Monthly home game in a weird spot...thoughts? (1 Viewer)

legonick

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Monthly home game in a weird spot...thoughts?

First off, I'm not complaining! We had our first 2022 game this past Friday night and I had a blast, as I think most others did too. 9-handed STT. 1 player dinked us bad though, RSVPed yes then just totally ghosted. I called him at game start time, 8 PM, he's like "I'm at home, not going to make it." Tried to get a last minute fill but no takers. 2nd time he's done this, so he's on a 6 month black-list and bottom of the list after that, heh.

Anyways, the game is in a bit of a weird spot. It's mostly neighbors, co-workers, ex-co-workers, and friends right now. I haven't had much luck with friends-of-friends sticking around. I've had a few good poker players grace the game, but the slower pace of a few people turn them off, and even when they win they don't tend to come back (this has happened twice, possibly 3 times). It could be the stakes are too low - they were mostly $15 last year, and I upped them to $20 for simplicity this year, but I won't be raising them higher for normal games for the foreseeable future.

So that's where the game is in a bit of a strange spot. I've been managing to get 7 or 8, rarely 9, with friends who aren't into poker that much reasonable well, but it's a battle because they are often "fair weather players" - they'll come if they have nothing "better to do" and they tend to RSVP very very late, which drives me crazy. The guys who are poker players, battling it out in local card rooms, would make more of an effort to be here, but the friend players are too slow/wonky for them. They can't range them well, and the slower hands-per-hour drives them off.

I've played a few times in a local bar league recently and the speed at which the game is pushed is stupid fast. It's not really the player's fault - the blind levels are fast. 10 minute blinds and lots of doubling, yuck. They get 2 tournaments in when they play so it has to be fast. I don't remember the full structure but for example, there is this section: 500/1000 - break - 1000/2000 - 2000/4000. Damn. Best win some flips in there. So the players and dealers are really pushing you to make a move fast and it takes some of the fun out of it for me personally. My home game isn't like that. I get irked when people aren't aware of the action, but if some dude is in the tank for a big decision, that's fine, and even adds to the moment. If I'm the dealer and am dealing an all-in or something, it's fun to put the cards out slow, talk about outs, etc. Sweat it up, make it seem like the final table of the WSOP! Revel in the action! Don't just whack 5 cards out and shove the chips and deal the next one. Make it a sweat!

Anyways, any tips for mixing oil and water players? Or getting "water" (casual dudes) to be more committed to coming and RSVPing in a timely fashion?

Also, any tips for recruiting from a bar league? One of the TDs of the bar league is a really cool guy and he was down to play this past Friday but I thought we were full until that dink guy ghosted. When I pinged the new guy he said he was already in his PJs, LOL. It was worth a shot. There is another guy at the bar league who seems like my ideal player. Very chill guy, seems like a higher level of patience, just enjoys the game, but he didn't seem that excited about joining my home game. I'll show him a few pictures from the last one to show him the setup is legit and it's not some dirty basement with dirtbags or something, maybe he'll come around. Worth a shot. He wasn't excited but didn't exactly say no. He said maybe, but he's usually wiped out on Fridays, and we didn't exchange numbers yet, so yeah, we'll see. But I think he'd be a perfect guy who'd commit early and show up and have fun and do well.

There seems like maybe 4 types of players.

1. "Pros" - won't play most home games because the stakes are too low. Better off grinding cash at a local card room.
2. "Gamblers" - they just want to see lots of hands. Would get mad in a tournament setting without rebuys. Don't seem to be too cheerful. Maybe when they bink?
3. "Friends" - there for the drinks and chatter more than the cards. Usually not great poker players, but usually cheerful and have higher patience. But they tend to not RSVP and don't much care about the game...if something else comes up that they'd rather do, the game is left in the dust.
4. "Enthusiasts" - "noob pros"...they study the game some, enjoy poker, but don't feel like they are good enough/rich enough to play for high stakes. Like to play home games. Love cards, and are cheerful most of the time. Relatively high patience with newer players, even like to teach them sometimes.

I feel like I'm looking for a game full of 4s, but have mostly 3s with the occasional 1s who come in, crush, and never return. I've probably never had a 2 at the game, but I see them a good amount at the bar league.
 
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Rhodeman77

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Work with the friends that seem interested in playing regularly to get them to play better/faster. Make sure you are following standard casino tournament rules. Always be recruiting!

For $20, maybe make the structure a little faster then have a low stakes cash game afterwards if players stick around. Some players may come by for cash that didn’t want to play the tournament.

I used to run $20 tournaments every Friday then we would play 25/50c cash games as players busted.
 

upNdown

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Probably not much help here, because I’ve always struggled to fill my table. But it seems to me that a cash game is just a better format for home games, than a tournament, and for a number of reasons. Frankly, I’m shocked you’s ever get anybody in the 1 or 2 category to show up for a $20 tournament. It’s not the low stakes as much as the risk/reward situation, with the actual risk being the idea that you’ve committed an evening to this event and could get knocked out early vs a reward of winning what, $60? With a cash game, at least you’re guaranteed 4 or 6 or whatever hours of poker.

And my other thought is this (just one man’s opinion; take it with a grain of salt):
If I'm the dealer and am dealing an all-in or something, it's fun to put the cards out slow, talk about outs, etc. Sweat it up, make it seem like the final table of the WSOP! Revel in the action! Don't just whack 5 cards out and shove the chips and deal the next one. Make it a sweat!
I’d rip my own head off.
 

303Mike

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Small stakes home games are just as much about the enjoyment of playing with friends and getting together, rather than the poker alone.

Find something to spice up the gathering. Do something special not necessarily poker related. Things like a chili cookoff, or whiskey social, or watching favorite sporting event. Something like a “co-advertising” to keep it fresh and looking forward to.

And as more people come and look forward to the get together, the suggestions from others above will help solidify the poker aspect of it for the long haul.

And I certainly agree that cash games are much more attractive for the home game market.
 

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Yeah maybe I should try out a cash game. I feel like there are 2 downsides to the cash: "unlimited losses" (which is a bit unfounded, but perception is reality), and no bragging rights.

With a tournament you know the most you can lose is $20. The feeling of unlimited losses will scare at least 1 of my "about every other game" players. He's the same guy who chirped a bit at the increase from $15 to $20.

The bragging rights side is more concerning to me, as I ran a very rudimentary league aspect with points, and 2 of my more regular players, who happen to do pretty well, were interested in this aspect, watching themselves on the leader board etc. I wouldn't want to lose that part of the fun with a cash game, as that's also what I find at lot of fun in doing as well.
 

legonick

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And I certainly agree that cash games are much more attractive for the home game market.
Really? I don't think I agree, at least in regards to "friends" or super-casual players. Maybe it's a New Hampshire thing. The capped losses with a chance to bink a win seems better than potentially unlimited losses, although in reality this isn't very true. Most players can justify the money is what I mean. "OK I'll pay $20 for a night of fun. But it's even better than that, because I could win money back!" VS "Who knows how much I'll lose tonight...."
 
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If you drove out to play a $20 home game the last thing you want is to bust and then have nothing to do. This would be a clear deal breaker for me.

Almost nobody wants a cap put on them in general - anyone who does can just choose not to rebuy. The only person who should prefer the cap is someone with a gambling problem who gets stuck for 5+ buyins routinely and has major impulse control issues, and if you want to help them out, just put a cap on them. Or just don’t invite them. You’re basically punishing everyone to save a hypothetical degen who may or may not exist.
 

legonick

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Frankly, I’m shocked you’s ever get anybody in the 1 or 2 category to show up for a $20 tournament. It’s not the low stakes as much as the risk/reward situation, with the actual risk being the idea that you’ve committed an evening to this event and could get knocked out early vs a reward of winning what, $60? With a cash game, at least you’re guaranteed 4 or 6 or whatever hours of poker.
I must be a very lame individual, but what are they people doing that's something they couldn't do after the tournament?

Like, they can sit at home and watch Netflix, or come play the tournament. If they bust out, they can go home and sit and watch Netflix, LOL. Even the pros, could they not just go to the cash tables at a local card room after busting out? I think it is more the stakes, and the slowness of play, that damages the 1s and 2s.

That said, I don't think I want to target 1s and 2s. I really want 4s if that's a real one, as they are generally enjoyable people to have around, and usually patient, enjoy the game and talking about spots, and like to sweat the league aspect of it. They are the fan boys...they watch WSOP, they know players, they know all the terms, but maybe they aren't good at pot odds, or maybe they have trouble bluffing, and they usually have real-world jobs, they usually aren't "bros", LOL.
 
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legonick

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If you drove out to play a $20 home game the last thing you want is to bust and then have nothing to do. This would be a clear deal breaker for me.

Almost nobody wants a cap put on them in general. You can walk away at any point in a cash game (or a rebuy tournament), they’re not children. If there’s someone with a gambling problem who gets stuck for 5+ buyins routinely and you want to help them out, just put a cap on them. You’re basically punishing everyone to save a hypothetical degen who may or may not exist.
I get you.

What's funny is the opposite point is also true. Basically it's very very rare to get totally coolered in the first round of a STT. I checked the numbers as I'm going to try a pre-buy in an upcoming tournament, and this is what it shows, although I should go through these more to see exactly when someone busted, but none-the-less:

Code:
First number is how many people busted before the 2nd break.  Second number is the last round of the tournament.
02:    2    LR:    12
03:    3    LR:    9
04:    2    LR:    11
05:    6    LR:    7
06:    3    LR:    10
07:    1    LR:    15
08:    1    LR:    15

01:    3    LR: 14

The 2nd break is at the 2:12 minute mark in my current structure for 9 players. So aside from the game 5 anomaly, the majority of players are getting at least 2:12 of poker in. But yeah, that's not the full amount, it could be that everyone has the option to get 4ish hours in, which is still more, so I hear you.

I should run more stat.s to see about a cooler/donkey count, how many are busted before the first break, at 1:00 mark. I think that number is excessively small, like 0-1 for most tournaments. And the ones I recall are not coolers, as in KK VS AA or set over set, but more like weak 2-pair VS straight...so kind of just bad or drunken plays that didn't work out, LOL.
 

MrCatPants

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You're running a casual game right now with a casual structure. As people have already said, you'd be better off increasing the social elements with food, drink, around major sports events that you have on the TV at the same time, etc. People who are driving over for a $15 or $20 tournament are doing it because it's a social activity - the poker is not the primary pull.

I've been invited to games like this before. Before I knew better I'd go once to scope it out - but ultimately, you know when it's a social gathering first - and all the things you describe about your game fit that bill. I'm imagining this one game I went to years ago almost exactly - I took third in a multi-table tournament and never returned. Too slow, too loose with the rules, and I'd only really go if I made great friends with everyone.

Accordingly, you'll get more people to attend the game you are running as stands by making friends with more neighbors, work people, etc. but serious poker players are likely going to one and done it as you've described happening and I described above.

If you want to turn this into a more serious poker playing group you're going to have to likely play in groups where those people play. I inherited my original group from a 'friends and colleagues' game. I've only got one regular and two semi-regulars remaining from that group as the game changed. If you raise stakes and make it more serious you're likely going to lose your current players.
 

Rhodeman77

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While not a pro, I consider myself a high level player. The only way you will find me in a $20 tournament is if my non-poker friends wanted to have a game while we’re doing something else, like watching a game or fight, etc.

I will play low stakes cash game (25/50c $100 max) all night if the game is good.

If I am going out for the night, I plan to be out most of the night. I don’t want to get ready, drive to a game and bust less than an hour later and head back home already. Adding a rebuy option if players bust in the first 3 or 4 levels greatly reduces that from happening. It also helps to juice the prize pool some.
 
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legonick

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He said no. You just didn't recognize it as such...
What are your thoughts on why he said no? I know this would be purely speculation, but this is a guy who drives a long distance to play in a bar league with hyper tournaments. My place is roughly 7 to 10 minutes further of a drive. It's low stakes, but at least gives him a chance to win money, which he'd likely do as he's a solid player. He gets access to free food and drinks. My setup is easily better - the bar league tables are truly sad. My chips are junk, the bar league chips are better but not great, and tables are far more important. Also I do want to upgrade my chips eventually. The structure is MUCH better in a longer targeted tournament with no blind doubling, which is also something that would greatly favor his play style. I'm trying to get some of the other bar league players to join as well, so he'd likely know many friendly faces, including mine. No skin off my back, just trying to understand things better so I can keep growing the game.
 
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SteveEH

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I recommend cash too as, like others have said, if I'm committing to a poker night I don't want want the low probability of my KK running up against AA the first hand of the night and busting.

Yes you could add rebuys, but I'm still a fan of cash.

If you know your players, you can design stakes around an average win/loss per night and X number of buy ins. You can also allow for a range in buy ins to please the noobs, gamblers, and educated players.

I also recommend focusing on the social aspect of the game too - give players a reason, other than poker, to show up.

My game is mostly friends, neighbors and coworkers who don't play poker or haven't played for years/never studied the game. Since the post COVID lockdown I've always had a full table. I believe its success is due to the social aspect and setting the win/loss expectations.
 

upNdown

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Hey, if you’re close to the border, hit me up. I personally don’t mind driving an hour for a $20 tournament - my comments were directed toward how I think most people feel.

And as long as we’re tossing out opinions, I don’t understand all these other distractions that people are suggesting. I have friends and we do social events like sporting events and food things, but not on a poker night. I have zero interest in a poker night that involves something else. If you have a big game on, that’s distracting people from their action. I don’t want to waste an hour on a potluck dinner or whatever - I have food at home.

I’ve seen this stuff discussed for years, here, and I don’t know if these people are a vocal minority or if I’m just a poop. But for what it’s worth, I’ve never been to a home game that did any of that stuff. Maybe it’s a regional thing, outside my region. I don’t know. But when I go to play cards, that’s all I’m interested in.
 

MrCatPants

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Hey, if you’re close to the border, hit me up. I personally don’t mind driving an hour for a $20 tournament - my comments were directed toward how I think most people feel.

And as long as we’re tossing out opinions, I don’t understand all these other distractions that people are suggesting. I have friends and we do social events like sporting events and food things, but not on a poker night. I have zero interest in a poker night that involves something else. If you have a big game on, that’s distracting people from their action. I don’t want to waste an hour on a potluck dinner or whatever - I have food at home.

I’ve seen this stuff discussed for years, here, and I don’t know if these people are a vocal minority or if I’m just a poop. But for what it’s worth, I’ve never been to a home game that did any of that stuff. Maybe it’s a regional thing, outside my region. I don’t know. But when I go to play cards, that’s all I’m interested in.
For me it's the wants of the player base.

Mine are all competent players so I'll only occasionally do some 'outside' things, but even then it's contained (e.g. last game I fired up my Ooni oven and did Neapolitan pizzas and craft beers on the patio - but BEFORE the game. You sound like you'd be in this category.

But I've played in games that are pure casual, and those that thrive seem to always have potlucks/other events they are based around/etc. Games where poker alone doesn't carry the gatherings for the long term.
 

LotsOfChips

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What are your thoughts on why he said no?
Obviously I can't be 100% certain, and maybe at some point in the future you may get a yes from him. But right now it is a no (IMO). I think it is a matter of reading the enthusiasm level and the verbal responses as you described. Many people don't want to "offend" someone by giving a negative answer, so they will show indifference or provide an excuse why they can't. Your prospective player did both.

What's the reason for the no (or "not no", but maybe, although probably not because <insert reason or excuse here> )? I can't say for sure, but I can speculate. Maybe he isn't comfortable with people he doesn't know. Maybe he has had bad experiences at other home games for any of a dozen reasons. Maybe he really is tired on Fridays and just wants to veg out in front of the TV.

Maybe next time you see him, you could start up a friendly conversation with him. Buy him a beer, that way he is sort of obligated to spend at least a few minutes with you talking and drinking. Become his friend. Get him to talk about his poker experiences, and what he likes or doesn't like about home games. On later conversations (don't press him on the first attempt) let him know more about your game, and how it doesn't have things that he mentioned he dislikes, and has things that he does. Mention the free hot dogs on the hot dog roller (you DO have a hot dog roller, don't you?). Maybe he will eventually change from a "not no" to a yes...
 

TheJack

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Play limit cash game. Its hard to introduce new games for casual gruop of players, but if you do that, they will love it.
 

CrazyEddie

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What are your thoughts on why he said no? I know this would be purely speculation, but this is a guy who drives a long distance to play in a bar league with hyper tournaments. My place is roughly 7 to 10 minutes further of a drive. It's low stakes, but at least gives him a chance to win money, which he'd likely do as he's a solid player. He gets access to free food and drinks. My setup is easily better - the bar league tables are truly sad. My chips are junk, the bar league chips are better but not great, and tables are far more important. Also I do want to upgrade my chips eventually. The structure is MUCH better in a longer targeted tournament with no blind doubling, which is also something that would greatly favor his play style. I'm trying to get some of the other bar league players to join as well, so he'd likely know many friendly faces, including mine. No skin off my back, just trying to understand things better so I can keep growing the game.
Frankly, going to some stranger's house to play poker is weird.

We all know that that's how you find good games, and if you stick with a good game you'll be playing with friends instead of strangers. Your game sounds great; I'd drop by in a heartbeat if I ever found myself in New Hampshire. I'm sure anyone who showed up would have a fun time at your place. But even so - it's weird.

Going to a bar to play poker is normal. This guy wants to be normal.
 

CrazyEddie

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setting the win/loss expectations
I think this is important. Don't tell people the stakes, tell them how much the buy-in is. Set a buy-in. Even if it's a cash game where people can in theory buy in for whatever they like, set an actual formal buy-in, and then tell people that they should plan on winning or losing two or three buy-ins, max. That'll make them feel comfortable about playing in the game without losing more than they're ready to spend on a night of entertainment. Make sure you say "winning or losing" to help them get excited at the prospect of maybe coming home a winner, even if it's just ten dollars.
 

grebe

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First off, your common theme in all your posts about your game is how offended you get if somebody doesn't show. I would start here with your reaction to "the worst offense" as you have called it in the past. Until somebody takes an upper decker in your house, let's dial that back a bit.

Also, 8 people is PLENTY to run a game. If #9 doesn't show up, you still have a tournament. Down to 6 players, I say no problem.

I am on the cash is better side of the fence as well. I would much rather have 6 players for 5 hours than 9 players for an hour....then whittle it down and people pack it in for the night.
 

legonick

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First off, your common theme in all your posts about your game is how offended you get if somebody doesn't show. I would start here with your reaction to "the worst offense" as you have called it in the past. Until somebody takes an upper decker in your house, let's dial that back a bit.

Also, 8 people is PLENTY to run a game. If #9 doesn't show up, you still have a tournament. Down to 6 players, I say no problem.

I am on the cash is better side of the fence as well. I would much rather have 6 players for 5 hours than 9 players for an hour....then whittle it down and people pack it in for the night.

I do get offended, but I'm working on that. At this point I'm not really personally offended so much as offended "for the game". As in, the last time this happened, I actually had 2 people who showed interest in playing. 1 guy actually RSVPed "yes" because he thought someone wasn't going to make it due to a miscommunication, so he was going to take his spot. I had to tell him, sorry, the game's actually full! Then the one guy ghosts until I call him at start time and he drops the bad news. So due to that one jackass we ran down a man when we could have run full. Unfortunate but what can I do? I feel like the steps I'm taking should mitigate that in the future as best as it can. Oh well, was a great night.

Thankfully, no upper deckers, ROFL. I had to urban dictionary that one.
 

Eriks

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+1 for cash. Or maybe do turbo like sit n goes that ends in an hour. Adding a forced equity chop when down to heads-up is a way to speed things up even further.
 

Poker Zombie

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I should run more stat.s to see about a cooler/donkey count, how many are busted before the first break, at 1:00 mark. I think that number is excessively small, like 0-1 for most tournaments. And the ones I recall are not coolers, as in KK VS AA or set over set, but more like weak 2-pair VS straight...so kind of just bad or drunken plays that didn't work out, LOL.
I have years of stats that I would be happy to share, same with @TexRex

So let me be the first to say here, that tournaments are great. They tend to be geared more toward the casual player, as a moderate-skilled player can see big wins, which is much tougher for them in a cash game where they will see minor (though fairly consistent) gains.

I can also say that in entering my 13th year of record keeping, that early knockouts are rare, but they can happen. That is why we allow a single rebuy. We have players that drive over an hour to get to my semi-rural house. I'm not sending them home on a single bad beat or cooler. However a single rebuy prevents players from continual blind-shoving because $20 is chump-change for them.

We also do a pot-luck. The dinner starts 1.5 hours before the tournament. So if you are knocked-out twice you got 2.5 hours of fun and camaraderie - and that's 2 bad beats / coolers in just an hour, and that has happened once in 13 years.

So to help with tournament attendance, I would suggest bringing couples in to the group. There is nothing better to do on a Friday night than a date night with the wife. Move your "poker game" up the social event calendar by making is a couples night. Sure, this brings more "3's" to the group, but couples that ride home together talking about the game turns the "3's" into "4's". Many of my players never played a single hand of poker before sitting at my table. They have since played at casinos, because I created a safe, friendly environment that follows casino rules.

Today our game (which this year moved from $20 to $30), has all four of your player types. I know I would lose the 1's if I pitched Nickle-dime cash all night, but the prospect of a big payoff keeps the pros coming back. It wasn't always that way though. You have to build the game. Be ready to add a second table. Never turn people away. Invite as many people as you can, then eliminate the flakes once you see that their lack of dedication is more hinderance than it is worth.
 

legonick

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I have years of stats that I would be happy to share, same with @TexRex

So let me be the first to say here, that tournaments are great. They tend to be geared more toward the casual player, as a moderate-skilled player can see big wins, which is much tougher for them in a cash game where they will see minor (though fairly consistent) gains.

I can also say that in entering my 13th year of record keeping, that early knockouts are rare, but they can happen. That is why we allow a single rebuy. We have players that drive over an hour to get to my semi-rural house. I'm not sending them home on a single bad beat or cooler. However a single rebuy prevents players from continual blind-shoving because $20 is chump-change for them.

We also do a pot-luck. The dinner starts 1.5 hours before the tournament. So if you are knocked-out twice you got 2.5 hours of fun and camaraderie - and that's 2 bad beats / coolers in just an hour, and that has happened once in 13 years.

So to help with tournament attendance, I would suggest bringing couples in to the group. There is nothing better to do on a Friday night than a date night with the wife. Move your "poker game" up the social event calendar by making is a couples night. Sure, this brings more "3's" to the group, but couples that ride home together talking about the game turns the "3's" into "4's". Many of my players never played a single hand of poker before sitting at my table. They have since played at casinos, because I created a safe, friendly environment that follows casino rules.

Today our game (which this year moved from $20 to $30), has all four of your player types. I know I would lose the 1's if I pitched Nickle-dime cash all night, but the prospect of a big payoff keeps the pros coming back. It wasn't always that way though. You have to build the game. Be ready to add a second table. Never turn people away. Invite as many people as you can, then eliminate the flakes once you see that their lack of dedication is more hinderance than it is worth.
Any balking at the jump to $30?

Have you tried a pre-buy? Also, do you have an add-on option? For some reason it feels like a re-buy should be accompanied by an add-on, but once you have that add-on people start thinking of that as part of the buy-in, and maybe that'd drive some people off? Or is just a single, straight re-buy option maybe the best way to go? How long is your tournament, and when does the re-buy option cut off? What if you aren't completely busted...can you surrender chips for the re-buy?
 

upNdown

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I have mixed thoughts on add-ons, but they’re mostly negative. To me, the entire point of a tournament is to put everybody in an equal position and let them fight it out. Giving people the option of adding on for more money ruins that. I really think it’s just a gimmick-scam for casinos to get more money out of its’ suckers.
That said, I’ve had long term success playing in multiple add-on tournaments without adding on - if almost everybody has paid 3x as much as I have, my ROI is significant when I cash. That’s the only positive I see with add-ons. But I’m not a fan of them for home games.
 

legonick

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I have mixed thoughts on add-ons, but they’re mostly negative. To me, the entire point of a tournament is to put everybody in an equal position and let them fight it out. Giving people the option of adding on for more money ruins that. I really think it’s just a gimmick-scam for casinos to get more money out of its’ suckers.
That said, I’ve had long term success playing in multiple add-on tournaments without adding on - if almost everybody has paid 3x as much as I have, my ROI is significant when I cash. That’s the only positive I see with add-ons. But I’m not a fan of them for home games.
Where's that leave you with re-buys though? A re-buy is kind of like an add-on in that it allows you to play with more chips than your starting stack, allowing you to put it in with spots that you might otherwise fold, knowing you have another bullet to go. That's why it seems like add-ons would balance re-buys somehow. Also, add-ons help the "what to do when short" situation, as you might tighten up and take advantage of an add-on VS punting it off to get to the re-buy. Even a surrender re-buy, wouldn't you be better off seeing if you could luckbox double-up, maybe even a few times, before surrendering chips?
 

upNdown

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Where's that leave you with re-buys though? A re-buy is kind of like an add-on in that it allows you to play with more chips than your starting stack, allowing you to put it in with spots that you might otherwise fold, knowing you have another bullet to go. That's why it seems like add-ons would balance re-buys somehow. Also, add-ons help the "what to do when short" situation, as you might tighten up and take advantage of an add-on VS punting it off to get to the re-buy. Even a surrender re-buy, wouldn't you be better off seeing if you could luckbox double-up, maybe even a few times, before surrendering chips?
I loath rebuys in casinos. In my experience, the game is completely different until the rebuy period ends. It turns people in calling stations early on, and mad shovers in the last level before the period ends. I find it difficult to play “normal” poker during a rebuy period, and often times once the rebuy period is over, the stacks aren’t deep enough to play as I’d like to.
But life isn’t perfect - you learn to adjust.
That said, I appreciate everything @Poker Zombie has to say about it for home games. And the few times I’ve hosted tournaments, I’ve had rebuys for the same reasons.
 

ratbastard

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We've had a neighborhood game going for about two years now, and we started out very small, with 4-5 "enthusiast" type players. We would all cross our fingers that we could get at least four people together and actually have a game. Today, the game is a bit bigger: we have 21 people on our GroupMe group (who receive invitations to games every two weeks). We usually get a solid group of 9-12. Our group is a lot like yours in that most players are fairly casual, but we do have the core cadre of enthusiasts who are just happy to have a game to play at all. Our closest cardroom is in Blackhawk, CO, about 90 minutes away, and none of us really have the time to get up there very often.

We have played mostly tournaments with some cash games. I have found that the cash games feel much more adversarial than the tournaments, because you're literally "taking each others money" whereas the tournament has more of a "game night" vibe, and even if players lose they aren't too upset.

We almost always have some sort of side-bet to go with the tournaments (buy in is $10, unlimited rebuys for 2 hours; you can rebuy and add on at the break). We always offer an optional $5 bounty chip, which everyone usually buys. We've also done bomb pots on level increases (until the first break), pineapple hands, and some other wonky stuff just to keep it interesting. The goal is usually to keep the integrity of the tournament intact, such that if you didn't care at all about any of the side games, you would still be able to play a well-run tournament like you might find in a casino or card room. This week, I'm going to introduce a new variation on the bounty chips: if you buy one, you draw yours from an opaque bag, where a few of the bounty chips are worth $10, and one is worth $25 (the money to pay for these will come out of the tournament prize pool, and anyone who buys a bounty chip will still only pay $5 for it).

My point is, you can do a lot for the game to keep it interesting for the "pro" type players who may otherwise not see a reason to come out. I think the newer or more casual players are usually just as excited about the side bets as well, because they aren't necessarily paying as much attention to how they're playing and how that affects their outcome. They just want to have fun.

The last thing I would offer is from @Chris Manzoni, who has frequently said on his excellent YouTube videos that home games are about friendship and fellowship. Nobody is there to win money for rent or gamble with money they don't have. So, keep the stakes low ("cheeseburger stakes") and remember you're there to see your friends and have a good time playing cards. Leave the serious gambling for the card rooms or Vegas.
 
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