

Your best bet is to find regular players through this site, TBH. Especially being in the metro area of a large city, I'm sure you'll be able to find a couple of players that will fit in well and would have friends that you can vet later on once those players are vetted.
 

raynmanas

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2015
Messages
3,778
Reaction score
5,562
Location
MA
Your best bet is to find regular players through this site, TBH.

truth. i've been to 3 new games in the past year strictly from contacts through this site, and all 3 have been awesome experiences with people who appreciate poker (and chips, duh) way more than my regular friends that i can hardly ever get together anymore anyway.

in other words, it is far easier to turn poker players into new friends then it is to turn friends into new poker players.
 

warma

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
2,084
Reaction score
2,442
Location
DMV
I started a neighborhood group. Found most of the guys through their dogs or school. Focused on low limit games to get them familiar- more social than anything. Hit or miss on scheduling, though- I think I need a wider net.
 

MrCatPants

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
4,681
Location
Houston, Texas
truth. i've been to 3 new games in the past year strictly from contacts through this site, and all 3 have been awesome experiences with people who appreciate poker (and chips, duh) way more than my regular friends that i can hardly ever get together anymore anyway.

in other words, it is far easier to turn poker players into new friends then it is to turn friends into new poker players.
Already worked that angle to a degree. It's amazing how long running game turn over over time. I inherited/restarted this game from a former host about 6 years ago and from that original crew, down to one regular and two occasionals. (and me)
 

slowplay

Sitting Out
Joined
May 19, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
12
Location
Poland
truth. i've been to 3 new games in the past year strictly from contacts through this site, and all 3 have been awesome experiences with people who appreciate poker (and chips, duh) way more than my regular friends that i can hardly ever get together anymore anyway.

in other words, it is far easier to turn poker players into new friends then it is to turn friends into new poker players.
A 1000% agreed. Tried bringing new faces to the game and so far my success rate is about 10% I think.
Granted my games are not very competitive and we mostly play for fun and comradery but still, people need to want to keep playing and get beeter themselves to keep coming
 

upNdown

Royal Flush
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
15,863
Reaction score
22,674
Location
boston
I’m the only one that I can think of. I was brand new to Holdem and a new reg at an existing game, a few months before I joined this forum. But I grew up playing poker and always low key loved it, I’d just never really played for cash. Anyway, with zero Holdem experience, I caught on and within a month or two, I was a winning player and a committed regular. Honestly, there are enough resources on YouTube alone that if somebody really wants to learn the game, it’s an easy thing to do. But that game was dying, (probably how I ended up there) and a few of my regulars now are the remnants of that game.
So I guess I’m saying it’s possible. But i haven’t invited any non-players to my game, so I guess I’m not relying on it.
 

upNdown

Royal Flush
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
15,863
Reaction score
22,674
Location
boston
I feel like I’ve read @Poker Zombie discussing some experiences doing this pretty effectively.
It just seems overwhelming to me. Like, I’m thrilled to bring in 6 or 7 guys to play, a couple times a month. But that takes like the absolute most effort I think I have. Hosting multi-table nights where you have a table for noobs - I’m sure it’s very effective in the long run, but you need to be dedicated and probably need to have an existing supportive network.
 

Eriks

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
5,585
Reaction score
10,746
Location
Sweden
I’m the only one that I can think of. I was brand new to Holdem and a new reg at an existing game, a few months before I joined this forum. But I grew up playing poker and always low key loved it, I’d just never really played for cash. Anyway, with zero Holdem experience, I caught on and within a month or two, I was a winning player and a committed regular. Honestly, there are enough resources on YouTube alone that if somebody really wants to learn the game, it’s an easy thing to do. But that game was dying, (probably how I ended up there) and a few of my regulars now are the remnants of that game.
So I guess I’m saying it’s possible. But i haven’t invited any non-players to my game, so I guess I’m not relying on it.
Certainly possible if one is willing to make an effort to learn, as you were. In my experience though, it will mostly be people who come to chat, drink and also play a little poker.
 

MrCatPants

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
4,681
Location
Houston, Texas
I feel like I’ve read @Poker Zombie discussing some experiences doing this pretty effectively.
It just seems overwhelming to me. Like, I’m thrilled to bring in 6 or 7 guys to play, a couple times a month. But that takes like the absolute most effort I think I have. Hosting multi-table nights where you have a table for noobs - I’m sure it’s very effective in the long run, but you need to be dedicated and probably need to have an existing supportive network.
And I do wonder in the multi table thing, how you "captain"/deal/bank that table.
 

Poker Zombie

Royal Flush
Joined
Oct 29, 2014
Messages
15,167
Reaction score
29,504
Location
Nashville-ish
A regular multi-table event is more stable than a single table event.
  • If 4-5 players cant make a game, you still have a game.
  • More players means a deeper field of friends you can draw from to keep the game alive.
  • More players makes the game more social, as there are more people to talk to.
We always make it clear to invite the spouse. a nearly 50-50 male to female split contributes to the social aspect. It's like going to a party - if there's only 1-2 women in a group of 16, they may feel uncomfortable.

We host tournaments. Tourneys have breaks built in, so everyone can socialize. It also gives players a chance - away from the table - to ask "why did you call", or "why did you bet that way". You might think a winning player might not want to give away their secrets, but in my experience, good players are more than willing to help and educate those who want to learn. After-all, good players hate bad players that suck out on them in tournaments. In a cash game, that single suck-out will often get minimized by rebuying, so the desire to teach is reduced.

We also have a pot-luck dinner before the game, with me providing the main course. This gets players to arrive early for food, and builds on the social aspect - especially after a year of lock-down. People want to be social.

Of the 124 players we've had since 2009, 49 have only played once. That's nearly 40% "rejection" (knowing that one couple moved away after the 1st game, and at least 7 were friends/relatives of players that were visiting from out of town and came to our game, and a few others attended multiple games before we started record -keeping). So keep in mind that poker isn't for everyone. Even if they like poker, our game might play too low or high for their liking.

...and for the record, of the 124 players we have had through our door, 63 of them had never played poker before they sat with the Zombies.
 
Last edited:

tabletalker7

Full House
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
3,765
Reaction score
5,537
Location
Buffalo NY
I started my home game with nothing but "new to poker" people, so I invented "Drunken Poker". It's simple. Everyone starts out with 100 in chips. If you bust, the bank can easily give you another hundo. All you have to do to get it is a double of the WORST BOTTLE I could find at the liquor store that day, and when I say bad I mean $8.95 with a $10 mail in rebate bad. It turned a game about money into a game of laughing at your buddy while he has to drink that garbage. Remarkably they all learned the basics quickly!

It can be done. It takes patience and proper motivation, but it can be done.
 

SteveEH

3 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
Messages
583
Reaction score
1,340
Location
Canada, EH
I've had success with low stakes!

I restarted my game post COVID but my 4 core players plus a few former co-workers weren't enough for a regular monthly game.

Here's what worked for my cash game:

- There were 4 new people I invited with a connection - live in the neighborhood and/or have a connection to my former employer. These guys aren't gamblers or poker players. They may have played poker before, but it wasn't a regular thing.

- LIMIT. It all started with limit. It's simple for newbies to understand. No need to worry about bet sizing or busting out.

- Communicate the expected win/loss amounts for the night.

- Free food and drinks. I cook good stuff, or order it in. I make cocktails...lots of cocktails. I try to switch up the menu each game so there's something new to try.

- I send out an invitation and try to make it look like a fancy night out.

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/official-post-your-poker-night-flyer.87133/#post-1789243

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/resources/abby99s-mixed-game-cards.45/

- Always Saturday night (2nd of the month if possible) so they expect it next month.

- At first I made sure at least 2 or 3 new core players locked up seats and communicated to each of them who was coming. The more people they know the more comfortable they were, and I would also tell them "plus my friend X from work/high school you haven't met yet." Now they're all comfortable with each other but it's still good to have at least 2 from each group.

- The new players had priority seating. I communicated to the old core regs that expanding the player pool was the goal, and rotated each of them in as needed.

Other than COVID cancellations my 6 max table had been full with repeat players each month.

The game is slowly evolving into dealer's choice and no/pot limit.
 
Last edited:

djfayze

Flush
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
1,032
Reaction score
2,544
Location
Orlando, FL
I've had success with low stakes!

I restarted my game post COVID but my 4 core players plus a few former co-workers weren't enough for a regular monthly game.

Here's my cash game formula:

- There were 4 new people I invited with a connection - live in the neighborhood and/or have a connection to my former employer. These guys aren't gamblers or poker players. They may have played poker before, but it wasn't a regular thing.

- LIMIT. It all started with limit. It's simple for newbies to understand. No need to worry about bet sizing or busting out.

- Communicate the expected win/loss amounts for the night.

- Free food and drinks. I cook good stuff, or order it in. I make cocktails...lots of cocktails. I try to switch up the menu each game so there's something new to try.

- I send out an invitation and try to make it look like a fancy night out.

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/official-post-your-poker-night-flyer.87133/#post-1789243

- Always Saturday night (2nd of the month if possible) so they expect it next month.

- At first I made sure at least 2 or 3 new core players locked up seats and communicated to each of them who was coming. The more people they know the more comfortable they were, and I would also tell them "plus my friend X from work/high school you haven't met yet." Now they're all comfortable with each other but it's still good to have at least 2 from each group.

- The new players had priority seating. I communicated to the old core regs that expanding the player pool was the goal.

Other than COVID cancellations my 6 max table had been full with repeat players each month.

The game is slowly evolving into dealer's choice and no/pot limit.
Every time I see your flyer I save it. It’s so simple but thorough. Just enough info for people to know what they’re getting into but not information overload. Solid work!
 

shorticus

4 of a Kind
Tourney Director
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
5,487
Reaction score
5,839
Location
Cajun Country
I do have a couple of golf buddies that have taken an interest in poker. I’m always talking about poker when I’m around those guys, and it seems to have peeked their interest.

I never encourage my friends to gamble, but I do tell them that they are always welcome to come by during poker night. One of my golf buddies has since started playing and a second is now interested.

To help them learn the game, I always offer my books and am willing to discuss hands during the game if they have questions. Also, when we have new players, I always offer to host low stakes tourneys with lots of chips on the table. Their enjoyment is more important to me than winning a few bucks.
 

TexRex

3 of a Kind
Joined
Aug 8, 2013
Messages
704
Reaction score
538
Location
Texas
I'd love to duplicate Poker Zombie's model with couples!

I just checked. We've done 118 games (mostly a monthly tournament with some extra games sometimes) since 2013, when I started keeping records. Of the 157, as of right now, 57 have only played once. That's 36.3%, close to PZ's 40%. Below I'll post something I've posted before.

Your game is either growing or dying.

Game – Keeping it going -- Recognize when a game is dying
, because rarely does a game die suddenly in my experience. It is dying if it’s the same group of players. Eventually one will move away for life reasons, get out of the game for a variety of reasons, temporarily step away from the game, become incapacitated, or die. Those events will happen to your players. If the game is in desperate need of every regular, or only has one or two extras over the minimum, one of those game-life events will put the game into a death spiral. Sometimes one player leaving has a domino effect.

My experience with games that ended suddenly is that they primarily ended from either rules disputes (most often) or personality clashes (way less often) where no person was able to mediate the clash. Your game is in danger of one of these instant death events if your players don’t have a clear idea of what the rules are, or they perceive that the resolution of those disputes is wrong or unfair. Personality clashes have to be kept in control by someone (not necessarily the host). There are so many different poker rules no two books of rules are exactly alike. But trust me, players have very strong opinions about how things are supposed to be.

Your game is growing if you either have new players coming, or you know players (that’s those who actually PLAY, not those who say they’d like/love to play, or think it sounds like fun) who you could ask to come because you know them from other venues and your game is currently full. Think of this as the reserves that could be called up if needed.

Your game is growing if you have your main/big or major league game, and farm games, perhaps at several levels, of players who could move up or down, and there is “scouting” department for new players.

Your game is growing if you get invited to other games and you see that as an opportunity to recruit. I’ve found when going to other games, support that game (even if you can’t come a given time) by encouraging the players to play when you can’t make it. Help that host, and don’t compete with that game by doing games at the same time.

Your game is growing if you are aware of other games that could be cultivated for either new players or new opportunities for your players and you are at least maintaining some type of poker relationship with a person in that game that could grow to an invitation (to or from).

Other Things
When you go to someone else's game, be a model guest! Help setup. Help tear down. Help them organize. Bring something to share, or something that helps the host. I don't expect my first time guests to bring anything. I tend to remember it when they do though!

If you can do it effectively, offer to deal if it would help. I played in a game once where they needed someone to blind in stacks of players who weren't there yet. I volunteered, and frequently they put 2 or 3 at my table (about 5 tables average). I made sure things were done well. After the first time I did it, the host would ask if I was willing. Of course I was! The host was grateful for my willingness. (That meant I effectively got in the dealer position several times an orbit. The host obviously didn't realize I was also helping me.)

I found them very willing to let me promote my game. I said I'd promote theirs if they wanted me to.

Don't do your game on competing nights with games in your area. I have found most other hosts not only appreciate that, but will do the same.
***

Hopefully you will find something helpful in this.
 

tabletalker7

Full House
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
3,765
Reaction score
5,537
Location
Buffalo NY
If you want to kick it up 10 notches get your game a bottle or two of Jeppson's Malört.

Trust me.
I'll think about it, but right now just looking at the bottle of Mokawk London Dry Gin makes me rethink trying to bluff these guys ......

S3nZFke4WXjDIFF1kV.gif
 
Top Bottom