What's your Flake-Rate...?

Trihonda

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I host a single table game monthly. We play cash, and sometimes vary the format some. However, 2-3 times per year, I host a larger 20 person tourney. I try to roll out the red carpet, with themed invites, door prizes, lots of great food and drinks, and of course, a great poker setup (chips, cards, table, etc...). I get rave reviews from attendees, who say it's the best run game around, best setup, blah blah (I can't really take credit, as all my poker room and hosting skills have come from months spent on great sites like this one - Advice, chip opportunities, etc...).

My problem, is I seem to get an large amount of people who flake out, despite my best efforts to get people "locked". For instance, tonight I'm hosting my holiday hold'em tournament, and a week ago, had 20 locked, with 4 people on the wait list. I then had enough leakers in the last week, that I was down to 17 people as of this morning. Now, I've recruited, begged, harassed, and coerced my way back to 18 (maybe 19), but to have lost 7 people out of 24 seems high. Granted, there are those with legitimate reasons (death in immediate family was one), but often I get people who say, "I really should spend some time with my wife on Saturday"... Really? I can't force people to come, but when you committed to locking a seat, and I've shopped for food and beverages, and spend time pouring over the structure and setting up chips, etc... It's a bit rude IMHO to bail for a lame reason.

It seems like every major tourney I host, I'm always scrambling last minute to top off the tables and recruit. It's tiring. And I rarely get two completely full tables. For the record, I have 60+ people that are on my invite list (and these people indicate they want to be invited to my games)...


Thanks for letting me vent. I feel much better now :)
 

stocky

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I don't know how long before you require people to lock up spots but if it's more than a week you are probably getting a lot of commitment with guys hoping for the best. Btw "I need to spend more time with the family" usually means to me that the wife has threatened to remove testicles.
 

Mr Tree

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Unfortunately it's normal. I would say losing seven out of 24 isn't even unusual
 

Ronoh

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often I get people who say, "I really should spend some time with my wife on Saturday"

... Really?

It's a bit rude IMHO to bail for a lame reason.
Soooooo much this, lame bastards. Wait a tick........ I'm divorced............. :eek:;):D
 

spikeithard

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ya its really tough. hosting is like pulling teeth sometimes. 2 weeks ago I had a 5 person wait list and tonight, I could barely scratch up 8. Also I think its time of year now.

Just human nature to change like that. I have been guilty in the past. But I try not to anymore. If I say I am going I go unless work or something else quite pertinent comes up.

sometimes everyone shows to my game and some times i get about 3-4 out of 10 bail out

keep your chin up and ABR (always be recruiting)
 

krafticus

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I had 96 people on my invite list. Most confirmed that they wanted to be on the list. I usually got 32-38 confirmed, and over 50% that never RSVP. I always told my folks I'd rather a no than a non-response, but it fell on deaf ears.
 

bivey

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Flake rate always high for me. Have 100+ on list, but get 7-15 on any given night. I do ask for RSVPs but it seems to make some people flakier! Sounds like your on target.
 

detroitdad

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3rd time you cancel last minute or no show I remove you from my invite list
 

manamongkids

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No matter the time of the year youre going to get excuses. Before, right before Xmas you'll get the family excuse. After Xmas you'll get the no money from the holiday excuse. It's going to be perpetual thing you will face

Grow your invite list is the best thing you can do, planning small games 1-3 tables months in advance legit never works. Its almost better to only plan 1 week in advance because people usually know their plans roughly one week in advance, but not usually several weeks in advance.
 

BGinGA

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Very tough to schedule events this time of year, due to conflicts with holiday parties and people spending on Christmas. I gave up scheduling anything in December (except maybe 1st Saturday) a long time ago. Trying to get commitments further out than 7 days is pointless, imo - no matter what time of year. I shop the day before the event.

Sounds like you need to tighten up your invite list a bit, and consider loading it heavy with:
1. couples where both people play,
2. single guys and gals with no spouse/SO.

There are very few folks on my list that don't meet one of those two criteria (less than 25% overall).
 

Jeff

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Hosting is hard, you're a good guy for doing it. I don't think your "flake rate" is any higher than you should expect.
 

links_slayer

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I have a relatively small invite list (24 dudes) and struggle at times to get even 6 or 7 for a game. I have, for the most part, been a quality > quantity type guy when comes to inviting people to my house to play cards. I would rather cancel (there's always next time) than have a table full of friends of friends of friends that I don't know - that happened once and once was enough for my taste. A few guys are known to reply "I'm in, let me know if you want me to wrangle up some other guys." I appreciate it but almost always politely decline.
 

kiva

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I had 96 people on my invite list. Most confirmed that they wanted to be on the list. I usually got 32-38 confirmed, and over 50% that never RSVP. I always told my folks I'd rather a no than a non-response, but it fell on deaf ears.

I do this (smaller group) and request any response. No response - you're off the list. I usually do 'clean outs' each month...The people who end up non-responding were so infrequent anyway, it really helped us realize we need a few more 'regulars'...
 

Mr. Cheese

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I feel your pain man. I've been hosting our monthly poker games for the last 2 and a half years and I've done everything I can to make it as fun and nice as possible. Awesome chips, nice table, great atmosphere, good food, etc and with my group (16 people pool of people saying they wanted to be invited) I usually only get 5-7 people showing up every time. Although my flake rate is probably only 1 person every other game.
 

Jimulacrum

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This is something I've dealt with in my game as well (somewhat irregularly scheduled low-stakes cash game, alternating NLHE and limit games, usually O8).

Some of my players are regular, consistent attendees. If they say they're coming, I can count on them to be there every time, and on the odd chance they flake, I know it's for a good reason, and that I'll probably be notified at least days in advance.

On the other hand, I find that there's about a 50% chance than any new player who has never attended before will flake, or worse, no-call/no-show. I also find that more serious players, especially those who tend to make money at poker, are much more likely to show than casual/recreational players, for pretty obvious reasons. In any case, if someone who has never attended before fails to even notify me he's not showing, he's off my invite list. If he flakes at the last minute, I have a three-strikes policy. (If it's someone who has attended a meaningful number of times, I reserve the right to handle it more diplomatically.)

Personally, I don't get how people pull that kind of shit. I've had to miss a couple games recently (sorry Bergs) for a totally legitimate reason, and it bothers me that I can't be at a game that I'm enthusiastic about attending, even if I never fully committed to coming. I can't imagine saying I'm going to come and then simply blowing it off the day of the game. But I suspect that some folks have a very different attitude than I do—particularly people who don't host poker games or don't host any gatherings at all. They treat RSVPing a little like taking out an option, even if what they actually said was "Yes, I am coming." It's an immature attitude that I like to keep off of my invite list if I can help it.
 

Poker Zombie

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We ask everyone RSVP at least 3 days prior to an event. If you cancel inside that 3 day window (or no-show), you are one of my "flakes".

Players that flake or are sent a mass-blast text 2 1/2 hours before the event. Since invites are sent 2 weeks in advance, it is possible that someone just forgot or their plans changed. I can cook less food (I will eventually eat all uncooked food at a later date) and I can set up the 2 easy tables instead of the 3rd bitch to set up table if I know what I'll need.

3 consecutive flakes and you are out. 3 consecutive "no-replies" to the invite and you are off the list until you ask to be put back on (we don't want to spam anyone). Repeated, non-consecutive flaking will eventually get you off the list as well, but that is determined on a case-by-case basis.

I also have a newsletter, and I have written a few articles over the years that indicate the great efforts we make (the harder you work to host an event, the easier everyone thinks it is). I make it pretty clear that no-shows are inconvenient for everyone.

We also pimp our event on Facebook (that's right, old guys can use The Facebook too). It only takes a little chatter to get the event bumped higher on your target's newsfeed (make sure to set up a special category so only players you invite get the feed). That chatter generates interest so other's don't want to miss out.

Before implementing the above, we would see flake rates as high as 50% (on occasion). After implementation, our "flake" rate is 15%. Last day cancellations, 5%.
 

MrWitti

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Usually only hosting 1 table cash game. Seats are limited and first come first served. I open a whatsapp group-chat and name it "Home Game & Date" and everyone who attends is in there. So the players can organize carpool etc. 1 week ahead I post a reminder. Usually if someone can't make for whatever reason he latest then lets me know and I can start looking for another player to fill the slot. Luckily it happens only rarely.
 

Mojo1312

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I have never been able to get a strong group of players together for a Sunday game once football season starts, and I learned early on that Saturday evenings posed a problem due to the fact that you are competing with too many other activities that people would like to do. Also, people are procrastinators, which explains why there is a Christmas rush at the stores this time of year. I don't think you should be too upset.

Switch your event date to a weeknight next year, and see if that solves your problem.
 
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Thanks for running a great event last night.
I always put myself on the "maybe" list until I know for absolute sure that I can attend. I would rather be the one without a seat than commit and take a spot away from someone that knows they can make it.
 

mike32

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I like to announce games about five days before they happen. It is hard for me to make a solid commitment three weeks in advance so I figure it's tough for others too. I invite 30 to get 8 or 9 and I'm always looking for players through word of mouth. Most people are pretty good about the in or out, because they are poker enthusiasts like me. Also so much nicer to do a cash game than a tournament as I always have late arrivals, and am frequently one myself to others games. Life, work and family is thankfully first for most of us.
 

TexRex

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This is an age old problem. I don't think your flake rate is too high. Quite obviously some hosts are more bothered than others by it, but it is frustrating when you have no shows. Our tournaments are the 3rd Friday of the month. If I have to change it, I give players as much notice as possible. I have a sign up list that let's people sign up for future games months in advance. They sometimes forget to let me know when something comes up.

Annually I clean the list. I actually have two lists. Our members get invites through a Google Group list. It's easy -- I send stuff out for members only. Then I have a supplemental list that I send BCC emails too. If they aren't members, they they will get a series of 3 emails sent a few days apart. I've sometimes done the "let me know if you want off the list" and sometimes I've done the "let me know you want to remain on the list." I'm not sure which is better.

If I have a member no-show for 3 months, even if they give me a reason in advance, I drop them from the automatic sign ups and no longer count on them. They will have to re-sign up to be on the list.

I've tried to get people to respond if they can't make it, but it seems every month there are at least 1-3 of no shows. I handle those on a case by case basis. I had 1 no show in Dec, but I also know he and his wife have a new baby and the baby has had some issues. Poker is not necessarily the highest thing on his list right now. Normally he's good at letting me know. I have one table that is some trouble to set up. I only set it up if I'm expecting more than 20. Friday, we had 21 signed up. Right after we got the table itself set up, I got an email that one couldn't make it. It's last minute, but at least they let me know. So, I kept the table up, but didn't finish it by putting on the pad and hoody. They were just sitting on top in case we needed to set it up. We only had 19, so we took that table down during the break. If I have a high number in December, that third table goes in the same room as the Christmas tree, and it's cramped. So Dec. is the one month of the year I hope 30 don't show up.

I keep waiting for the day that I don't have the 3rd table set up, and we have extras show up. We will accommodate them (I want their money in the prize pool and all players benefit in our club standings by having additional players). But it may mean we have to stop the game, set up the 3rd table, and shift players. It means I'll have to select 2 more dealers. It will be a paid, but it will also demonstrate the effect of NOT letting me know! Sometimes that's the best teacher. Some people will never learn no matter what.

For us hosts, we want to know how many are coming. It's much easier to plan for when we know. But I decided a long time ago not to get stressed (and that IS a decision you make) when things go wrong whether it's extras coming or no shows. I always have Plan B and Plan C, and can adjust.

Really, in some cases, life just happens. Unless you are hosting people who make their living at it, poker is a hobby. Some people are more committed to it than others. Here's what I look at. I have 20 players that show up 80% of the time. I have 16 players that show up about 25% of the time. I have another 6 that fall in between those percentages. In the last year, I've had 1 player die, the deceased players wife go from every time to a little over half the time,1 leave because of the death of a spouse, 1 who has dropped out of poker, 1 who moved, and 1 who found another game on the same night much closer than my game. We still had 250 in 12 games -- 20.83/game. As much as I'd like to have 30 a game, honestly, 20 makes a great game. Three times we only had 17 and still had a lot of fun.

I've said for a long time -- your game is either growing or dying. You need to be thinking about and working on replacing players who will eventually have a life event occur that keeps them away from your game.

There are other things you can try that might help. Here's our 2015 monthly promotions:
January -- Mike Davis Memorial Tournament -- only 9 make the final table, reserve a place for Mike, and those at the final table get 10,000 extra chips for making the final table
February -- regular
March -- Texas Independence/St. Paddy's day, bounty, and we make green punch; 100,000 that night instead of 25,000 (but ratios stay the same -- just bigger chip values)
April -- regular
May -- Honor the military (and probably 1st responders too) by wearing shirt or hat, might give out 5,000 extra to those who do something
June -- Bounty month
July -- planning to do 100,000 that night
August -- regular
September -- college night -- wear your favorite college (or other team) gear, probably give 5,000 extra to those who participate
October -- pirate night, bounty, and we make "crocodile blood" punch -- This year the we'll vote on the best pirate outfits. Top 3 will be captains and have at least part of their entry refunded (might have the best 6 split 3 buy-ins -- money will come from our annual membership dues). If I don't have the funds to do that, best pirate outfits will get extra chips.
November -- regular
December -- Christmas bonus (available to all players who survive the first 6 rounds), bounty, and we make Christmas punch. It's the last night for players to improve their standings. That's 4 different things to promote attendance that month. We know this is tough -- it's the Friday before Christmas and attendance is just harder with all the other stuff in December. Still, we've averaged 20 players the last 3 years, which is close to the monthly average. This year, we had up to 10 players who might have taken our Top Gun Award (our best overall player) if things had gone right for them in that tournament. 9 of those players attended with high hopes. Our final table was dominated by the best players, which is unusual given that even the best players at getting to the final table make it only 75% of the time.

With the exception of extra chips, none of those promotions affect the game itself. They all add a little spice to the games though.

Another thing I did 2 years ago was started a league-like system. We have a 12-game season, with now 4 awards for performance through the 12 games. Then we have a Main Event where the buy-in is 3x the regular. Everyone starts the same -- no benefit from the regular season. It's a fun, high reward tournament to top off the year.

These are my ideas, and I've borrowed from others on some of them. They are easy to do, fun, and help increase interest in some months. They require very little in the way of extra preparation from players.
 

TexRex

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I forgot to add this. I send emails out about 2 weeks before each tournament. I send a 2nd one out about a week before, and the last one out 2 days before. In each one, I have a list of players I have signed up and I ask them to let me know if their status changes. For those who thought they were signed up, it sometimes amazes me how fast they let me know they aren't on the list and think they should be. But it also reminds those who have had a status change to let me know. Most players do let me know. Actual no-shows w/o notice are rare -- less than 10%.
 

Trihonda

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Great responses. I read them all, and appreciate the perspective. Sounds like I'm doing ok. Although, it might be a while before I host again.. Had a very frustrating night last night, but that's a topic for another thread.
 

detroitdad

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Our League game is 20 members deep. They get the invite first (We play once a month on SAT's). The have until "x" day to respond. If they don't respond, or can't make it then the invites go out to the sub's.

This is also a points league. If you cancel within 24 hours or no show then you receive negative points.

I host a 1 table cash game every couple of months (there are 3-4 of us that basically rotate hosting cash games which are played once a month or so). I have about 20 guys that I invite, sometimes more. If you no show 3 times your off the list. I've removed three guys from my invite list. We almost always have 8-10 guys. Two of the last three games I have hosted I've had to create a waiting list due to more than 10 commitments. I almost always host on FRI. nights. I usually send the invites out about 7-10 days in advance. If I haven't heard from you two days prior, or you are a "maybe", then I text again asking for a commitment.
 

maneframe150

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I setup a Facebook group for inviting. I can only accommodate 20 players but keep 26 on the invite list. There are 20 of those that I consider to be my "regulars." They make 75% of games. I create an event in the facebook group the Sunday evening before the game (we play every other Saturday night). Players have until Thursday at 6:00pm to click "going." After that deadline, all bets are off because I've got reserve players usually waiting to get in.

The secret to them making games is regularity of the game and the game doesn't stop at the end of the night. We play a Tournament of Champions (TOC) format. $5 out of every persons buy-in goes into the TOC pot. Top 10 points leaders at the end of the season freeroll into the TOC. Players get a point just for showing up. That keeps them coming back....
 

TheDeezer

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I have a very consistent tourney every other Friday. It fills up quick but we get last minute cancels for all sorts of reasons. The suggestion I do is always have two to five more for a 20 person tourney to cover that ... We allow if no players cancel to allow alternates to buy in through the fist 4 levels ( 2 hrs roughly) ------ the players like that as it builds prize pool and it keep the table full for 20 max.....Alternates know there is no guarantee they can play if we are full but also know guys bust out early often and last minute cancels are common. It takes a shit ton of work to put a good tourney but the regulars respect that over time and work with you when you have more than the tourney will allow and also work with the prize pool when the tourney is a tad short from a full 20...at least that my experience.
 

slisk250

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I'm trying something a bit different for my next hosting. Every year I have a huge Cajun food event at my house called the Coonass Classic. We print tri-fold menus with a funny story. We invite about 80 people and not too many miss it. The food is out of the world. This year I included a card inside advertising the first ever Day After Main Event. You can only sign up at the party the night before. The buy in is more than ususal. If you come the next day and play, you have full access to the Coonass Kitchen . We'll see if having a live sign up at the party the night before will get us the two tables we are looking for.
 
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