Poker league recruiting question (1 Viewer)

Marhault

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So I decided this year after Covid took a major dump on our league season last year to try some incentives to get people to bring new players. So I added a 10% bonus to your starting stack if you bought in up to 24 hours before the tourney (an effort to get a more accurate head count) and another 10% bonus if you bring a new player who's never participated in the league before for both players. I didn't place a limit on it so in theory you could bring 10 new players and double your starting stack. I've had a few say they're trying to bring some new players but it's been relatively flat. Although I've had double the commitments already for our first league game than I had last year so that is very encouraging.

So do you guys have any incentives to bring in new players? If so I'd love to hear them or any other incentives you have for tournaments I'm always looking for juicy bait to put butts in the seats!

Or if any of you live in or around southern Illinois you're more than welcome to come play just shoot me a PM.
 

Marhault

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Free beer lol jk (but really)

Generally I've seen success with word of mouth, and you can also try something like a local fire hall, vfw, elk lodge etc depending on what your state laws are per home games
I've done free beer...but man does that get expensive. I provided food and drinks the first few league games last year and lost a ton of money. I don't mind losing a little money because I have a good time and enjoy hosting. Our buy ins for league games are so low that it's not viable to take a rake to pay for that stuff and to pay for the end of season tourney. That is definitely an option though ;)
 
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I just played in a bar/beer-league yesterday to try it out. They were using all dice chips. Tri-folding poker tables, and bar seats. No money involved and it was an absolute blast. Crazy pineapple tourney and "win-the-button"(?) Hold'em tourney [wild card night]

The guy running it seemed to be the type of fella who used to run big home games.

It's an actual league setup as well. The winner by the end of the season with most points get a free paid tournament in AC. Not sure of all the logistics but seems like a great way if you're looking to host for the fun of it.

So like @FordPickup92 said, but small pubs ya know

EDIT: I would assume when they stake you for the real tournament, and you win, they take percentage and whatnot. That's like their only gamble after buying the tables and the $80 in dice chips
 

Marhault

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I just played in a bar/beer-league yesterday to try it out. They were using all dice chips. Tri-folding poker tables, and bar seats. No money involved and it was an absolute blast. Crazy pineapple tourney and "win-the-button"(?) Hold'em tourney [wild card night]

The guy running it seemed to be the type of fella who used to run big home games.

It's an actual league setup as well. The winner by the end of the season with most points get a free paid tournament in AC. Not sure of all the logistics but seems like a great way if you're looking to host for the fun of it.

So like @FordPickup92 said, but small pubs ya know

EDIT: I would assume when they stake you for the real tournament, and you win, they take percentage and whatnot. That's like their only gamble after buying the tables and the $80 in dice chips
Our league is low stakes. Most games are $25 and $50 buy ins alternating. We take 10% of buy ins for the end of year. We usually have 25+ buy ins and 40+ total rebuys and buying together. Plus add ons. So by the end of season we have a couple grand for the end of year tourney. It's more about getting everyone together than getting rich. We have a blast.
 

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I don't have great advice yet...I've been struggling to get a regular monthly 9-handed tournament going. I've had some luck with friends-of-friends, but none appear to be regulars yet. 1-and-done. Only limited experience though. 1 guy didn't return, claimed he had plans that night - maybe next time. Other guy ghosted me, but I think it's because the guy who brought him last time couldn't make it maybe?

It's amazing...honestly, I think people come, have a ton of fun, FORGET HOW MUCH FUN THEY HAD, and can't be bothered to get off their ass again, ROFL.

As @MatthewTreeTree said, maybe try recruiting from a bar league. I'm looking into one near me as a source of players as well, as my social pool is nearly depleted. :/
 

detroitdad

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So do you guys have any incentives to bring in new players?

No

Have you made it clear to your players on what type of players to bring? I removed a guy from my invite list because he used shitty judgement in bringing someone to my house. Ideally we would hope these guys would have some common sense. We know how that works out.
 

legonick

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Have you made it clear to your players on what type of players to bring? I removed a guy from my invite list because he used shitty judgement in bringing someone to my house. Ideally we would hope these guys would have some common sense. We know how that works out.
Any time for a story? I'd love to hear the juicy details on this!
 

detroitdad

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Any time for a story? I'd love to hear the juicy details on this!

Nothing to exciting. A player asked if he could bring a friend. Since it was a two table cash game I said sure.

They arrive at 7 pm which is great. We started at 6. The problem was, my players friend was already completely shit faced. He was so drunk that he needed assistance walking down the basement stairs. The next day my with thought he was on the spectrum.

I should have nixed it right then, but I didn't. For a few hours I constantly had to keep my eye on him at the other table. He was blowing through $50.00 buy ins like crazy (max buy in was 100). He was only slightly disruptive, but it was causing me extra stress. I didn't appreciate a brand new player showing up completely hammered.

On the 4th or 5th buy in the drunk gets upset with me and says that I still owe him $50 in change from the last buy in. He said it kind of aggressive with a little posturing. That doesn't work for me, plus I have a good crew there so I wasn't worried. I said nope. You fucked something up, go take a seat. He did.

I went back to my table and asked Sean why he thought it was a good idea to bring a drunk to my house. He said that he felt like it was too late once he already picked him up. At that point I let him know that I was immediately cashing him and his drunk friend out, and that they would need to leave. They did so without incident.

A week later Sean asked me if his friend could have a second chance. I said nope. Then I informed him that I would be removing him from the invite list for making such a bad decision on bringing his friend. He kind of looked stunned, but not much he could do about it.
 

legonick

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Nothing to exciting. A player asked if he could bring a friend. Since it was a two table cash game I said sure.

They arrive at 7 pm which is great. We started at 6. The problem was, my players friend was already completely shit faced. He was so drunk that he needed assistance walking down the basement stairs. The next day my with thought he was on the spectrum.

I should have nixed it right then, but I didn't. For a few hours I constantly had to keep my eye on him at the other table. He was blowing through $50.00 buy ins like crazy (max buy in was 100). He was only slightly disruptive, but it was causing me extra stress. I didn't appreciate a brand new player showing up completely hammered.

On the 4th or 5th buy in the drunk gets upset with me and says that I still owe him $50 in change from the last buy in. He said it kind of aggressive with a little posturing. That doesn't work for me, plus I have a good crew there so I wasn't worried. I said nope. You fucked something up, go take a seat. He did.

I went back to my table and asked Sean why he thought it was a good idea to bring a drunk to my house. He said that he felt like it was too late once he already picked him up. At that point I let him know that I was immediately cashing him and his drunk friend out, and that they would need to leave. They did so without incident.

A week later Sean asked me if his friend could have a second chance. I said nope. Then I informed him that I would be removing him from the invite list for making such a bad decision on bringing his friend. He kind of looked stunned, but not much he could do about it.
Seems a bit harsh to Sean, assuming he's an upstanding player in all other regards. You do you, but I could see him getting bamboozled at least a little bit. It's possible he didn't know this guy would be that drunk. Yeah he should have turned him down if he was that intoxicated when he was picking him up - frankly, I'd be hesitant to let someone that drunk in my car, LOL. But I get where he's coming from...it would be hard to turn him down once you are already there, same way you had trouble turning him down when he showed up at your place. But yeah, def. no more invites from Sean! LOL.

Had a minor grievance at my last tournament. My best regular had his brother out from the west coast and I had 2 players (a main and an alt.) nope out at the last minute. Tough one...the main had a sore throat. He's an anti-COVID-19-vaxxer but he knows I take it seriously, so he asked me if he should come still. I said, if you are willing to wear a mask all night, sure! Of course, he's also an anti-masker (LOL, I know....). So he opted out. Within 20 minutes of that, my alt. texts me to say "his legs hurt" (dafuq!?) and he can't make it. Cats I tell you.... Anyways, so I ping my best regular and he's down to bring his brother.

Anyways, like your deal, nothing much happened, but his brother got pretty drunk and busted out of the tournament early. I think from the booze he couldn't fathom that it was a freeze-out tournament. He spent the rest of the night talking over people in hands, and even intentionally confusing newer players. Calling action incorrectly. Nothing physical, but just a bit annoying. To the point of, people had to start ignoring him at the table. Just out-of-line stuff, like constant belittling of people who raised pre-flop ("but you only have 1 pair! That's nothing!"). LOL...OK bub. A few jabs are fine, but it was just pretty constant. I didn't take action, maybe I should have, but by the end of the night everyone just kind of was ignoring most of what he was saying, because it was just out-of-line nonsense, LOL. Shook his hand at the end of the night. Honestly, I'd even have him back if he wasn't going home to the west coast, because I think he'd understand that this isn't a cash game, it's a freeze-out tournament, and he'd be cool. The reason he didn't leave after busting is that his brother, my best regular, didn't leave and was his ride. The regular ended up taking the whole tournament down!
 

detroitdad

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Seems a bit harsh to Sean, assuming he's an upstanding player in all other regards

He isn't a full time regular. He had flaked a few times in the past with no shows. This was the straw that broke the camels back. I deal with stupid shit at work all the time. I play poker to have fun. When someone makes a stupid decision like bringing a drunk to my house that takes away from my fun, then you get the axe.

it would be hard to turn him down once you are already there,

I disagree. It would be easy. "Hey bud, you have never been to the hosts house. I'm not going to take you in that condition". Easy conversation. As I taught my kids, consequences for all actions.
 

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Nothing to exciting. A player asked if he could bring a friend. Since it was a two table cash game I said sure.

They arrive at 7 pm which is great. We started at 6. The problem was, my players friend was already completely shit faced. He was so drunk that he needed assistance walking down the basement stairs. The next day my with thought he was on the spectrum.

I should have nixed it right then, but I didn't. For a few hours I constantly had to keep my eye on him at the other table. He was blowing through $50.00 buy ins like crazy (max buy in was 100). He was only slightly disruptive, but it was causing me extra stress. I didn't appreciate a brand new player showing up completely hammered.

On the 4th or 5th buy in the drunk gets upset with me and says that I still owe him $50 in change from the last buy in. He said it kind of aggressive with a little posturing. That doesn't work for me, plus I have a good crew there so I wasn't worried. I said nope. You fucked something up, go take a seat. He did.

I went back to my table and asked Sean why he thought it was a good idea to bring a drunk to my house. He said that he felt like it was too late once he already picked him up. At that point I let him know that I was immediately cashing him and his drunk friend out, and that they would need to leave. They did so without incident.

A week later Sean asked me if his friend could have a second chance. I said nope. Then I informed him that I would be removing him from the invite list for making such a bad decision on bringing his friend. He kind of looked stunned, but not much he could do about it.
I had something similar. One of the two incidents I've had in 20 yrs of hosting. The other incident wasn't as cool as this one.

Guy shows up at our game drunk with two women (also drunk). I'd like to give him credit for having two women hanging on him, but #1) Don't bring non-players to a game and #2) They were hideous. They just endlessly nagged him to leave and take them to the bar. Ugh.

At the first break, they go outside and one of his best friends (huge dude) ended up body slamming the scrawny pain in the ass onto his own car hood. Never saw him again.

giphy.gif
 

legonick

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I had something similar. One of the two incidents I've had in 20 yrs of hosting. The other incident wasn't as cool as this one.

Guy shows up at our game drunk with two women (also drunk). I'd like to give him credit for having two women hanging on him, but #1) Don't bring non-players to a game and #2) They were hideous. They just endlessly nagged him to leave and take them to the bar. Ugh.

At the first break, they go outside and one of his best friends (huge dude) ended up body slamming the scrawny pain in the ass onto his own car hood. Never saw him again.

View attachment 781970
No idea what the scuffle was over huh?

Also, what's your other less-interesting story?
 

DeeVee8

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No idea what the scuffle was over huh?

Also, what's your other less-interesting story?
His friend had only played a couple of times and really liked the game. He thought his douche friend would reflect badly on him. It would have, but then the bodyslam made him a player for life. Plus, I didn't want to get slammed on my car.

The less interesting story was same douche trying to bet his wedding ring in a tournament with another guy, who "called". The other guy's wife came walking in from a shopping trip and saw the rings on the table. Hilarity did NOT ensue (until all parties had departed).

giphy.gif
 

Marhault

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No

Have you made it clear to your players on what type of players to bring? I removed a guy from my invite list because he used shitty judgement in bringing someone to my house. Ideally we would hope these guys would have some common sense. We know how that works out.
The guys we play with wouldn't bring someone like that, and if they ever did I'm very clear that it won't be tolerated. In the 15+ years of hosting cash games and tournaments I've only ever had one "incident" and it was between 2 guys over one taking the others ex wife out lol. They wrestled on a smoke break in my front yard. They both came in and tattled on themselves and finished the game. They still play to this day without incident.

I have at least 3 players that ask to play on a regular basis that I will not invite because they have a history of this stuff at other places. I'm mainly just looking for some people outside my work circle and the few regulars we've added over the years. It's mainly the "league" thing because my tourney's that aren't league regularly hit 30 or more, I think something new like the league just confuses them no matter how much I explain it.
 

Poker Zombie

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The biggest incentives we have are...
  1. You get to play poker with a friend. That should be incentive enough.
  2. Bringing a player earns you one point for the Zombie Hall of Fame each game they attend for supporting the game. One point is basically nothing (this year's inductee had 716 points), but bringing someone that turns out to be a good, solid, long-term player adds up and (with other achievements) earns you a spot on the semi-final ballot.
 

legonick

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The biggest incentives we have are...
  1. You get to play poker with a friend. That should be incentive enough.
  2. Bringing a player earns you one point for the Zombie Hall of Fame each game they attend for supporting the game. One point is basically nothing (this year's inductee had 716 points), but bringing someone that turns out to be a good, solid, long-term player adds up and (with other achievements) earns you a spot on the semi-final ballot.
Do you have a different post on the ZHoF stuff? That sounds interesting! If my game ever gets more regulars, I'd love to set up something like that!
 

DeeVee8

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The biggest incentives we have are...
  1. You get to play poker with a friend. That should be incentive enough.
  2. Bringing a player earns you one point for the Zombie Hall of Fame each game they attend for supporting the game. One point is basically nothing (this year's inductee had 716 points), but bringing someone that turns out to be a good, solid, long-term player adds up and (with other achievements) earns you a spot on the semi-final ballot.
Agreed. I think if you use gimmicks to get them to play, they'll keep expecting gimmicks. Its tough to do, but try to find those who love the game. You'll kiss a lot of frogs...
 

Poker Zombie

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Do you have a different post on the ZHoF stuff? That sounds interesting! If my game ever gets more regulars, I'd love to set up something like that!
I've mentioned it a couple times and posted pics of the chips when a player gets inducted. I have not previously discussed the entire system. Like many things I do, it is all on a spreadsheet, and reasonable complex to the point that when I push the button to refresh the numbers, the names that populate the list surprise even me!

However, if you would like to dive deeper, PM me. I just don't think it is the kind of thing the general public would be interested in reading - because it is a lot.
 

Marhault

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The biggest incentives we have are...
  1. You get to play poker with a friend. That should be incentive enough.
  2. Bringing a player earns you one point for the Zombie Hall of Fame each game they attend for supporting the game. One point is basically nothing (this year's inductee had 716 points), but bringing someone that turns out to be a good, solid, long-term player adds up and (with other achievements) earns you a spot on the semi-final ballot.
The incentives I have serve 2 purposes. The early buy in helps those of us that host get a better idea of how much food to have and how many chairs and tables to set up. It's not perfect but it works, the second incentive is to hopefully get someone who is a regular who maybe never thought of inviting his cousin or uncle who plays poker, maybe that 10% is the hook. None of the guys that come need the incentive to come themselves it's just an effort to encourage them to invite other family or friends. I'd love to have 40+ at every tourney.
 

grantc54

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I'm actually in much better shape than pre-Covid and have had most games fill up fairly fast (2 table tournaments).

I made the following changes:
1) required full vaccination (many people appreciate it as they get a break from thinking about covid all the time)
2) moved to a different venue with no smoking at the table

And the big one
3) spent covid playing online games and networking to grow the online game, spend time on voice chat to get to know people, and to find people who really want to play (players who show up to 80% of the weekly friday night games really want to play poker)

#3 was the big one, I slowly weeded out players that are really indifferent to whether or not they want to play poker. These people will have no problem dropping at the last minute because they are tired from work. Poker players who want to play will do anything and everything to make the game.

I wasted so much time and energy trying to put together a game with people who didn't really NEED to play.

I used to offer incentives for being on time, but once I found the right players it wasnt required anymore.

Demand for poker is high at the moment. I'm using it to identify all the future regulars when I can eventually go back to every 2 weeks again.
 

legonick

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I'm actually in much better shape than pre-Covid and have had most games fill up fairly fast (2 table tournaments).

I made the following changes:
1) required full vaccination (many people appreciate it as they get a break from thinking about covid all the time)
2) moved to a different venue with no smoking at the table

And the big one
3) spent covid playing online games and networking to grow the online game, spend time on voice chat to get to know people, and to find people who really want to play (players who show up to 80% of the weekly friday night games really want to play poker)

#3 was the big one, I slowly weeded out players that are really indifferent to whether or not they want to play poker. These people will have no problem dropping at the last minute because they are tired from work. Poker players who want to play will do anything and everything to make the game.

I wasted so much time and energy trying to put together a game with people who didn't really NEED to play.

I used to offer incentives for being on time, but once I found the right players it wasnt required anymore.

Demand for poker is high at the moment. I'm using it to identify all the future regulars when I can eventually go back to every 2 weeks again.
What are you doing now for frequency?

How did you find the people to play with online originally, that were close enough to join your live game?

I'm learning, like you, that the most important thing is someone who actually wants to play poker! Others who see it as only a social gathering are flakey. But those who see it as a social gathering and a fun game seem to show up much more frequently.
 

grantc54

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What are you doing now for frequency?
Currently every 3-4 weeks in an open garage. Once the kids are vaccinated (hopefully next month, they are 6 and 9) I hope to go to every 2 weeks.

How did you find the people to play with online originally, that were close enough to join your live game?

I keep a list of people who have ever played with us, and then I mentioned it during other leagues online games, and then i canvassed a few people for friends.

I'm learning, like you, that the most important thing is someone who actually wants to play poker! Others who see it as only a social gathering are flakey. But those who see it as a social gathering and a fun game seem to show up much more frequently.

Yeah, I keep a lot of these people on the list to act as filler, but a core group who is chomping at the bit to play is key.
 

Marhault

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I'm actually in much better shape than pre-Covid and have had most games fill up fairly fast (2 table tournaments).

I made the following changes:
1) required full vaccination (many people appreciate it as they get a break from thinking about covid all the time)
2) moved to a different venue with no smoking at the table

And the big one
3) spent covid playing online games and networking to grow the online game, spend time on voice chat to get to know people, and to find people who really want to play (players who show up to 80% of the weekly friday night games really want to play poker)

#3 was the big one, I slowly weeded out players that are really indifferent to whether or not they want to play poker. These people will have no problem dropping at the last minute because they are tired from work. Poker players who want to play will do anything and everything to make the game.

I wasted so much time and energy trying to put together a game with people who didn't really NEED to play.

I used to offer incentives for being on time, but once I found the right players it wasnt required anymore.

Demand for poker is high at the moment. I'm using it to identify all the future regulars when I can eventually go back to every 2 weeks again.
I think my question/issue is getting lost in all this. To be clear, I'm not having issues getting players who are enthusiastic about playing. We run 2 tables of cash every month that the seats fill up nearly instantly with a healthy wait list, so much so that I've considered running a third table but it gets very overwhelming for myself even with just 2 tables with buy ins, cash outs, change and house rulings on occasion that 3 tables wouldn't be possible without more help besides just me.
For tournaments, outside of league season we have tournaments that regularly range from 20-30+. During league season our numbers drop (although I only have one season under my belt and it was last year during Covid) so this could change but we averaged over the 8 tournaments 16 players. Not ideal imo.
So my goal is to try and encourage more of my regulars to try out league play, as well as bring in new players (fresh meat!) for our games. There is no lack of enthusiasm, we don't have struggled filling tables, it's just a desire for more in an effort to increase the competition in the league as well as pump up our payouts for the end of season free roll without increasing the buy ins.

Another incentive I've done for several years and I've added it to the league is our November tourney we do a toy drive for donations. Anyone who brings a toy to be donated to a local family/shelter gets some bonus, either a bigger starting stack or we've even done a free addon at the break. That's our most popular event and promotion.
 

grantc54

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Ah yes, I did miss the point.

BUT I still think networkig is yout best option. For me the most reliable way to get new players is to play in other leagues and meet players there. They will also have potential friends who can play (your regulars have likely already exhausted their friend lists).

Edit: And i found usig free chip incentives didnt add that many players (since many of m existing players had likely already asked their friends, family and coworkers).
 

Poker Zombie

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I think my question/issue is getting lost in all this. To be clear, I'm not having issues getting players who are enthusiastic about playing. We run 2 tables of cash every month that the seats fill up nearly instantly with a healthy wait list, so much so that I've considered running a third table but it gets very overwhelming for myself even with just 2 tables with buy ins, cash outs, change and house rulings on occasion that 3 tables wouldn't be possible without more help besides just me.
For tournaments, outside of league season we have tournaments that regularly range from 20-30+. During league season our numbers drop (although I only have one season under my belt and it was last year during Covid) so this could change but we averaged over the 8 tournaments 16 players. Not ideal imo.
So my goal is to try and encourage more of my regulars to try out league play, as well as bring in new players (fresh meat!) for our games. There is no lack of enthusiasm, we don't have struggled filling tables, it's just a desire for more in an effort to increase the competition in the league as well as pump up our payouts for the end of season free roll without increasing the buy ins.

Another incentive I've done for several years and I've added it to the league is our November tourney we do a toy drive for donations. Anyone who brings a toy to be donated to a local family/shelter gets some bonus, either a bigger starting stack or we've even done a free addon at the break. That's our most popular event and promotion.
OK, first, I wouldn't pay heed to the year of COVID. There was something else going on, and the majority of the world took it seriously. Even if your view was that it should be normal, it wasn't. This year is better, but I still would expect a smaller turnout.

Be patient. Sometimes you get shit cards. It doesn't mean you have to shove. Host a smaller game until the world returns to normal.

On a side note: I have found that when running multiple tables, each table becomes exponentially more difficult. My largest event was 4 tables, and it took 2 games to get that smoothed out, despite years of experience with 3 tables. Here are a few tips from experience...

Appoint a table captain Someone that has been around long enough that he has heard most of your rulings, and someone you can trust to make the right, unbiased call. Casinos do it all the time. They call them "dealers". Dealers make rulings that most people accept, especially when the majority of the table agrees. Players are still allowed to call the floor (you), but I find my need to make a floor ruling has dropped significantly since having authorized table captains.

Standardized rules TDA rules for tournaments or Robert's Rules of Poker for cash games. The fewer "house rules" you have, the easier it is. I used to use a number of "house rules" early on because it would be more fun. My favorite was a flip when racing off chips, with players getting one "hole" card per chip. Unfortunately, it was just confusing to everybody else. It wasn't standard, so I dropped it. Unless a custom house rule is necessary, don't use it.

Note Pad I have found that it is pretty easy to forget things. In tournaments for example, you need to remember how many players remain in the tourney, and break down tables accordingly or move players as needed. Having an index card that you can jot down notes makes things a world easier, especially if someone gets KO'ed, and people start yelling "our table is short a player" - while you are tanking on a hand. When you hear "Knockout, Table 3" you can quickly see (without having to calculate) what table is moving someone or if the clock is getting paused to break down tables. You can then get back to your in-hand decision.

You may already know these, but I never seen this kind of info posted before so I had to figure it out through trial and error.
 

Moxie Mike

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So do you guys have any incentives to bring in new players? If so I'd love to hear them or any other incentives you have for tournaments I'm always looking for juicy bait to put butts in the seats!
I don't encourage the group as a whole to recruit players since I'm very discreet about who we let into the game. But I always ask the core people in the group to be on the lookout for players who might be a good fit.

Another recruiting tactic I've used is going to local charity rooms and getting to know people. Once I get a feel for a person's demeanor, I might casually ask if they're interested in playing in a private game.

Other than that, local Facebook groups offer an opportunity to recruit. I found success contacting the owner of the group and letting them know what I was looking for. Those types of people are generally pretty well plugged into the local poker scene.
 

Mike mac

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this may not work for you and everyone may shake their heads at me .... but i moved to a new city about 2 hours away from my home town and knew absolutely no one.

i set up an ad on kijiji or craigs list (USA) and invited strangers into my house.

after 1 year i grew a pretty good list of 10 players and word of mouth took over from there. i have never had one shi#y person and if the person didnt fit the group, he/she just didnt get a second invite. ( happened once ).

this is how i grew my list to 30+ names and #s. and 5 years of amazing nights with STRANGERS lol

not one chip stolen. not one fight. :) knock on wood.
 
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