As I was typing up a response to the most recent thread about questions to ask a host before playing in a game I realized that I answer all of those questions up front in a letter I put together for my new players. I figure there are a lot of hosts out there that have gone through the screening process or "vetting" with no real rhyme or reason to it. Maybe some that have never vetted a player coming to their house
. With that in mind I finally figured out an area that I can contribute to a little bit.
I've recruited over 50 new players to my game just in the last year and every new member that has attended (including over 15 new, 2+2ers) has been an excellent fit /end brag. Maybe I've been really lucky, but I believe that a lot of that has been a factor in the screening process that I use for all new players
, even if they come recommended from a friend or current player. I want to quickly thank Lottery Larry for giving me the foundation on which to build my vetting process. Below are the steps I take to introduce a new player into the game.
After I received contact from a new potential player I send my "initial letter"
To give you some basic info. about the game. I'm out in Aurora about 5 minutes south off the Eola exit on 88. I run a game twice a month on Saturdays (1st/3rd week) and usually add an extra couple of games throughout the year in addition to that.
The 1st week we play a .10/.20 NL Hold'em game buy in from $20-40. We use Roberts Rules and really the only extra thing we do is 2-7 bounty of $.50 per person to the winner. On the 3rd week we play a mixed game that we use a mixed game card set for or a fixed rotation game like HO, or HORSE, etc. If I use the mixed game set I pick out 10 games (Out of the 70 of so cards) before we start and from there each player gets to pick one game to play. We then rotate through those games usually for 30 minutes rounds. Some games are pretty standard, PLO, 7CS, Razz, others are variations of the standards. No wild card games or anything like that.
No rake, BYOB. Start time is 7PM and we usually play till around 1-2AM with everybody that is coming planning on staying the whole evening since I have people that drive over an hour to come to the game (which is the reason I don't run tournies as I don't want people busting out after playing for 20 minutes). I recommend coming with at least 2 buyins for the game. I take 8 on any given night on a first come first serve basis even for the regulars. The NL night usually has a full table with a waitlist and the mixed game anywhere from 6-8 depending on the month.
As far as the set up I use only the best at my game and haven't been to a home game with a better set up (I know I'm bragging, but why not ) with a custom table I built, custom ASM clay chips, comfy chairs and plastic cards.
The players in my game are a great group with a wide mix of backgrounds and skill levels. Part of the reason for this I believe is because I screen every player before they are allowed to the game. This seems to deter some folk, but those are probably the people I don't want in my game anyways.
When did you start getting into poker? What type of poker experience do you have? Online/Live? Stakes? Have you ever played in a home game before? Are you looking for a regular game or something less frequent?
Hope to hear from you soon,
I get a response back from the new player that now tells me what type of experience they have playing, where it came from, and some other things. Usually I've found people to be more forthcoming with information for questions I haven't even asked including age, hometown, military experience, colleges attended, place of work, anything really.
Depending on the response I will send ~1-3 follow up emails trying to get more information and see what the new person is like and if there responses seem like they will be a good fit for my game. If things are going well I will then send them the "informational packet" (Also used as a screener) to give them more information about the game, get the personal information I will use to do a background check, and also have them tell me what stakes specifically would work for them.
Form I use can be downloaded via Google Docs (.docx file)
***The password to modify things is "poker" so you can change things to make it fit your needs or whatever.
After I receive the informational packet back I do some checking. It is pretty easy to search people via the internet to find matches for location, schools, place of work, etc. If something comes back off I will ask the person about it. From here I call the person to see if they have any additional questions about the game and also verifies the phone #. This gives me the chance to see what the person is like socially, again to see if they are a good fit for the group. I've had all sorts of stuff and all sorts of conversations at this stage (amazing how far you can get from poker). I also usually summarize everything up until this point and if they will be a good fit I'll tell them when the next game is and when to expect the fit invitation.
Bet you thought I was done at step 3 right
. Once they RSVP to a game for the first time, for some that is the next game, others is six months. I will call them the morning of the game to confirm their attendance that evening and to go over parking information and any last minute details that need attending.
Play some pokah. If you've gone through this whole process chances are they will be a good fit for the group and hopefully a regular player (or atm if your really lucky
) for years to come. If you're unlucky you might get a dud and they might earn a spot on the "do not invite" list
I know some people may think this whole process is a bit overkill or I'm crazy. Frankly, I don't care. I'm inviting strangers into my home, with my family, and their safety and comfort is more important than anything. After all, its just a game and isn't worth the risk.