Don't Lose Your Home Game Players by mumpsman I’ve played in a number of regular home games over the years dating back to the mid 90s when people thought I was weird for always wanting to play this ‘new’ game called Texas Hold’em. Some games were top notch, and others were just plain horrible. However even the good ones had some problems that I watched drive away lots of people that were potential cash cows. In this article I want to address a few of those problems in the hope that you can evaluate your home game and keep the fish coming back. 1. Far and away, the worst thing you can do is criticize, be mean to, or make fun of bad players. It’s just bad business! Whether you play tournaments or cash games, we all need bad players at our games. I played in a weekly $2/$4 HORSE game in Boston that was first rate. Great hosts, a fun atmosphere, but God forbid you ever sucked out on the host. The guy would not let up on you for the rest of the night. Consequently the bad players that drew his ire stopped coming. Soon we had a roomful of some of the best players in the city and no one could make any money. Be nice to your bad players!!! Go over to top with them! Say, “oh man, nice hand!” when they hit that runner-runner flush. Everyone else in the room knows you’re steaming inside, but your example will rub off on others. Soon the bad players will tell their bad playing friends that they played at a game where everyone is really nice and will bring them along. Before you know it you’ll have schools of fish swimming around and depositing money into your pocket. 2. Have a structure. I hate going to a game where the host has no plan. It takes forever to get set up, people argue over game rules and betting amounts, ugh!! You’re lucky if you get in 10 hands an hour at these games. My current home game is a $2 limit, forced rotation of hold’em, seven card stud, omaha, and a dealer’s choice round. Players have told me that they really like knowing what to expect every week. If you’re going to play dealers choice every hand, fine…but having some established house rules on hand will go a long way in keeping things running smoothly. Here are some questions to consider: Who gathers and shuffles the cards when a hand is complete? The current dealer or the next dealer? Will you be using two decks or just one? I strongly recommend two decks and cut cards. What will you do on a misdeal? In my game when a dealer exposes a card the player it was intended for actually has the option of playing that card face up if he/she wishes to. What do you do if a player is not at their seat for the deal? I always deal to the empty chair, post that players blinds/antes for them and fold them if they're not back in time to act. Your answer to these and other such questions can potentially be big time savers or big time wasters. 3. Have your chips stacked and ready. Another pet peeve of mine is when the host takes 20 minutes distributing chips. You should have a set buy in amount and your chips should be divided up in appropriate amounts beforehand. When someone joins the game they can sit down and start playing immediately. 4. Don’t tolerate space cadets. The co-host of my previous home game in Rhode Island invited a couple of friends to the game one night. They never knew when it was their turn, never knew what the bet amount was, and took forever to act when they were finally prompted. As the host you can’t stand for this. Be polite as possible but take these guys aside during a break in the action and let them know that they have to pay attention or they’ll be asked to leave. I’m sure no one will have a problem helping novices get accustomed to the flow of the game, but everyone will resent having the game held up by guys who are in la-la land on every hand 5. Food and Drink - be consistent. While I haven't yet seen the food and drink situation drive someone away from a game, I have heard angry rumblings that may contribute to a players overall dissatisfaction with a home game. There was a game in the Philly area that I went to on occasion where .50 was raked out of every pot of the night (in a $1 limit game) to pay for a large amount of food and beer provided by the host. I personally wasn't bothered by this since it was an easy game to beat, but a friend of mine who doesn't drink and is not a big eater took some offense to this. My own policy on this is BYO for the most part. I will provide a few bags of chips and/or pretzels and any beer I happen to have on hand (which usually isn't much) I'll put up for grabs as most people are good about tossing a couple bucks my way at the end of the night if they drink my beer. But I'm always certain that my players know the policy and not to expect dinner and open bar when they come to my game. I've had no complaints...in fact some guys bring cases of beer and just leave the excess with me as a tip! Bottom line, go as far as you want to with providing refreshments, just be consistant and make it known ahead of time. I hope you find this information helpful and/or entertaining. In the future I will contribute more home game do’s and don’ts.