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

Poker Zombie

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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?
We had one tournament that allowed add-ons. However, it was a less-than-impressive tournament. Starting stacks had to start out shorter than normal, otherwise the add-on would either push the tournament way to late into the night, or it would be such a small amount that the add-on would be for too few big blinds.

Our tournaments usually last 4.5 - 4.75 hours (including breaks). The rebuy period ends after the 2nd hour, and players may take the rebuy option on the break. You do not need to be felted, but must surrender the chips you still had in play. Implementing this option ended the "2 minutes left, I must jam with any two cards" syndrome. There are still some that will pick spots to double up or rebuy when short-stacked, but now you have the option to pick a spot with a short stack, instead of, what is essentially a chip dump. I believe it is better to keep chips out of my opponents hand than to shove after a 3-bet when you are holding a :4s::7d: or similar. Your strategy may vary.

Our rebuys give the player 10% more chips than the initial starting stack, to encourage a rebuy when a player is short. Although we use different blind structures based on different chip sets, a player refreshing their stack on break would usually have about 18 Big Blinds when play restarts.
 

RainmanTrail

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There are poker friends and there are non poker friends who occasionally play poker. It sounds like you are trying to mix the two of these together to build a game. That doesn't really work though. Real poker players generally don't want to play in a $20 STT, especially when the other players aren't poker players. And the non poker players don't want to sit in a cash game where they just get eaten alive by poker players. My advice is to not try to mix the two groups. Figure out which group you have and which type of game you want to build and go from there.

Also, stop crying about people not showing up. It happens in every home game across the country. You should expect that some people will cancel or have something else that comes up. Your game is not the most important thing going on in all of their lives. Just let it go.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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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...."
Sorry, I'm getting in late here. I suppose this will be addressed later in the thread, but how is a cash game "unlimited losses?" You only take the money to the game that you are willing to lose, just like a tournament. If it's a $20 buy-in and my limit is $40, after I lose $40, I'm done. Same as a $20 tournament with one re-buy or a $40 freezeout. And you actually have LESS of a guarantee of a night of fun in a freezeout tournament than you do in a cash game. I played a $50 freezeout tournament at my country club a couple years ago. Third hand I get pocket Kings. Another guy pushes all in, so yeah, I've got to call. He had a suited A-K and of course hit his flush, so I'm done. I had barely been there for 15 minutes... That's the definition of no fun.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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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.
I agree that you need to lose your focus on having exactly 10 people and being offended when someone doesn't show. One solution is don't say no to anybody who RSVPs yes just because you think you might be full. Let 11, or even 12 people RSVP. First 10 to show up get a spot. Or even better, I don't know what your space is like, but get a cheap 6 foot folding table, a decent rubber poker mat, and when you have more than 10, turn it into a two table tournament! When it comes to tournament play, pretty much EVERYONE agrees that the more players, the better.
 

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I generally prefer cash games simply because people can come and go as they want and there's not too much risk of going busto (unless you lose more buy-ins than you want to). I used to have a poker group where we had a standing STT that started at a known time. If you made it you could play and if you didn't you'd have to wait for enough people to bust to start up a cash game. You could also call in and we'd blind you off. It was all micro stakes with a $10 buy in and usually $0.05/$0.10 cash games. That worked pretty well but we also had 8-20 people every week so there wasn't really a need to RSVP or anything.
Once in a while we would run a longer deeper stacked tourney that started on Sat morning. I managed to bust in the first level once running KK into AA preflop against one of the nuttier players who would have happily shoved JJ+, AQ+ there. Oh well. Then found a bottle of jack and started up a cash game with another player who busted early. Won my buy in back and had an effing blast with all the other early bustos.

edit, I say STT, but if we had more than 9 players, we'd split it into 2 tables and the bigger longer tourneys were usually 3 tables.
 
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TX_Golf_N_Poker

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I generally prefer cash games simply because people can come and go as they want and there's not too much risk of going busto (unless you lose more buy-ins than you want to). I used to have a poker group where we had a standing STT that started at a known time. If you made it you could play and if you didn't you'd have to wait for enough people to bust to start up a cash game. You could also call in and we'd blind you off. It was all micro stakes with a $10 buy in and usually $0.05/$0.10 cash games. That worked pretty well but we also had 8-20 people every week so there wasn't really a need to RSVP or anything.
Once in a while we would run a longer deeper stacked tourney that started on Sat morning. I managed to bust in the first level once running KK into AA preflop against one of the nuttier players who would have happily shoved JJ+, AQ+ there. Oh well. Then found a bottle of jack and started up a cash game with another player who busted early. Won my buy in back and had an effing blast with all the other early bustos.

edit, I say STT, but if we had more than 9 players, we'd split it into 2 tables and the bigger longer tourneys were usually 3 tables.
This sounds like heaven to me! Why aren't there people like you and games like this within 15-20 minutes of where I live!!!
 

Dude

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This sounds like heaven to me! Why aren't there people like you and games like this within 15-20 minutes of where I live!!!
Sadly, this was like 10-15 years ago. I had a group of friends who all got into poker and so much of our weekly socializing was around poker. We haven't played in a long time and I really only keep in touch with a few of them anymore.
 

TomC727

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I deal with this exact same scenario every time I host a game. walking the tight rope between the poker players and non poker players and the fine line of tournament and cash game vs what tournament buy in will get the most players.

My conclusion from about 8 events. Hands down, cash. Anyone attending can sit down with $20 and play. For the non poker players, they lose the $20 and they are done. For the players, they buy in with more.

Tournaments take a lot of time and if you bust out early, that’s it.

A cash game with a set limit works best. This is from experience.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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I think the issue with a lot of casual poker players switching from tournament to cash is they don't know what they don't know. For many less serious players, the only exposure they may have to poker is the WSOP, so they may assume that a tournament that plays down to just one winner holding all the chips is the way no-limit hold'em poker is supposed to be played. It may just take a little gentle convincing to get these players to realize they can have just as much, and maybe even more fun playing in a cash game. You just have to play up the advantages. Come and go as you please. We don't have to wait for Joe who's always late before we can start. The player can determine how much they want to risk. I always have a range, albeit a fairly tight one, for cash buy-ins. Usually $10-30 for my micro stakes .05/.10 games and raised accordingly for higher stakes. And for the wilder players, one huge advantage is unlimited rebuys. So they certainly don't have to go home if they bust out in the first 15 minutes. To me, cash just lends itself so much better to home games than tournaments which have to be strictly scheduled and there is so much to keep track of by the host. It's hard for me to even play and have fun myself when I'm running a tournament.
 

Jake14mw

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Regarding Cash vs. Tournaments - I really look at them as completely different things, attractive to different people. A tournament is a game. You all get together and you play a game, and there is a winner at the end. The money is really more of a side issue. To me, this type of event is more attractive to regular folks who are not gamblers. The whole vibe is more friendly and casual. On the other hand, a cash game is all about the money. Much more attractive to gambler personalities and more serious poker players, as over the night, there is less luck involved, and in most cases the better players will be ahead at the end of the night.

I think it is very hard to have a single game that satisfies all of the different types of players that people get. Try to cater to the type of people that make your poker nights more enjoyable. Having said that, I know it's hard. Most of us are always trying to keep all our current players as it's difficult to keep your game going/growing.
 

upNdown

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A tournament is a game. You all get together and you play a game, and there is a winner at the end. The money is really more of a side issue. To me, this type of event is more attractive to regular folks who are not gamblers. The whole vibe is more friendly and casual.
I find this “whole vibe is more friendly and casual” to be 100% true in casinos. People have fun at tournament tables; people are at cash tables for business.
I’m not sure how well this translates to home games - I’ve never been in a home game of any kind, that wasn’t fun and casual - who would want that.
 

ekricket

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Another guy pushes all in, so yeah, I've got to call. He had a suited A-K and of course hit his flush, so I'm done. I had barely been there for 15 minutes... That's the definition of no fun.
If you are there for fun, why do you have to call?
If you win you are just ruining the others guys night of fun. If you lose you ruin your night of fun.
If you are there for fun, then why do you play like this?
Maybe you aren’t there for fun. It sounds like you are there for something else. Maybe you aren’t playing poker for fun, maybe it’s something else.

If this was a cash game and you lost in that scenario would you be having fun?
 

Poker Zombie

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I think the issue with a lot of casual poker players switching from tournament to cash is they don't know what they don't know. For many less serious players, the only exposure they may have to poker is the WSOP, so they may assume that a tournament that plays down to just one winner holding all the chips is the way no-limit hold'em poker is supposed to be played. It may just take a little gentle convincing to get these players to realize they can have just as much, and maybe even more fun playing in a cash game. You just have to play up the advantages. Come and go as you please. We don't have to wait for Joe who's always late before we can start. The player can determine how much they want to risk. I always have a range, albeit a fairly tight one, for cash buy-ins. Usually $10-30 for my micro stakes .05/.10 games and raised accordingly for higher stakes. And for the wilder players, one huge advantage is unlimited rebuys. So they certainly don't have to go home if they bust out in the first 15 minutes. To me, cash just lends itself so much better to home games than tournaments which have to be strictly scheduled and there is so much to keep track of by the host. It's hard for me to even play and have fun myself when I'm running a tournament.
I disagree on this. As a casual tournament player, I don't have to guess why I prefer tournaments over cash, I know.

Cash is unlimited. Tournaments are limited. I don't care if you have $20 in expendable income or $2,000. In a tournament, you are on equal footing - unless you allow unlimited rebuys, but most casual players don't like unlimited rebuys, unless they are gamblers, of the amount of all the likely rebuys are still within their acceptable losses for the night.
Come and go as you please.
Things like "come and go as you please" - Isn't that a silly concept? It's like saying "I'm not going to this concert" or "I won't go to the movies" because they have a predetermined start and end time. Would you not take a flight because you can't "come and go as you please"?

We don't have to wait for Joe who's always late before we can start.
You never have to wait for Joe. Joe can get his ass in gear, or...
  • Not be allowed to play. Is Joe a petulant child, who wants everybody to operate on his time? The host makes decisions for the group - not Joe.
  • Offer an early arrival bonus. For us, it's free food. Many other games offer extra chips. If Joe wants to arrive late, that's his choice.
  • Offer late buy-ins. I have one player that opened her own business. Since then, if she has a late client, she arrives to the game late. She lets us know, and I get her stacks ready. Once she arrives, she can sit down and play. If she's more than an hour late (the end of our late buy-in period), she Venmo's us her buy-in, and her stack goes live, just as if she were there and folding.
Hell, I was taking a flight that could be delayed (as has been quite frequent). It would have meant missing the start of my own game. I had instructions for where I had a spare house key so they could let themselves in (I trust my players), and at 7 they would start the game. We wait for nobody - including the host.

The player can determine how much they want to risk.
A player that is willing to risk more is at a substantial advantage over a player that cant risk to lose much. You know you are on a coin flip? Tournaments reward stack protection, Cash games penalize it. Sure, you cant lose more than you are willing to risk, but in a game of coin flips where I have unlimited funds, and you have only what you are willing to risk, I will win every, single time.

Mind you, I prefer tournaments but roughly 10% of the games I host are cash games. I like cash games, but prefer tournaments. Other people may disagree, and that's fine. I prefer Hold'em, others prefer Double-Board 5-card Omaha.

...but I wouldn't recruit new, casual players and lead out with cash Double-Board 5-card Omaha. There's a reason tournament hold'em became the spear-tip of the poker boom. It's easy to grasp, and it plays like a game to conclusion. It's geared toward the player that has no interest in reading a book on playing poker, and everyone has the same economic chance to win.
 

ekricket

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It's hard for me to even play and have fun myself when I'm running a tournament.
Sounds like you just don’t like hosting. Some people don’t. Some people hate to have guests over because it means you have to take care of your guests, you know, pay attention to someone else and what they are dealing with.

“I don’t need anything from visitors except their money” is how I interpret this.
It looks like it’s really no fun for you if you can’t take their money anymore.
 

upNdown

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Tournaments reward stack protection, Cash games penalize it.
09519423-1BB5-4DD3-B2D9-79A2E7A9C57E.gif
 

upNdown

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Sounds like you just don’t like hosting. Some people don’t. Some people hate to have guests over because it means you have to take care of your guests, you know, pay attention to someone else and what they are dealing with.

“I don’t need anything from visitors except their money” is how I interpret this.
It looks like it’s really no fun for you if you can’t take their money anymore.
I dunno man. Ever try to color up two different denoms at once, when you’re all drunk?
 

Poker Zombie

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I dunno man. Ever try to color up two different denoms at once, when you’re all drunk?
Once... never again. I don't care if we keep useless denoms on the table longer than necessary, I'm not racing T100s and T500s off at the same time ever again.
 

MrCatPants

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I dunno man. Ever try to color up two different denoms at once, when you’re all drunk?
Too close to home.

Me: (shows the chips being colored up for player X) Ok, 1k, 2k, 3k, 4k. Four thousand? (Player X nods, I give the 4000, rack up the 100s and 500s move on to player Y)
Player X: Wait, you only gave me 4000! I had 5000!
Me: We just counted them out. I counted 4 thousand, you confirmed. And they are back in the rack so there's no way to further confirm. It was correct.
Player X: You just stole 1k from me!
Player Y: I only saw 3000. I think you got extra.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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Sounds like you just don’t like hosting. Some people don’t. Some people hate to have guests over because it means you have to take care of your guests, you know, pay attention to someone else and what they are dealing with.

“I don’t need anything from visitors except their money” is how I interpret this.
It looks like it’s really no fun for you if you can’t take their money anymore.
That's jumping to some fairly extreme conclusions based on very little information. Is there some reason you've chosen to extract and highlight the least relevant statement from my post where I'm offering insight to the OP in case he should want to switch his game from tournament to cash? This thread is about his game, not mine.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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Regarding Cash vs. Tournaments - I really look at them as completely different things, attractive to different people. A tournament is a game. You all get together and you play a game, and there is a winner at the end. The money is really more of a side issue. To me, this type of event is more attractive to regular folks who are not gamblers. The whole vibe is more friendly and casual. On the other hand, a cash game is all about the money. Much more attractive to gambler personalities and more serious poker players, as over the night, there is less luck involved, and in most cases the better players will be ahead at the end of the night.

I think it is very hard to have a single game that satisfies all of the different types of players that people get. Try to cater to the type of people that make your poker nights more enjoyable. Having said that, I know it's hard. Most of us are always trying to keep all our current players as it's difficult to keep your game going/growing.
Excellent counterpoint to the cash is better for a home game argument.
 

MrCatPants

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One more thing to add - if you go the 'different games for different players' route eventually, my experience is your poker degens will eventually bleed into your more casual game and try to change it - you have to keep them away from it.

I've got one guy in particular who will come to my tournaments and keep saying "everyone just go all in, we all just want to play cash anyway" and will come to my NLHE nights and consistently ask to play plo8. Maniacs will raise every hand pre to get to the stakes they want as well.
 

newrackcity

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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.
*Following - I am in an eerily similar situation down here.
 

newrackcity

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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.
sending PM
 

ekricket

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One aspect that has been touched on several times is “fun”. Half our players are there for “fun” and “to play” and they are not there to fold and be bored.
They know that losing is a big part of how they play just “to have fun”. They don’t care about winning or losing, they are there to “play a game with an evening of friends”.
Folding is not fun to them. Playing a hand to the end - win or lose - is fun for them.

So yes, if you measure fun in dollars and cents any type of poker is not going to be fun for you 80% of the time. If money is your measure there are a couple of investing discussions on this site that might offer you more “fun” than a poker game with poor friends who are not poker pros.

Sorry about the partial derail, these discussions usually evolve to a point where you are expected to treat your events like every one is a WSOP main event and all your player are cash bots. When in reality it’s a group of friends having fun participating in a common activity.

I try to remember this when I’m frustrated in a game

just because YOU are not having fun does not mean the rest of the group isn’t
 

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Things like "come and go as you please" - Isn't that a silly concept? It's like saying "I'm not going to this concert" or "I won't go to the movies" because they have a predetermined start and end time. Would you not take a flight because you can't "come and go as you please"?

Compare "Everybody come over to my place, we'll hang out and chat" with "Everybody come over to my place, we'll watch a movie".

No need to closely coordinate schedules for the first - maybe some can come early, some can stay late, some can only stay for an hour or two, whatever, show up when you can and stay as long as you like. But for the second - either everyone shows up at about the same time or some people miss part of the movie.

Playing a cash game is like hanging out.
 

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...but I wouldn't recruit new, casual players and lead out with cash Double-Board 5-card Omaha. There's a reason tournament hold'em became the spear-tip of the poker boom. It's easy to grasp, and it plays like a game to conclusion. It's geared toward the player that has no interest in reading a book on playing poker, and everyone has the same economic chance to win.
Once upon a time home games were draw and stud, dealer's choice, played around a kitchen table, sometimes with crazy rules like wild cards and whatever. And they were totally geared towards players who had no interest in reading books.

I think even today you could attract a lot of players with a hold'em tournament, just like they see on TV...

... OR you could attract them with cash games, mixed games, dealer's choice, stud, draw, and omaha - because it's fun. And it's approachable and novice-friendly - the swings in Omaha and circus games might be big, but that just means you should scale the stakes down, because big swings are fun as long as they're within your budget because it lets even the novices win big sometimes. It's approachable because you don't have to know all the latest theory, because for the most part there isn't any. And the variety keeps people's interest. The only hurdle is getting people over their fixation with hold'em because that's what they see on TV.

Set your buy-in rules so that there's a fixed max buy-in instead of using match-the-stack and the economic advantages of the well-heeled players will be minimized; losing players might go through a few buy-ins in one night, similar to typical tournaments.

I mean, I get what you're saying, and you're right. But I think a cash game can fill the same role if done a certain way.
 
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