Getting Your Non-Poker Friends to Play Poker

thinklikevigo

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View attachment 720506
Yes, this is in fact a photo of one of my non-poker friend raking in a large pot after hitting his straight on the river. The chips are semi-custom “King of the River” chips by @BR Pro Poker in which I received compliments on how nice they were. I will post some better pics of them at the end of the post.

I’ve seen some threads about this topic floating around so I figured I’d offer up my experience. As a disclaimer, my friends are hobbyists by nature. We all play video games and have prior experience playing competitive Pokemon and Magic the Gathering. We will typically participate in each others competitive hobbies if made accessible to the group. The guys have known about my involvement with Poker since I started a couple years ago. They often would ask how things were going in the poker streets and I've even shared some hand histories with them over drinks.

The door opened when my friend played some wacky multideck, wild card, 7 of spades takes all variant of family game night poker with his mom and dad. When the boys converged to go on a beach weekend, he actually brought the decks with him and suggested we all play. I obliged and played the suggested variant but introduced score keeping with some cheap poker chips I had laying around the house (pre-poker/chipping days). Before you knew it, I had all four guys playing hold'em with one deck and keeping track of "re-buys". Believe it or not, you can play poker competitively without money being involved! We would just keep track of how many times someone would have to refresh their stack after busting, mixed in some drinking, and before you knew it I was enjoying pretty ridiculous poker with my non-poker friends! We also made it so the person with the most re-buys would get the first round of drinks at the bar and the one with the least would get the master bedroom at the air bnb. Introducing some friendly stakes that is not money makes it a lot more fun for your non-gambling friends. I had them playing Pineapple, Omaha, and Hold'em.

A couple other things I noticed is that they will love taking hands off of the "pro" at the table. They also wont fold and showdown with awful hands. There is lots of bluffing and ball busting, slow rolling for sure. I actually love poker so much that I enjoyed this format a lot. Its a great game and is just often gate kept by money. You hear lots of stories about how families used to play 5 card stud for pennies and stuff, so it makes you remember its a game first. As a side note, I also taught my 10 year old daughter 5 card stud and Omaha with the same re-buy score keeping system and she loved it!

If you've made it this far, you deserve some chip Pr0n, so here is my new set of semi-customs from BRPro Poker!

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trigs

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I'm still trying to get non-poker playing friends to even give it a try. The comments I get are "It's too hard", "I don't want to play for money" (even pennies), "I can't even remember what hand beats what", etc. If I ever figure out how to get them to play, I'll let you know.

I also first learned poker playing 5 card draw and 7 card stud with my dad and uncles for pennies whenever our extended family would get together. We'd also play 31 a lot which I always enjoyed as there is a little skill involved compared to most other card games.
 

ktran

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Well it's like fishing. You gotta reel them in. I'd probably start to play for fun or start a tournament with no buy-in (maybe rebuy-ins) and you can place a prize for the winner whether it be money, gift card, trophy, etc. Poker is not for everyone so don't expect everyone coming back everytime. I'd say focus on the fun aspect like getting pizza/food and socializing at first. They won't stress about winning and it won't be fun. Eventually over time, some will learn and understand poker more and maybe up the stakes.

Poker is all patience. Maybe your friends won't be as serious, but maybe one day.
 

ktran

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View attachment 720506
Yes, this is in fact a photo of one of my non-poker friend raking in a large pot after hitting his straight on the river. The chips are semi-custom “King of the River” chips by @BR Pro Poker in which I received compliments on how nice they were. I will post some better pics of them at the end of the post.

I’ve seen some threads about this topic floating around so I figured I’d offer up my experience. As a disclaimer, my friends are hobbyists by nature. We all play video games and have prior experience playing competitive Pokemon and Magic the Gathering. We will typically participate in each others competitive hobbies if made accessible to the group. The guys have known about my involvement with Poker since I started a couple years ago. They often would ask how things were going in the poker streets and I've even shared some hand histories with them over drinks.

The door opened when my friend played some wacky multideck, wild card, 7 of spades takes all variant of family game night poker with his mom and dad. When the boys converged to go on a beach weekend, he actually brought the decks with him and suggested we all play. I obliged and played the suggested variant but introduced score keeping with some cheap poker chips I had laying around the house (pre-poker/chipping days). Before you knew it, I had all four guys playing hold'em with one deck and keeping track of "re-buys". Believe it or not, you can play poker competitively without money being involved! We would just keep track of how many times someone would have to refresh their stack after busting, mixed in some drinking, and before you knew it I was enjoying pretty ridiculous poker with my non-poker friends! We also made it so the person with the most re-buys would get the first round of drinks at the bar and the one with the least would get the master bedroom at the air bnb. Introducing some friendly stakes that is not money makes it a lot more fun for your non-gambling friends. I had them playing Pineapple, Omaha, and Hold'em.

A couple other things I noticed is that they will love taking hands off of the "pro" at the table. They also wont fold and showdown with awful hands. There is lots of bluffing and ball busting, slow rolling for sure. I actually love poker so much that I enjoyed this format a lot. Its a great game and is just often gate kept by money. You hear lots of stories about how families used to play 5 card stud for pennies and stuff, so it makes you remember its a game first. As a side note, I also taught my 10 year old daughter 5 card stud and Omaha with the same re-buy score keeping system and she loved it!

If you've made it this far, you deserve some chip Pr0n, so here is my new set of semi-customs from BRPro Poker!

View attachment 721316
View attachment 721324
I'm trying to find online sites, but not sure how I feel about them yet.
 

quintooo

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For friends? I give them a free buy in. Microstake game ($10), so doesn't put a dent in my pocket. I give them lots of action and let them win a couple hands; basically making sure they end the night with a modest win. Usually ropes them in... Unethical? Sure, but they usually pick up on the game fast and it's really fun if it's all friends.

If NONE of your friends play poker, I'd suggest a freeroll tourney probably. You'd have to put up like $50 for the pot out of your own pocket or something; rebuys can be done but with their own monies. My only issue with this is some of your friends might just end up expecting freeroll tournies always...
 

Mangatang

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I’m hosting my first game since COVID tonight. I’ve got a buddy of mine coming tonight who’s NEVER played poker. Not even video poker. He doesn’t know hand rankings. We’re playing a small stakes limit game ($.50-1.00). We’ll see how it goes.
 

danopoker

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I'm still trying to get non-poker playing friends to even give it a try. The comments I get are "It's too hard", "I don't want to play for money" (even pennies), "I can't even remember what hand beats what", etc. If I ever figure out how to get them to play, I'll let you know.

I also first learned poker playing 5 card draw and 7 card stud with my dad and uncles for pennies whenever our extended family would get together. We'd also play 31 a lot which I always enjoyed as there is a little skill involved compared to most other card games.
31? Is the game also known as "Blitz" perchance?

We used to play a game called 31, I'm guessing it's the same, three cards, only cards of the same suit count, lowest hand loses a chip (or a penny) yada yada yada... same game you used to play?
 

khp

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My tip: have a game night, not a poker night, to introduce people to poker.

Start with a board game - settlers, werewolf, whatever you like. Eat dinner. Move to micro stakes poker. If too many people bust and don’t want to rebuy, return to board games.
 

Mangatang

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I’m hosting my first game since COVID tonight. I’ve got a buddy of mine coming tonight who’s NEVER played poker. Not even video poker. He doesn’t know hand rankings. We’re playing a small stakes limit game ($.50-1.00). We’ll see how it goes.
It did not go well for my non-poker friend. He left in a huff. And, as you know, any time a “huff” is involved, it’s never good.

Poker rules are really hard to explain to a drunk 40 year old asshole who has never learned the rules of poker before.
 

LeLe

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I will start off with new poker player by playing 5c/10c or 10c/20c with them with buyin of 100bb.

I will go through some play like why it better to say bet bigger on a 3 heart board when u have 2 pair when it better to raise 3 bet etc so the new player have a better feeling How to play and why it play like this

I also will rebate some new player some of the pot back who just over value their top pair on a 4 card straight board or a 4 card flush etc as I will take one lesson as a learning session rather then a gaming session

It will probably take them a few session to fully get a grasp of live poker and after that you will have a new poker player in your community to invite too
 

trigs

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31? Is the game also known as "Blitz" perchance?

We used to play a game called 31, I'm guessing it's the same, three cards, only cards of the same suit count, lowest hand loses a chip (or a penny) yada yada yada... same game you used to play?
Yup, that's the one. You keep going around until someone gets 31 total then everyone immediately has to show their cards, or until someone knocks. If someone knocks, then everyone else gets one more draw chance and then everyone has to show with lowest hand losing a penny. We'd always do 3 pennies per person and then after losing all three you'd be "on your honor" for one last chance before being eliminated. Play down to a final winner.
 

thinklikevigo

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I'm trying to find online sites, but not sure how I feel about them yet.
The legal sites in NJ, NV, DE, PA, and MI are all regulated and good. I personally play on Pokerstars PA. If I wasn't in a one of these states, I'd probably play on Americas Card Room.
 

thinklikevigo

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In my experiences, the action options and blinds are the toughest things to explain to new players. Of course hand ranking can be tricky too but just have them pull up a list on their phone. Constantly having to tell people what option they have (check, bet, fold, raise) every hand is a true test of endurance. As stated a few times already, the alcohol doesn't help much to retain the rules either haha.

My favorite is the fold when they are first to act when they can just check :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
 

tabletalker7

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I got quite a few of my "non-poker" friends to start with Drunken Poker. Drunken Poker is where everyone starts out with a hundred in chips. It is a standard 1/2 NL table. When someone busts out, the bank will gladly give them a new stack of a hundred. They have to do a double of the nastiest thing I found at the liquor store (and when I say nasty, I mean $8.95 with a $10 mail in rebate nasty). It let them learn the rules and start to understand the game while laughing at their buddy drink something disgusting. It is a lot of fun.
 

allforcharity

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You can't make someone like poker. There's plenty of people who have an aversion to gambling (even if there's nothing at stake). For the hard to convince, you'll just have to find out why and see if an accommodation can be made.
 

starfall

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You can't make someone like poker. There's plenty of people who have an aversion to gambling (even if there's nothing at stake). For the hard to convince, you'll just have to find out why and see if an accommodation can be made.
This. Ive played with lots of different groups of friends over the years. People need to want to be there, learn the game, and either be willing to gamble some money or pay to have fun with friends for the night. Learning the basics to be competent at low stakes cash games with average skill level friends is NOT hard. If a friend isn’t willing to lose a few bucks while learning or “paying” to have fun for a night they probably aren’t going to enjoy playing.

Some people don’t like the game, some just don’t like gambling, etc. it’s not for everyone and it’s a real privilege having a close group of friends who enjoy playing regularly.
 

TRAINERSTEVE

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In my experiences, the action options and blinds are the toughest things to explain to new players. Of course hand ranking can be tricky too but just have them pull up a list on their phone. Constantly having to tell people what option they have (check, bet, fold, raise) every hand is a true test of endurance. As stated a few times already, the alcohol doesn't help much to retain the rules either haha.

My favorite is the fold when they are first to act when they can just check :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
I usually remind people four times not to do that and then don’t say anything after they do it for the fifth time
 

dukeofism

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For friends? I give them a free buy in. Microstake game ($10), so doesn't put a dent in my pocket. I give them lots of action and let them win a couple hands; basically making sure they end the night with a modest win. Usually ropes them in... Unethical? Sure, but they usually pick up on the game fast and it's really fun if it's all friends.

If NONE of your friends play poker, I'd suggest a freeroll tourney probably. You'd have to put up like $50 for the pot out of your own pocket or something; rebuys can be done but with their own monies. My only issue with this is some of your friends might just end up expecting freeroll tournies always...
A very similar approach to this has worked well for me. Let someone stack up a couple wins and they are sure to get hooked.
 

legonick

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I'm trying to get a monthly game going. I think tournaments are a great start because it's a capped loss. Easy to write off $15 for a night of poker with buddies.

I haven't had any monster coolers like AA vs KK on the first hand, and someone's out. People get hurt early but I feel like a well-structured tournament starts with everyone having lots of BBs so the action is kind of fun and splashy (depending on the player), then in the middle people start to bust and it goes all-in wild as the blinds get steep, then the end you either have a good heads-up or 1v1v1 action, or 1 player ran well/played well and is just a monster eating up the last of the players, who are battling amongst the short stacks for the bubble/laddering up (I pay out 50%/30%/20).

It's tough though. Getting 8 other players once a month should be easy, but it's not. I feel like I have 1-2 regulars now...a 3rd I thought was a regular, but I've been pinging him to RSVP for the next game and he's been ghosting me (???), another 2 I thought would be regulars that missed the last game...I def. am not where I want to be yet (a solid core group of like 6 or 7 people who come to the vast majority of games).

My next game is July 23rd and I'm "stuck" at 7/9 right now (including myself). I do have 1 more wave to ping...I think I could pull 1 from that...the rest in that last wave...ehhh...long shots! It also includes a player who was very excited to come, but then no-showed after RSVPing "yes" at my last game...really don't want to invite him because fuck that guy, LOL.
 

TRAINERSTEVE

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I'm trying to get a monthly game going. I think tournaments are a great start because it's a capped loss. Easy to write off $15 for a night of poker with buddies.

I haven't had any monster coolers like AA vs KK on the first hand, and someone's out. People get hurt early but I feel like a well-structured tournament starts with everyone having lots of BBs so the action is kind of fun and splashy (depending on the player), then in the middle people start to bust and it goes all-in wild as the blinds get steep, then the end you either have a good heads-up or 1v1v1 action, or 1 player ran well/played well and is just a monster eating up the last of the players, who are battling amongst the short stacks for the bubble/laddering up (I pay out 50%/30%/20).

It's tough though. Getting 8 other players once a month should be easy, but it's not. I feel like I have 1-2 regulars now...a 3rd I thought was a regular, but I've been pinging him to RSVP for the next game and he's been ghosting me (???), another 2 I thought would be regulars that missed the last game...I def. am not where I want to be yet (a solid core group of like 6 or 7 people who come to the vast majority of games).

My next game is July 23rd and I'm "stuck" at 7/9 right now (including myself). I do have 1 more wave to ping...I think I could pull 1 from that...the rest in that last wave...ehhh...long shots! It also includes a player who was very excited to come, but then no-showed after RSVPing "yes" at my last game...really don't want to invite him because fuck that guy, LOL.
I went the opposite way and built my game starting with cash games and then threw out the idea of a tournament and got great response. I’ve had a lot of success building the game starting with cash games.

there is less of a commitment with a cash game: show up anytime, leave at any time, you control your own stakes (to a limit), more casual because there isn’t the competitive pressure of a tournament. Even for myself, before I was into poker I had been invited to tournaments and only enjoyed the social side and never the poker side. I had never left a poker night with money in my pocket. First time I was invited to a cash game I was blown away at how much fun the actual poker was and I could believe that I won $10! Haha. Then, I was hooked.

I was able to build a solid game over the course of 9 months and then at the end of 9 months of cash games only, I hosted our first tournament and got 28 entries. Pretty fun!

i understand the thought that people know they only will lose $15 a night. But too few people win often enough for it to be fun. At a cash game you can have a lot of people up in the night or break even. Just some thoughts.
 

TRAINERSTEVE

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I went the opposite way and built my game starting with cash games and then threw out the idea of a tournament and got great response. I’ve had a lot of success building the game starting with cash games.

there is less of a commitment with a cash game: show up anytime, leave at any time, you control your own stakes (to a limit), more casual because there isn’t the competitive pressure of a tournament. Even for myself, before I was into poker I had been invited to tournaments and only enjoyed the social side and never the poker side. I had never left a poker night with money in my pocket. First time I was invited to a cash game I was blown away at how much fun the actual poker was and I could believe that I won $10! Haha. Then, I was hooked.

I was able to build a solid game over the course of 9 months and then at the end of 9 months of cash games only, I hosted our first tournament and got 28 entries. Pretty fun!

i understand the thought that people know they only will lose $15 a night. But too few people win often enough for it to be fun. At a cash game you can have a lot of people up in the night or break even. Just some thoughts.
One other thing is the time - it’s a lot easier to commit to playing for 2 hours than a tournament that you really don’t know when it will end. Maybe 4 or 5 hours, maybe more. And even then, you usually aren’t relaxed like you are in a cash game.
 

legonick

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I went the opposite way and built my game starting with cash games and then threw out the idea of a tournament and got great response. I’ve had a lot of success building the game starting with cash games.

there is less of a commitment with a cash game: show up anytime, leave at any time, you control your own stakes (to a limit), more casual because there isn’t the competitive pressure of a tournament. Even for myself, before I was into poker I had been invited to tournaments and only enjoyed the social side and never the poker side. I had never left a poker night with money in my pocket. First time I was invited to a cash game I was blown away at how much fun the actual poker was and I could believe that I won $10! Haha. Then, I was hooked.

I was able to build a solid game over the course of 9 months and then at the end of 9 months of cash games only, I hosted our first tournament and got 28 entries. Pretty fun!

i understand the thought that people know they only will lose $15 a night. But too few people win often enough for it to be fun. At a cash game you can have a lot of people up in the night or break even. Just some thoughts.

How often does your game run? 28 entries for the tournament - that's wild! Were you running multiple cash tables at once? I'm struggling to get 8 people to join in!
 

TRAINERSTEVE

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How often does your game run? 28 entries for the tournament - that's wild! Were you running multiple cash tables at once? I'm struggling to get 8 people to join in!
It fluctuates but typically played with 3 times a month. We built up a pool of people who would rotate in so the same guys weren’t playing that often. And we had two or three homes people played in. I hosted twice a month typically. Over the course of 9 months had a list of about 20 players who jumped in and then they invited another 8. There were maybe 6 or so nights we needed to break into two cash game tables. Other times over the course of the night guys came in and out and we were able to keep one table.
 

TRAINERSTEVE

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It fluctuates but typically played with 3 times a month. We built up a pool of people who would rotate in so the same guys weren’t playing that often. And we had two or three homes people played in. I hosted twice a month typically. Over the course of 9 months had a list of about 20 players who jumped in and then they invited another 8. There were maybe 6 or so nights we needed to break into two cash game tables. Other times over the course of the night guys came in and out and we were able to keep one
Also with a cash game you don’t feel the pressure to get people there. Tournaments rely on great turnout whereas a cash game can be a blast with 6 players. It’s an easier invite when players don’t sense that you “need” them to play. Instead it’s there if they want to come. If someone shows interest in getting better at poker I send them some quick tip article on not limping, playing fewer hands, being tight and aggressive and how to semi-bluff. When they understand what’s happening they like it more. Nothing crazy but enough that they get a feel for the strategy.
 
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