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Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

Discussion in 'General Articles' started by tripod22, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. tripod22

    tripod22 Well-Known Member

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    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.​
     
    #1
  2. Captn_All_In

    Captn_All_In Creativity Alliance

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    This is a real good start...

    A suggestion would be to include a discussion of food vs no food and who pays that bill (all legal considerations taken into account).

    How about discussing rules and results of having rules vs not having rules.

    There the was also a typo...
    ...Go over to top with them! Say, ...
     
    #2
  3. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    -text moved to OP so wiki users can contribute-
     
    #3
  4. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    5. Food and Drink - be consistant.

    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.
     
    #4
  5. Captn_All_In

    Captn_All_In Creativity Alliance

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    Good addition....I really love the personal experiences aspect of this article. Really makes it so much more genuine some how. Its a real nice touch.

    Anyways, I found another typo... a double word

    ...to pay for a large amount amount of food ...

    Also if you can think of situations concerning posted rules that might be another addition.

    Anyway you look at it, its pretty good article. You know you may want to add some pics of the room so that n00bs would know how to set a game to keep players coming back...aside from the good chips!:wink:
     
    #5
  6. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    fixed the typo.
     
    #6
  7. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    append to section 2:

    Here are some examples of house rules that can be big time savers:

    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.
     
    #7
  8. tripod22

    tripod22 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    Post #3 is now your working draft.

    You can now make all of your future updates by editing that post.
     
    #8
  9. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    I added my mods to the working draft. What do you think? Good to go?
     
    #9
  10. tripod22

    tripod22 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    Made the items under #2 a bullet list.

    We typically wait a week or two to ensure everyone has a chance to read through it and make suggestions prior to publication.
     
    #10
  11. 4ceps

    4ceps Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    spelling error in section 5's title: the word should be "consistent"

    i think letting your players know in advance about the food/drink situation is more important than being consistant.

    i have a home game with new players all the time in addition to my regulars. with every invite, i specify the food/drink being provided so that the players can decide if they will have dinner before coming to the game or come to the game early and join us for dinner.

    you mention your example about the "rake" for the food/drinks. i know you're not advocating that and that you don't do it yourself, but there are a lot of legal ramifications if anyone's game is caught doing that.

    another suggestion: maybe section 2 & 3 can be combined into a "be organized and prepared" section.
     
    #11
  12. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    Is this ready for prime time yet?
     
    #12
  13. tripod22

    tripod22 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    It can be.

    Are there specific items that you plan to add? If so, I'd like to add them here before publishing as an article. If not, and you just plan to add to it as people make suggestions, then it's ready to go.

     
    #13
  14. mumpsman

    mumpsman Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    I didn't plan on adding anything else at this time. Any new suggestions can be included in Part II.
     
    #14
  15. TenPercenter

    TenPercenter Administrator
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    Re: Mumpsman - Don't Lose Your Home Game Players

    I did some formatting. All words and spelling look great. Print it!
     
    #15
  16. cgraham86

    cgraham86 Well-Known Member
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    In a lot of cases 1 and 4 are in conflict with each other. Taking someone aside and even suggesting that they can't play if they don't pay attention is a good way for some people to simply decide they're not showing up w/o your un-invitation ever happening.

    In my nephew's game we put together there are at least two of his friends who are space cadets. They insist on talking about the entire week's worth of events over the table, and as a result can never manage the deal (if they're on the button) or remember to post a blind, pay attention to when it's their turn, or check their option when they're in the BB. Talk talk talk talk talk. Drives me nuts. After jokingly saying things like "hey why don't you join Oprah's book club instead of play cards if you're going to talk the whole time..." They don't get the hint.

    The deal is I don't want to drive them off. They're not very good, and can make the game interesting - IF they pay attention and stop talking for 5 seconds. If I try to explain to them off to the side what they're doing wrong they just won't show up. To them it's monopoly, so they would see something like that as silly and wonder why I'm being so "stressed out" over a game. Also, changing the stakes may have the same negative effect. They just won't be interested.

    I haven't hosted this game in a while on purpose to see if they are actually interested in playing. They are (they say they miss it), but I'm thinking we need some different players that put these folks in the minority to change the overall mood of the table. If they don't control the mood maybe they'll wise up.
     
    #16
  17. joepro

    joepro Well-Known Member
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    Wow, that is a really good article. A lot of common sense stuff, but good pointers nonetheless. I am hosting a game next week, and I have decided to hire a professional dealer I know to keep the game moving. Instead of the traditional dealer's choice this crowd usually plays, I am doing a rotation of games they typically play, with a few of my own favorites of course. I think this will speed up the games a lot, and they all seem receptive to this idea. I may add a "dealer's choice round", but I haven't decided yet. I can't wait, it should be a lot of fun.
     
    #17
  18. bergs

    bergs The Don Rickles of Chiptalk
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    You can always put the STFU button on them (several were floating around in the marketplace once upon a time). What it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in effectiveness :wink:
     
    #18
  19. jdunford

    jdunford Donkey hunter
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    True story illustrating point 1 - a pretty rare outburst from one jdunford:

    Middle stages of a HORSE tournament. I'm the big stack. A new-comer to our game came with 2 friends. I technically wasn't hosting (not my house), but I did bring the tournament manager software/laptop and might have brought the chips (can't remember). It's FLO8, and the following hand takes place.

    I'm the button with T5XY (can't remember the other two cards; might have been 2-3 or something like that, but they won't matter in this hand). It's limped 4 or 5 ways to the flop. Flop comes T-T-5, so I've flopped the (current) nuts. New guy bets, I raise, everybody else folds except new guy, who re-raises. I cap, he calls. Might be the first or maybe second time all night that a betting round is capped after the flop. Turn is a low card (keeping a low draw alive). He bets, I raise, he re-raises, I cap, he calls. River is a Q. There's no low. He smiles and bets, I think for a moment and raise, he re-raises with a big smile. I realize something is up, and I said "Ugh, you've got QT, don't you. You just rivered a higher boat on me. OK, show me!" and I just called.

    He flips over QQ9X (he didn't even have a low draw).

    "WHAT?! How could you play that that way? You had nothing the whole way! How could you bet, re-raise, and call my caps on the flop and turn with that?"

    "What do you mean I had nothing?! I had an overpair."

    "This is OMAHA. Obviously I had at least a T, perhaps 55. There's no way Queens-Up was going to take down that hand. ... Biggest pot of the night, and I'm sucked out on by a 2-outer from an idiot that expects Queens-Up to win on a board like that. Geez!"

    His friend sticks up for him. "He was 'protecting his hand'".

    Directed at his friend: "What hand?! He had garbage! He didn't even have a redraw to the low or to a flush or anything. He was strictly drawing to a 2-outer against a guy who was raising/capping him the whole way. What could he beat? A 5? JJ? He was losing to everything that made any sense at all. 'Protecting his hand'... HA! What an idiot."

    Directed at the player in the hand: "Dude, obviously you don't play Omaha. You really should go read a book... actually, you know what? I'll BUY you a book so you don't embarrass yourself with such awful play in the future."

    ---

    For some reason, the new player took offense to something I said and he and his friends never returned to any game I was even attending, let alone hosting. And since then, my friends will occasionally refer to that instance and, after I make a bad play, say to me: "You should read a book. [In fact, I'll BUY you a book.]" :embarras: (the part in square brackets is optional or said by somebody else in the know)
     
    #19
  20. cgraham86

    cgraham86 Well-Known Member
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    Well, if I can't find any I'll make some. Nice idea.
     
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