Cash Game How I Bank at a Home Game in an Increasingly Cashless Society (3 Viewers)

ArielVer18

Straight
Joined
Feb 23, 2018
Messages
938
Reaction score
1,269
Location
Oakland, CA
The traditional way to bank is to trade chips for cash. Players hand the banker cash to receive chips. When a player is ready to cash out, he hands his chips back to the banker for cash. Simple concept.

A pure cashless home game is also relatively simple. Write down everyone's buy-in and rebuys on a ledger. At the end of the game, count everyone's stacks to calculate everyone's wins and losses. If all the positive and negative numbers add up to zero, that means the math was done correctly. All the losing players pay the biggest winner their net loss and the other winners request their profit from the biggest winner. All transactions are electronic.

My player pool has mixed opinions about cash. Some players have been gambling for decades and are used to the idea of bringing cash to a poker night. Others will find it odd that physical cash is still required for a social gathering when there are dozens of cashless payment methods.

If you're a cash only home poker host and have no intention of trying something new, please avert your eyes. The following may shock you ;)


My Hybrid Banking System

I've developed a hybrid banking system to accommodate everyone. Players either buy chips with cash up front or play on credit. However, all debts must be settled before the player walks out the door. Venmo, Zelle, PaypalFF, CashApp, Apple Pay, paper checks, crypto, or whatever the banker deems acceptable is fine.

Pretend this is a bar: either pay for your drink instantly or open a tab and pay at the end.

To clarify, cash up front is still the only acceptable form of payment for chips. If a player wants to Venmo me for a buy-in, I politely tell him I'll write down how much he wants in a ledger and figure it out later. This will minimize the number of electronic transactions.

I'll use "Venmo" in my examples, but it can be substituted with any cashless transaction method.

Cash Buy-In
  1. Player announces he wants to buy in
  2. Banker repeats the announcement to the entire table
  3. Accept the cash
  4. Place cash in a temporary location (for me, on the rail in front of me underneath a notepad)
  5. Place new chips in front of player for two-party visual verification (ask for 3rd person if preferred)
  6. Move cash from temporary location to where you normally keep the rest of everyone's cash (for me, front right pants pocket)
Cashless Buy-In
  1. Player announces he wants to buy in
  2. Banker repeats the announcement to the entire table
  3. Write down Name and Amount
  4. Place new chips in front of player for two-party visual verification (ask for 3rd person if preferred)
  5. Add check mark
It's a good habit to do these steps in order. Speed and urgency isn't important since purchased chips, even if they have not arrived yet, may play at the start of the next hand. If you're in the middle of a hand, finish your hand. Don't let anyone try to rush you. Be consistent with following the procedures to avoid making mistakes.

For example, if I got distracted and came back to my seat to see cash in front of me, that means I'm in the middle of step 4 or 5 of the Cash Buy-In procedure.

I'm not claiming these are the best procedures; these are simply my procedures. Whatever procedure you choose, ensure they're consistent and simple enough to do, even when inebriated.


How to Handle Players Leaving Early

Credit players leave with their profit (otherwise the juice starts five points a week on Mike)

(chip stack) - (buyin) = profit

Profit can be provided in cash. If the player prefers cashless, the banker will Venmo the profit amount to the player and write down a negative number next to the banker's name in the ledger. The negative number means the poker bank owes that amount to the banker's personal wallet.

Credit players leaving early with a loss need to pay immediately. Venmo the banker and the banker will write down a positive number next to the banker's name in the ledger. The positive number means the banker's personal wallet owes that amount to the poker bank.

In other words, credit player leaving early with a profit:
stack - buyin = get cash OR venmo & -# me

Credit player leaving early with a loss:
buyin - stack = venmo me; +# me


How to End the Game

Cash out time at the end of the game is worrisome for all hosts. The slowest, but most secure, procedure is for the banker to count everyone's chip stack. For me, a few minutes before the end of the game, I count the cash so I know how much the total number of chips on the table should add up to. At the end of the game, everyone counts their own stack and shouts out how much they think they're owed. This step doesn't take too long because players normally start counting before the last hand is over, especially after they've already folded. I fill out the following chart:

PlayerTotal CreditChip StackWin/Loss
Ariel
Bob
Charlie
David
Eric
Frank
George
etc etc etc

Handy reference to verify the math
Total Cash + Sum of Total Credit = Total chips in play
Sum of Chip Stack = Total chips in play
Sum of Win/Loss = Total Cash

If the math is correct, everyone gets paid at the same time. If it's off, I say it's wrong and to recount, but I don't tell them how much it's off by in case someone wants to game the system. If there's really one or two players who can't count correctly, they get help from me or a neighboring player (with a mandatory healthy dose of friendly needling, of course).

Whether or not there's enough cash to pay everyone depends on where your players are on the cash/cashless spectrum. If there isn't enough cash left, you can figure out as a group who wants the cash. For example, you can pay the diehard cash-only players in cash first. My crew generally does not have a preference between receiving cash or cashless, but most people do not want to receive a massive stack of small denomination bills.

Most of the time, the biggest winner can be the central hub for all the electronic transfers. All the losing players pay the biggest winner their net losses and the other winners request their net winnings from the biggest winner. This minimizes* the number of transactions and amount transferred while keeping it simple to understand.
*There's actually an algorithm to truly minimize the number of transactions and amount transferred and can even discourage transactions between players who aren't very familiar with each other, but it requires complex math that no one wants to do at the end of a long poker session.

By the way, I use the word "request" because that's what Venmo calls it, but essentially it's sending a payment request or an invoice that's due upon receipt. It's less troublesome for the biggest winner to simply receive payment from losing players and tapping the "accept" button from the other players.

The banker can be the central hub if the biggest winner isn't comfortable with the role. The losing players can pay the banker and winning players can request payment from the banker.


Optional Task

I like to verify the bank once an hour. I know the total value of the chips I brought out and I would count the remaining chips in my chip case to see how much did not make it onto the table yet.

(Total chips) - (remaining chips in case) = (chips on the poker table)

Then I will count the cash and add up all the credit extended. If this number matches the total value of chips on the table, then the bank is correct.
 

bsdunbar1

4 of a Kind
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
5,350
Reaction score
14,362
Location
LaVista, NE
This seems like more work than the traditional cash for chips and chips for cash.

I agree it is, but I do some of the same
I have players who have no clue what a Venmo is, and players who never have cash.

My head remembers since buy-ins are usually in $100 increments. If I get a couple on credit then I'll jot a note in my phone. That's the extent of what I do.

I could take a hard stance either way, but my end goal is to have people stay and play cash after our league tourney so I have to be flexible.
 

upNdown

Royal Flush
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
17,522
Reaction score
26,505
Location
boston
Hey, whatever works for you. I’ll avert my eyes. Maybe it’s a generational thing.
FWIW, for the 8-max game I’ve been running this year, (and granted I’ve only had 15-20 unique players) I haven’t had a single player even mention cashless play. But I don’t think I’ve had anybody under 35 years old.
 

quintooo

Two Pair
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
320
Reaction score
796
Location
Bay Area, California
as a gen-z on the forum, playing with other gen-z, here's what I noticed from hosting and playing in other gen-z games regarding payments/cash:

1. we have an insane level of trust with strangers. I've gone to 0.25/0.5 and 0.5/1 games where we all play on credit and losers pay biggest winners. Sometimes we buy in for upwards to $1000-2000 at these games.

2. younger people just usually don't carry cash, as we've all grown accustomed to venmo/zelle.

3. younger generation only started playing poker just a bit pre-pandemic or during pandemic, where cashless was the norm. This carried over to live home games.

of course, ymmv depending on location and people. I play with a bunch of tech zoomers, so they're probably used to their net worth going +/- $5k in a night.
 

DeusEx

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Messages
2,339
Reaction score
2,990
Location
Indy
For paper payments I prefer out of state 3rd party checks postdated at least 2 months, or a scratched pad note with hand written account number and freeform signature.

I didn’t avert my eyes but I have to say if you show up with no money and expected to play poker, um… you’re doing it wrong. I’ve used several forms of payment after cash has ran out - both ways, but showing up ill prepared isn’t really kosher imo. And if I’m bring cash I expect to leave with cash paid out if I win

All that said, thanks for sharing.
 

DeusEx

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Messages
2,339
Reaction score
2,990
Location
Indy
as a gen-z on the forum
I think you make a point about age, as a younger gen X, we often straddle the payment gap; Perhaps its what I'm use to the most but I prefer the cash aspect.
 

TheOffalo

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2021
Messages
2,551
Reaction score
3,868
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I like the simplicity of cash, but after almost 3 years of playing mostly-weekly online with my home game group (on DonkHouse) and the necessity of cashless, I'm used to dealing with Venmo/PayPal/etc, and it's not a big deal.

And when we started mixing in live games, some of the guys liked not having to deal with cash, so I end up doing a hybrid format not quite like the OP (I do have players send payments as they buy in).
 

MrCatPants

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,707
Reaction score
5,535
Location
Houston, Texas
I always keep around some extra cash and will take electronic forms of payment to "buy" cash from me, but in my opinion you are running a non-zero risk creating a (electronic) paper trail and using electronic payments systems that most of which have gambling listed in the TOS as an improper use of the service. You have risk of funds being frozen, or if your game ever runs afoul of the authorities you also have a clear record of funds taken in.

Wouldn't ever allow players to play on credit either. It only takes one time for someone to get in over their head with a recent financial situation that you don't know about that brings the whole system of trust down.
 

ArielVer18

Straight
Joined
Feb 23, 2018
Messages
938
Reaction score
1,269
Location
Oakland, CA
This seems like more work than the traditional cash for chips and chips for cash.
Most of the games I play at have already transitioned to pure cashless. I personally prefer cash only too, but I understand the appeal of a pure cashless game. I've created and fine tuned this hybrid system for my own game in the last few years to accommodate the traditionalist.


I always keep around some extra cash and will take electronic forms of payment to "buy" cash from me
This was my band-aid solution for over a decade until I hosted a game in 2020 with mostly new players and only TWO players (including myself) had cash. The two of us were able to cover the cash in the room, but there was too much added complexity. Hindsight, it would've been easier to convert that game to pure cashless.


Wouldn't ever allow players to play on credit either. It only takes one time for someone to get in over their head with a recent financial situation that you don't know about that brings the whole system of trust down.
At my game, you're not leaving the premise until you square your debts. No "I'm just gonna find a cash machine" BS excuse either; you either come with enough cash or you have some other way to pay. I don't like games that doesn't settle the money on the same day.
 

quintooo

Two Pair
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
320
Reaction score
796
Location
Bay Area, California
Wouldn't ever allow players to play on credit either. It only takes one time for someone to get in over their head with a recent financial situation that you don't know about that brings the whole system of trust down.

Yep, it's 100% a fear of mine that players get deep in the hole and can't make payments. I personally don't allow first-timers to play on credit. With my regulars though, knowing they make a lot of money makes me more at ease that they can pay a couple G's on a bad night.
 

MrCatPants

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,707
Reaction score
5,535
Location
Houston, Texas
At my game, you're not leaving the premise until you square your debts. No "I'm just gonna find a cash machine" BS excuse either; you either come with enough cash or you have some other way to pay. I don't like games that doesn't settle the money on the same day.
There will eventually at some point be someone unable to pay. Especially as we are about to go into a down economy - people will lose jobs, dip into savings, etc. - would be careful on this heading into 2023.
 

TheOffalo

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2021
Messages
2,551
Reaction score
3,868
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I think it'll really depend on your group. I've been playing with my core group for a dozen years, and others in the group for two decades. Our wives are friends, our kids are friends. Among us, I'd have no problem letting anyone carry a balance for a few weeks (or months). But almost everyone prefers to settle up per session, so that's not an issue.

We do mix in new players, but since standard practice is to reconcile before breaking the game, that's not an issue, and if there was a weird situation where someone couldn't pay, the core member who brought the new player would vouch/cover. So far it's never been a problem, knock on wood, and cashless makes it less of an issue because there's no excuse even if you don't bring enough cash...
 

Marius L

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
4,744
Reaction score
7,390
Location
Oslo, Norway
100% cashless here as well for a friendly game with people i know. Going to a poker game and ending up with a bunch of small bills and coins would be a nightmare scenario for me. Lol
 

grantc54

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
5,454
Reaction score
8,604
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
What if there is an issue with the cahs transfer service? Sounds like you have multiple options, but we've had Interac go down in Canada (common method for etransfers), and Ive had my bank go down for accepting etransfers before.

For that reason I only do cash transfers in advance of receiving chips. I have enough cash on hand to cover the bank and payouts are in cash. I'd rather not be dealing with issues at the conclusion of a poker night.
 

Lemonzest

4 of a Kind
Joined
Aug 31, 2017
Messages
7,131
Reaction score
7,951
Location
...
1. we have an insane level of trust with strangers.
This seems naïve. Plenty of bad actors out there and I am not talking about Nicolas Cage.

I have seen so many people get burned with the following logic. "I am a good person and always repay my debts, therefore I assume other people are like me". Don't assume other people are like you.
 

sheikh617

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Messages
4,980
Reaction score
10,331
Location
Boston, MA
Hey, whatever works for you. I’ll avert my eyes. Maybe it’s a generational thing.
FWIW, for the 8-max game I’ve been running this year, (and granted I’ve only had 15-20 unique players) I haven’t had a single player even mention cashless play. But I don’t think I’ve had anybody under 35 years old.
Me under 35 but I do carry the cash lol
 

glynn

Pair
Joined
Aug 7, 2021
Messages
217
Reaction score
267
Location
Boston
No notes on your post, I just want to say that your threads are always good. You put a lot of thought into the why on topics that often get stuck in the what.
 

Taghkanic

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2017
Messages
5,225
Reaction score
5,855
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I appreciate the effort put into this post.

That said, players buying in for cash and only cash makes my hosting life simpler.

Also, even though I don’t rake my game, I still prefer that there is no electronic record of it. There can be substantial amounts in play and regular large-ish transactions invite scrutiny.

Lastly, cash can sometimes act as a good psychological stopgap for losing players. We all play to take others’ money. But as a host I don’t want anyone to lose more than they can sustain. I think it is a lot easier to buy back that “one last time” (and then again, and again) if you can do it virtually.
 
Last edited:

upNdown

Royal Flush
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
17,522
Reaction score
26,505
Location
boston
Me under 35 but I do carry the cash lol
Sorry buddy, didn’t mean to age you, haha.

@TheRealTeddyKGB and others know I love buying cash from others because I never bring enough :whistle: :whistling:
I remember at a meet-up, one guy was looking to trade his cash for PayPal, because that gave him chipping funds the wife wouldn’t know about. Which is hilariously awesome.
 

mike32

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2013
Messages
3,454
Reaction score
5,995
Location
South Lyon, Michigan
So far I have had a few players Venmo or Paypal me money when I am hosting. I ask them to send me the money on the spot, then put my own cash in the bank and give them the chips. It works for me so far. Would probably become annoying if it happened on a larger scale. We have lots of older guys in our group and most everyone brings ca$h.
 

sheikh617

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Messages
4,980
Reaction score
10,331
Location
Boston, MA
Sorry buddy, didn’t mean to age you, haha.


I remember at a meet-up, one guy was looking to trade his cash for PayPal, because that gave him chipping funds the wife wouldn’t know about. Which is hilariously awesome.
Nah I was just joshin'. I need to make it back over to a game sometime.
 

Taghkanic

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2017
Messages
5,225
Reaction score
5,855
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I’ll say this as well… Though I’m hardly a prepper, I do believe in having a certain (healthy) amount of cash stashed safely where I can find it in an emergency. This is essentially also my poker bankroll. If I spend any cash, I replenish it from poker winnings. This has worked well enough for me that I can’t remember my bank card PIN, it’s been that long since I hit an ATM…
 

cpac54

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
5,450
Reaction score
12,810
Location
Zurich, Switzerland
Our group is still very much cash in, cash out. Cash is still very prevalent here in Switzerland though, so it's not an issue at all. That said, in instances where we don't have smaller bills for some reason, we'll just TWINT players (e-transfer via mobile number) the difference. Anything less than $10 (which would be loose change/coins here) has almost always been donated to "the House" as a thank-you for whoever is hosting that night. Seems to work for everyone in our group.
 

quintooo

Two Pair
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
320
Reaction score
796
Location
Bay Area, California
This seems naïve. Plenty of bad actors out there and I am not talking about Nicolas Cage.

I have seen so many people get burned with the following logic. "I am a good person and always repay my debts, therefore I assume other people are like me". Don't assume other people are like you.

I am 24 years old, so some naivety can be assumed haha.

I have been burned before, but more so in games that operated more like underground casinos (we were not playing on credit). Not sure if anyone here was part of a certain online poker community during the pandemic, but the bank/guys handling the money, ran off with like 40k or so. Of course, being a bunch of 20-somethings, we all banded together to dox this guy and bring him to court.

Not sure how the lawsuit turned out (seems like a case the judge would throw out with his coffee), but I eventually got paid back somehow.

anyways, anecdote aside, I do understand there are bad actors out there. I choose to trust my players. If I'm out $1000 or so because some guy dipped the game without paying, I'm happy to pay $1000 to never see that guy ever again in my life. He's probably a nit anyways.
 

Poker Zombie

Royal Flush
Joined
Oct 29, 2014
Messages
15,634
Reaction score
30,786
Location
Nashville-ish
I prefer cash. Simple, fast, no middle man.

I do have 2 players now that are strictly cashless. It's a little irritating as I have to make sure to have the cash on hand for conversion to winning cash players, but on the irritating scale somewhere between "the loud talker" and the player that always forgets the action is on them.

Our games play pretty small ($30-$60 a night maximum), so there is not a security issue. If the game played in the deep thousands, I might want security on premises or handle things electronically.

That said, younger people are more likely to be cashless. If you want to keep your game alive, it is important to keep an eye on the trends and have a plan, which is why I am following this thread. I just hope it's something I never have to implement on a wide-scale basis.
 

72o

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
5,164
Reaction score
8,900
Location
MA
…I remember at a meet-up, one guy was looking to trade his cash for PayPal, because that gave him chipping funds the wife wouldn’t know about. Which is hilariously awesome.
This is the ONLY way that I can buy chips. LOL. I meet up with my brother, give him the cash and then he sends me the Paypal. Everything else is “under scrutiny” to some extent so you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

And we use only cash here. I NEVER have cash on me but make exceptions for pokah…and so does everyone else in my crew.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account and join our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Top Bottom