How to find players for a new home game?

PARADOX

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I've never had social skills.

I have Mrs Zombie though. She's the outgoing one, and the main draw into our group. I'm happier to dive into spreadsheets and statistics, and cook a good meal for the group.

One of my spreadsheets tracks players and how they perform against their spouses. Only once have we had to explain that "soft play" was illegal (she honestly did not know). Most of the time, spouses are out for their better-half's blood. I mean, if I'm running hot, I'm taking Mrs Zombie down, and using those chips to give me an edge.

Don't get me wrong though. Spouses have better reads on each other than two random opponents. That's just good poker.
My wife calls me out of spite a lot of the times lol!
 

Flawed_Titan

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All, I have just finished building my table! The foam is a little lumpy in one spot and the vinyl is is a little wavy on the bottom of the outside curves but you can’t quite tell. All in all, I’m quite surprised with how well it turned out! Check it out:


P.S. Next on the list is cushioned chairs.
 

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MoT519

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All, I have just finished building my table! The foam is a little lumpy in one spot and the vinyl is is a little wavy on the bottom of the outside curves but you can’t quite tell. All in all, I’m quite surprised with how well it turned out! Check it out:


P.S. Next on the list is cushioned chairs.
Nicely done!
 

PARADOX

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All, I have just finished building my table! The foam is a little lumpy in one spot and the vinyl is is a little wavy on the bottom of the outside curves but you can’t quite tell. All in all, I’m quite surprised with how well it turned out! Check it out:


P.S. Next on the list is cushioned chairs.
Nice job on the table. The outside curves are a bastard!

DO NOT skimp out on your seating!
 

MuckingPro

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Dayum! That table looks really cozy and ready for a lot of action!
I used to post in poker forums in my area to invite people looking for games and I got a few replys.
It was easier back then because we played at a place that served bubble tea and allowed groups of friends to play board games but we played poker.
It's less invasive to be in a public setting at first.
Since then, 8 years ago I'm still friends with one of the people who replied, he's become apart of our crew ever since and we still play poker every week.

With that being said, I recommend to play with new people you meet in a public setting for about 6-12 months (depends how often you play) to get to know them really well before inviting them home. Especially if you have a spouse at home. If they turn out to be the type you don't want to invite back, at least they won't know where you live. If you invite absolute strangers to your house it could get awkward, since at first they would be coming to try to win money and not necessarily to make friends.

How you manage your home game really depends on what you want it to evolve into.
You have all the right tools. The cards, the chips, and the table.
Now you need players and you need them to want to keep coming back.
You need to know what players want from your game and you need to provide that to them.

Figuring out the right stake to play at, are the players really competitive or are they just playing for jokes to pass time?
Do you want to start offering food, drinks, and beer and start raking for expenses?
Do you want the stakes to get higher? You can start by adding a straddle button. During the first hand a straddle button is in the pot and goes to the winner of the pot. When the player with the straddle button is utg they put out the button acting as a third blind doubling the big blind and will have the last option to check, call, or raise. The winner of this pot will take the straddle button and use it utg. If the player forgets to use the straddle button, they immediately put it in the pot and will go to the next winner.

Try creating a poker group chat in WhatsApp or any messaging app. Give the group chat a good poker name and picture, add every poker player you know and start talking about poker hands during the week, post pictures of your chips, cards, and table, ask if they have friends to invite and try to get a game together by the weekend!
 

Flawed_Titan

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Dayum! That table looks really cozy and ready for a lot of action!
I used to post in poker forums in my area to invite people looking for games and I got a few replys.
It was easier back then because we played at a place that served bubble tea and allowed groups of friends to play board games but we played poker.
It's less invasive to be in a public setting at first.
Since then, 8 years ago I'm still friends with one of the people who replied, he's become apart of our crew ever since and we still play poker every week.

With that being said, I recommend to play with new people you meet in a public setting for about 6-12 months (depends how often you play) to get to know them really well before inviting them home. Especially if you have a spouse at home. If they turn out to be the type you don't want to invite back, at least they won't know where you live. If you invite absolute strangers to your house it could get awkward, since at first they would be coming to try to win money and not necessarily to make friends.

How you manage your home game really depends on what you want it to evolve into.
You have all the right tools. The cards, the chips, and the table.
Now you need players and you need them to want to keep coming back.
You need to know what players want from your game and you need to provide that to them.

Figuring out the right stake to play at, are the players really competitive or are they just playing for jokes to pass time?
Do you want to start offering food, drinks, and beer and start raking for expenses?
Do you want the stakes to get higher? You can start by adding a straddle button. During the first hand a straddle button is in the pot and goes to the winner of the pot. When the player with the straddle button is utg they put out the button acting as a third blind doubling the big blind and will have the last option to check, call, or raise. The winner of this pot will take the straddle button and use it utg. If the player forgets to use the straddle button, they immediately put it in the pot and will go to the next winner.

Try creating a poker group chat in WhatsApp or any messaging app. Give the group chat a good poker name and picture, add every poker player you know and start talking about poker hands during the week, post pictures of your chips, cards, and table, ask if they have friends to invite and try to get a game together by the weekend!
Nice response! Thanks for the advice. You're probably right about the public setting. It usually takes pressure off of people either way. The one tool I don't have is comfy chairs... I need to upgrade our dining room chairs so I may just do an all-in-one setup. I definitely need to start up a group chat and get my buddies into it asap.
 

surfik

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I had few regulars from casino tournaments.... But in Poland cash games in casino are not allowed, so bit different situation
Still good place to meet players
 

legonick

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Disclaimer, I haven't read the entire thread, but did read about half.

Welcome to the hard and shitty part of poker night! The players, LOL. Not the players, but the cat wrangling that is getting the game together. It's hard to get good regulars. And takes time. So you don't be down on yourself if things aren't stellar on your turnout for your first night, or many nights after that.

Most of my players are coworkers or ex-coworkers, or friends from high school or college that have stayed in the area. I'm branching into the friends-of-friends area now, and it's not totally comfortable, but I'm hoping I can get some good steady players from those connections. I run a (hopefully) 9-handed tournament once a month, gentlemen only for the moment.

I recommend inviting LOTS of people, way more than you are targeting, and just cut it off at your target number if you hit it. Unless you have a very stable regular group, this is the only way to do it. What you'll find is a lot of people may attend once, and then that's it. If you invite someone to something, it's novel. If it's a regular game, it's not as novel the next time around, and you have player attrition, sadly. Again, don't beat yourself up. Ultimately people who like poker will stick around. So look for them. They may be way better than you, kick your ass, always cash, etc. Learn from them.
 

Flawed_Titan

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Disclaimer, I haven't read the entire thread, but did read about half.

Welcome to the hard and shitty part of poker night! The players, LOL. Not the players, but the cat wrangling that is getting the game together. It's hard to get good regulars. And takes time. So you don't be down on yourself if things aren't stellar on your turnout for your first night, or many nights after that.

Most of my players are coworkers or ex-coworkers, or friends from high school or college that have stayed in the area. I'm branching into the friends-of-friends area now, and it's not totally comfortable, but I'm hoping I can get some good steady players from those connections. I run a (hopefully) 9-handed tournament once a month, gentlemen only for the moment.

I recommend inviting LOTS of people, way more than you are targeting, and just cut it off at your target number if you hit it. Unless you have a very stable regular group, this is the only way to do it. What you'll find is a lot of people may attend once, and then that's it. If you invite someone to something, it's novel. If it's a regular game, it's not as novel the next time around, and you have player attrition, sadly. Again, don't beat yourself up. Ultimately people who like poker will stick around. So look for them. They may be way better than you, kick your ass, always cash, etc. Learn from them.
The cat wrangling. Definitely. All my buddies are cats… impossible to get a hard yes for any event, haha. Most people are like that though.
I really don’t mind if people always cash on me. I just really love to play poker, I’m mildly ok at it, and I want to hang out with friends and drink. If everyone would sit and bs and drink while watching me play my favorite single-player video game, I’d be pretty happy too. xD
I guess the best advice I’ve gotten so far is to just bring it up casually to people I know that I run a poker game and if anyone bites hard enough, hopefully I hook them!

Thanks all for the responses! This thread got a bit larger than I expected!
 

DeeVee8

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#1. Friends-of-friends. If players have a good time, they'll invite others. Oftentimes I've told players "glad you enjoyed the game, help it grow and spread the word". When you feel like you're constantly nagging players about this, you're almost nagging them enough.

#2. Be a host. These are your guests. Give them a spread. Snacks, pizza, etc. 3 words: Hot. Dog. Roller. I've always used BYOB, so people can choose their own poison. But I've always got beer in the fridge. I have several who offer to bring things, which is great. I never knew I liked spinach dip until one of my players stepped up.

#3. Tournaments. As @Poker Zombie stated, cash games are going to scare off casual gamblers. You need casual gamblers. Far more people are willing to blow $20-40 on a night's entertainment than want to be hardcore gamblers. Once you pay the entry, there's no more "money management" to concern yourself with. Except maybe that rebuy...

#4. Meetup. I've had a great deal of success with this. Create a group at meetup.com. About 25% of the people who join the meetup will actually show up to a game. You'll probably pick up 2-4 people, then see Rule 1. Meetup charges monthly, so I'll only leave it up for a month or two. Once they come to the game, I get them on our game's regular distribution list.

#5. Scheduling. How often do you play? How do you notify players? A steady schedule helps the game become part of your players routine. Routines are good for attendance. Don't change/cancel your game unless someone is dying or you have fewer than 5 players. For notification, I use a group webpage, Facebook and the Band app. Its nearly impossible to get everyone on the same platform, but do your best.

#6. If you game isn't growing, its dying. I know my game is humming when I have 8-10 die hards who want to play every month, and another 8-10 casual players who show up occasionally. That will consistently give me 12-15 players for each tourney.
 

Flawed_Titan

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#1. Friends-of-friends. If players have a good time, they'll invite others. Oftentimes I've told players "glad you enjoyed the game, help it grow and spread the word". When you feel like you're constantly nagging players about this, you're almost nagging them enough.

#2. Be a host. These are your guests. Give them a spread. Snacks, pizza, etc. 3 words: Hot. Dog. Roller. I've always used BYOB, so people can choose their own poison. But I've always got beer in the fridge. I have several who offer to bring things, which is great. I never knew I liked spinach dip until one of my players stepped up.

#3. Tournaments. As @Poker Zombie stated, cash games are going to scare off casual gamblers. You need casual gamblers. Far more people are willing to blow $20-40 on a night's entertainment than want to be hardcore gamblers. Once you pay the entry, there's no more "money management" to concern yourself with. Except maybe that rebuy...

#4. Meetup. I've had a great deal of success with this. Create a group at meetup.com. About 25% of the people who join the meetup will actually show up to a game. You'll probably pick up 2-4 people, then see Rule 1. Meetup charges monthly, so I'll only leave it up for a month or two. Once they come to the game, I get them on our game's regular distribution list.

#5. Scheduling. How often do you play? How do you notify players? A steady schedule helps the game become part of your players routine. Routines are good for attendance. Don't change/cancel your game unless someone is dying or you have fewer than 5 players. For notification, I use a group webpage, Facebook and the Band app. Its nearly impossible to get everyone on the same platform, but do your best.

#6. If you game isn't growing, its dying. I know my game is humming when I have 8-10 die hards who want to play every month, and another 8-10 casual players who show up occasionally. That will consistently give me 12-15 players for each tourney.
Great breakdown, I'll be hosting my first game with diehard poker friends this weekend but it'll probably only be 5 people. In the past (before I took over), we have usually played with just 4 for the most part so hopefully they will feel like I am upgrading the game. I am a firm believer of the scheduling law. If it's not scheduled, they wont come.

lol @ hotdog roller (or were you serious?)
 

MoT519

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I've struggled with this as well. I play with a group of degenerates monthly as part of a poker league. Usually we are playing in someone's garage where it's either too hot or cold. Cheaper folding tables, plastic chips...but it's all about the poker. Anything goes in that group including betting on high school sports if there is no pro or college sport on TV that night. It's a mix of people I know and some randos. Starts with a tournament and there is usually a 1/2 cash game after that.

When hosting at home, I didn't want to risk of having that much money on the table so I went low stakes .25/.50. Those low stakes just don't get my degenerate friends interested. And I don't blame them! So, I've had to break out all the stops to get my friends that like poker but aren't as serious about it interested in coming. Having comfortable table/chairs, TV that can be seen from any seat, alcohol flowing, food, etc has been the key. Took a few games to iron out the kinks. The people that are vague or cancelled last minute regularly aren't invited anymore. Now, feels like I have a group of 12-15 that I can invite once every 4-8 weeks and know I'll get 8-9. I didn't have a rake or charge anyone for food....but over time everybody has started to bring food/snacks to share, so it's gotten easier to manage.
 

legonick

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I've struggled with this as well. I play with a group of degenerates monthly as part of a poker league. Usually we are playing in someone's garage where it's either too hot or cold. Cheaper folding tables, plastic chips...but it's all about the poker. Anything goes in that group including betting on high school sports if there is no pro or college sport on TV that night. It's a mix of people I know and some randos. Starts with a tournament and there is usually a 1/2 cash game after that.

When hosting at home, I didn't want to risk of having that much money on the table so I went low stakes .25/.50. Those low stakes just don't get my degenerate friends interested. And I don't blame them! So, I've had to break out all the stops to get my friends that like poker but aren't as serious about it interested in coming. Having comfortable table/chairs, TV that can be seen from any seat, alcohol flowing, food, etc has been the key. Took a few games to iron out the kinks. The people that are vague or cancelled last minute regularly aren't invited anymore. Now, feels like I have a group of 12-15 that I can invite once every 4-8 weeks and know I'll get 8-9. I didn't have a rake or charge anyone for food....but over time everybody has started to bring food/snacks to share, so it's gotten easier to manage.

Yeah that sounds like 2 distinct groups. The casual, I'm here for the beer/talk/camaraderie VS the hardcore I'm here for the cards people.

What I've found over time is the "casuals" don't have a lot of staying power. They become "fair weather players" - if there is nothing else going on, they may attend your game. Or they hit it once, get a feel, and don't come back. Or maybe they shoot for every other game (which wouldn't be so bad). But it's like, as soon as the novelty wears off, they just suck, LOL.

I'm convinced, no matter how nice your game is (and yours sound really nice), if people don't like poker, they will eventually stop attending. So always be recruiting! :)
 

DeeVee8

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Great breakdown, I'll be hosting my first game with diehard poker friends this weekend but it'll probably only be 5 people. In the past (before I took over), we have usually played with just 4 for the most part so hopefully they will feel like I am upgrading the game. I am a firm believer of the scheduling law. If it's not scheduled, they wont come.

lol @ hotdog roller (or were you serious?)
Lol. Search Hot Dog Roller and see.
 

MoT519

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Yeah that sounds like 2 distinct groups. The casual, I'm here for the beer/talk/camaraderie VS the hardcore I'm here for the cards people.

What I've found over time is the "casuals" don't have a lot of staying power. They become "fair weather players" - if there is nothing else going on, they may attend your game. Or they hit it once, get a feel, and don't come back. Or maybe they shoot for every other game (which wouldn't be so bad). But it's like, as soon as the novelty wears off, they just suck, LOL.

I'm convinced, no matter how nice your game is (and yours sound really nice), if people don't like poker, they will eventually stop attending. So always be recruiting! :)
Seems like a couple of casuals are starting to convert. A couple of them have even played poker at a casino at 1/2 since we started playing 3 years ago. They may never be full degenerate, but they are starting to become poker enthusiasts. But maybe only half of them....I think you're right about the others. Some casuals have come, lost their money, never improved, and left.
 

Poker Zombie

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lol @ hotdog roller (or were you serious?)
At this point, there is probably an entire thread dedicated the the Hot Dog Roller. They are very popular. I go next level...
1630596138404.png

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1630596308015.png


Of course, it helps when your crew contributes. However, poker is a skilled game. The more you play, the better you get. There is a very good chance you will play more than any of your other players, so you have the opportunity to get better than all of them. That helps to absorb some of the financial costs. The rest I attribute to the cost of entertainment.

On most nights, I spent $50 in food for a $20 buy-in. That's a cost I can budget for, and absorb as a party 8-9x a year .
 
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MuckingPro

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Great breakdown, I'll be hosting my first game with diehard poker friends this weekend but it'll probably only be 5 people. In the past (before I took over), we have usually played with just 4 for the most part so hopefully they will feel like I am upgrading the game. I am a firm believer of the scheduling law. If it's not scheduled, they wont come.

lol @ hotdog roller (or were you serious?)
What will you be playing at your game?
What stakes?
 

legonick

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At this point, there is probably an entire thread dedicated the the Hot Dog Roller. They are very popular. I go next level...
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View attachment 768876
View attachment 768877

Of course, it helps when your crew contributes. However, poker is a skilled game. The more you play, the better you get. There is a very good chance you will play more than any of your other players, so you have the opportunity to get better than all of them. That helps to absorb some of the financial costs. The rest I attribute to the cost of entertainment.

On most nights, I spent $50 in food for a $20 buy-in. That's a cost I can budget for and absorb on a 8-9x a year party.

Is it possible that at your events, people come for the food, and have to suffer through the poker? LOL. Nothing wrong with that. I'm just jealous.
 

legonick

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Seems like a couple of casuals are starting to convert. A couple of them have even played poker at a casino at 1/2 since we started playing 3 years ago. They may never be full degenerate, but they are starting to become poker enthusiasts. But maybe only half of them....I think you're right about the others. Some casuals have come, lost their money, never improved, and left.

That's awesome, and like my dream - to learn together as a group!

I'm not full degen., I only play online and at my own home game currently. I'm not good enough to venture into a casino or higher-stakes stuff. But I like the game...it's a really good game! Fun but challenging to play. The right mix of luck and skill. Poker enthusiast...the perfect term for me currently.

Have you done anything special to "convert" some of the casuals into poker enthusiasts? Or do you think they just naturally aligned that way and enjoy the game?
 

Poker Zombie

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I would absolutely say that if I stopped cooking, participation would drop significantly. I have players that regularly play much higher stakes, but will arrange plans (one flying in from Buffalo, one flying in from Phoenix) to attend the game.

At the same time, I wouldn't open a restaurant because I don't think I can cook that well. So I think it requires both to make it happen at this level.
 

Venturalvn

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I would also say that having too low of a stake is also a barrier to entry. A few games I've been invited to were for $10 or $20, and it's not even worth the gas to go over there. Not that I'm against having fun, but there needs to be value had from getting my ass to a location that's 20-40 drive away. The sweet spot for our game is a $60-100 buy in, with multiple rebuys coming in throughout the night. It's friendly, and the winner gets to buy a new toy or take their SO out to brunch the next day.

A couple of my regulars did a $10 tourney and it lasted until 2 in the morning, and was only 7 players because they were trying to start something new. That scenario couldn't be more of a turn off to me. 7 hours of less than a full table tournament to win $35 in profit? I'd rather stay home and drink with the dogs.

Note to say that I will sit around and crush my friends for $5 all day long just to rub it in their face, but when you're trying to grow a regular poker game with acquaintances and outside players, something to consider.
 

legonick

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I would also say that having too low of a stake is also a barrier to entry. A few games I've been invited to were for $10 or $20, and it's not even worth the gas to go over there. Not that I'm against having fun, but there needs to be value had from getting my ass to a location that's 20-40 drive away. The sweet spot for our game is a $60-100 buy in, with multiple rebuys coming in throughout the night. It's friendly, and the winner gets to buy a new toy or take their SO out to brunch the next day.

A couple of my regulars did a $10 tourney and it lasted until 2 in the morning, and was only 7 players because they were trying to start something new. That scenario couldn't be more of a turn off to me. 7 hours of less than a full table tournament to win $35 in profit? I'd rather stay home and drink with the dogs.

Seems like their tournament blind structure is wrong, or strange. 7 hours is a long tournament for a home game.

That said, if you are purely after profit, shouldn't you be playing casinos? Most home games are more about having fun. Although usually no rake at home games, but if all my players were purely after profit, I'd consider raking, LOL.
 

Venturalvn

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Seems like their tournament blind structure is wrong, or strange. 7 hours is a long tournament for a home game.

That said, if you are purely after profit, shouldn't you be playing casinos? Most home games are more about having fun. Although usually no rake at home games, but if all my players were purely after profit, I'd consider raking, LOL.
Yes agreed, the structure was wrong......for $10. If there were $10,000 on the line then I would play 7 hours straight without hesitation. Which leads to my original point...

Like I said, I'm not against having fun. Poker is a game based on money, and nothing else. Without money, there is no poker. Therefore, in order to have fun in the game, there needs to be the hope and option of taking something for your time, or in the very least, trying not to pain yourself by losing an amount that makes you wince a bit.
 
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