Bringing a newbie into my game (1 Viewer)

Taghkanic

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A social friend heard about and has asked to join my long-running poker game, but I’m worried about how he will fit in.

The friend says he has played poker before, but from our conversation it sounds like it was way back in the days of draw and stud. He’s in his early 60s, and did not seem very sure what NLHE is. Has played some blackjack.

Background: This game has run for about 14 years (not all at my place), and has escalated over that time from an amateurish $30 tournament to a tough 2/5 game.

The current players are pretty sharp, and all know each other well. We’re not world-beaters, but everyone is an experienced player. Some are better than others, but there are no real fish in the game.

The friend has a very high income and plenty of savings... Probably more than anyone else in the game. So he can afford to lose for a long while—though no one likes losing, even when the money is no big deal to them.

He’s smart, a scientist, graduate of high-powered schools. So he should be able to “get” the rules and basic strategy pretty fast—though as we all know this can be an unforgiving and frustrating game. Just when you think you’ve mastered it you realize again how little you really know.

So my next game is about a week away. I’m trying to think what I need to do to (a) help the friend prepare, and (b) also prep my regs for welcoming a new inexperienced guy. I’m concerned that at least a couple of them will be annoyed if he plays slow or uncertainly. And also that he may get ruthlessly exploited. Not much I can do about that... But I’d like this to work out.

Any thoughts on how to integrate a newbie to a tough game?

(If someone else were asking, I might advise myself not to even try it. But the friend says he really wants to join, and I am not really in a position to turn away potential players.)
 
Maybe ask your guys if they'd be willing to do a night of lower stakes or limit just to break the guy in and get a feel.
Maybe see if anyone else can bring a friend and do bring a friend night?
 
Send him some YouTube links of game play. Meet up with him and deal some hands for an hour and to give him some basic knowledge. If he knows what he is getting into and the money won’t hurt him let him play and have some fun. He may need the social aspect of the game as much as anything.
 
If you think it's awkward now to tell him why he is not invited, just imagine how awkward it will be to invite him, it go bad, and need to explain to him why he's not invited back. 10X more stressful.

I just recently had this situation. My game is not nearly the stakes as yours, but I invited a lot of people to the last one, people who said they had "played" poker, but I didn't do any further pressing.

2 of them did not know what blinds were when they showed up. My players were super accommodating, but as a host it caused some problems. Wasn't worth the stress.

Something along the following is polite. "Hey man! Thanks so much for the interest in my game. I think it's great you want to learn poker. But I'm not sure this is the game for you right now. We have a lot of long-standing players here after 14 years. We play for big stakes and are super competitive and have a system all down for it, and because of that, I just am very careful about inviting new players and when. That being said, if you want to keep learning poker? I'd be happy to assist! Maybe we could start our own smaller-stakes game?"
 
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Send him some YouTube links of game play. Meet up with him and deal some hands for an hour and to give him some basic knowledge. If he knows what he is getting into and the money won’t hurt him let him play and have some fun. He may need the social aspect of the game as much as anything.
Just make sure Vogelsang isn't in any of said videos
 
The friend has a very high income and plenty of savings... Probably more than anyone else in the game. So he can afford to lose for a long while
He’s smart, a scientist, graduate of high-powered schools.

I think he'll be fine win or lose based on these comments alone.

I'd make sure he's coming into the game with eyes wide open about the skill level, maybe familiarize him with the flow of a NLHE game as well but he sounds like a smart guy who will figure it out soon enough. Won't hurt to make him well aware that there are no hard feelings if he plays and decides he's no longer interested in the game.

Might also be a good idea to give the other players a heads up that a new guy is going to join for tonight, so bear with him while he gets his bearings.
 
Didn’t you post recently about having a tough time recruiting players to your game ? Sounds like this guy may grow to be a great addition. I hope he gels with your current group, the learning and stakes aspects shouldn’t be a problem, and if they are he’d probably stop on his own.

Good luck !
 
Bring em and tell him its a fast competitive intimidating game, should make him want to learn and succeed even more. Tell your players hes a good friend and has deep pockets. Dont see it as an issue as long as everyone's gambling within their means. Dont invite Davey Scatino whos gonna lose his Sporting Goods store, but be inviting when an intelligent newbies wants to be thrown to the sharks.

Or, run a low stakes night to learn the basics, use it as an entry/feeder. Throwing a mini game tonight to weed out some people who said "Yeah I love poker!" But had never played lol.
 
Just be upfront with everyone (as noted earlier)

To the new guy - "these are stakes (buyin, usual bets, typical pot sizes)"; "players can lose up to X on a bad night"; "if you haven't played NLHE before will be helpful for you to brush up on the rules/etiquette - happy to chat with you about that or I'm sure there are some good videos on YouTube"; "don't be afraid to ask a question if you're unsure what to do"; "just know these players have been doing this for a while, so are pretty experienced"

To your players - "bringing in a new guy; not sure what his experience with NHLE is"; "I've told him the stakes and asked him to familiarize himself with rules so he can go with the flow, but appreciate everyone having a bit of patience his first time or two as he's feeling it out."

If both the new guy and your players are generally decent people, then it seems like it's in everyone's best interest that it works out, so as long as folks know what they're getting into and are willing to be a little flexible then you've done all you can.
 
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Just be upfront with everyone (as noted earlier)

To the new guy - "these are stakes (buyin, usual bets, typical pot sizes)"; "players can lose up to X on a bad night"; "if you haven't played NLHE before will be helpful for you to brush up on the rules/etiquette - happy to chat with you about that or I'm sure there are some good videos on YouTube"; "don't be afraid to ask a question if you're unsure what to do"; "just know these players have been doing this for a while, so are pretty experienced"

To your players - "bringing in a new guy; not sure what his experience with NHLE is"; "I've told him the stakes and asked him to familiarize himself with rules so he can go with the flow, but appreciate everyone having a bit of patience his first time or two as he's feeling it out."

If both the new guy and your players are generally decent people, then it seems like it's in everyone's best interest that it works out, so as long as folks know what they're getting into and are willing to be a little flexible then you've done all you can.

This is exactly where my thinking is. New guy just needs to know and be comfortable with the stakes and your game environment. He can then decide whether he's up for that or not. Who knows, he may be a guy who goes to Vegas and YOLOs $1000 blackjack hands for the lulz.
 
I would have a very candid conversation and no soft language. It sounds like you tried to explain it to him, I would just be blunt and say hey, we can use players, but these guys will take your lunch money. You’ll likely lose a lot and it’s okay if you change your mind.

You could also change the game, switch to 1/2 PLO, everyone will be out of their comfort zone.
 
I’m just imagining the poker scene from I Love You Man.

I will call in.

- Too much for me.
- You're in? Anybody else? Just me and you?

Yeah.

- That's it? Pot right? Trip queens.

Nice. Three ladies. Three ladies.

- Finally. Fucking finally.

— Wait, let's see what he's got.
—Yeah, let's see what he's got.

I have nothing. I have five spades.

- That's a flush.

Yes, one, two, three... Flush!

- He's a fucking asshole.
— Relax.
- I'm not gonna relax.

What?
- I said you're an asshole, Peter.

Don't take it too seriously.

- What are you staying in with seven deuce suited? With a fucking rainbow rag flop! Take the fucking chips. I'm buying in.

I'm sorry...
- Just give me some more chips.

I didn't know it was a rainbow
 
One thing I should have mentioned is that we do have a dealer, a good one. So that should help a bit with any adjustments... At least he won’t have to pitch cards.
I didn't see anyone else mention this, but be sure to explain to him when, and about how much to tip the dealer. I play mostly self dealt games, and I forget to tip all the time when I play with a dealer.

Obviously, explain in great detail how much money the average player brings, buys in for, and explain rebuying and topping up. If you have minimum and maximum buy ins, suggest that he buy in for only the minimum in the beginning.

Like others said, tell him in no uncertain terms that your players are experienced and he is in for a tough go of it until he learns the ropes. The learning curve over several sessions at your stakes could easily cost him $5-10K or more before he starts to become competitive.

Absolutely recommend that he do some online research, watch some videos, and try to have at least a basic understanding of betting strategy and what hands to play and not to play. Explain the concept of premium opening hands and warn him about chasing draws, especially those that are not to the nuts.

Maybe ask your guys if they'd be willing to do a night of lower stakes or limit just to break the guy in and get a feel.
Maybe see if anyone else can bring a friend and do bring a friend night?
Setting up a date other than your normal game for a "bring a n00b night" could be a great opportunity. Only invite players that you think might be candidates for your regular game, and can afford it. Start them out at $1/1 or $1/2 with a $200 buy in. If they balk at $200, then they're probably not ever candidates for the bigger game.
 
So my next game is about a week away. I’m trying to think what I need to do to (a) help the friend prepare, and (b) also prep my regs for welcoming a new inexperienced guy. I’m concerned that at least a couple of them will be annoyed if he plays slow or uncertainly. And also that he may get ruthlessly exploited. Not much I can do about that... But I’d like this to work out.

Any thoughts on how to integrate a newbie to a tough game?
Not everyone plays poker for the same reasons. Some just enjoy the social aspect. The stakes are relative - to some, a $500 or $1000 buy-in is a perfectly acceptable barrier and they would play knowing they're probably going to lose their money.

I run a pretty competitive league with several players having 5 & 6 figure hendon mob profiles. Every now and again someone will inquire about joining - I always tell them the same thing: You're welcome to join us but you should know that it's a pretty competitive environment with a lot of very accomplished players. So while we'd love to have you, you should know what you're walking into.

Some join us once never to return, while others become league regulars and have gotten consistently better over time. The ones that stick with it enjoy the challenge and even though they know they're overmatched, they see the environment as an opportunity to improve their game. Then they go out and slaughter other games!

So if I were in your spot, I'd simply let him know what's up, then tell him if he's interested you'll give him some basic etiquette pointers about the flow of the game.
 
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… So the newbie, who contacted me three times this week about the game, and who I also saw in person last weekend, texts this morning that he was up late last night and so can’t play tonight. Swell
Maybe he was stressed out how much he was going to lose?
 
The new guy seems smart. He has enough money to not get hurt the 1st night. Just let him play. He will make the right decision for him for the next game.
As far as the group goes, if they are smart they will make the potential fish feel very welcome. I would never expect my group to be lame to the new guy whom they can profit from.
 

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