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Old 06-20-2012, 10:34 PM   #1
jzpiano
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Post 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

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.

Background
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.

Step 1:
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,



Step 2
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)
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5BT...5YV2tiSzQ/edit

***The password to modify things is "poker" so you can change things to make it fit your needs or whatever.

Step 3
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.

Step 4
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.

Step 5
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.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:41 PM   #2
dugthefish
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Furst! Reading now

Edit: Awesome post, JZ. It's no wonder you have such a great game.

Last edited by dugthefish; 06-20-2012 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:48 PM   #3
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by dugthefish View Post
Furst! Reading now
Hope you like it. I could have probably put some more time into it, but with a new job, a doctoral dissertation and two other papers due in the next 2 weeks. I gave it the only free 30 minutes I've had in a while
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Old 06-21-2012, 06:25 AM   #4
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

FAQ/Stickey material (schemndy/eneely - please take action)

Congrats!
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:25 AM   #5
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Great post. Glad you have such a dedicated following for your home game. I can see the time and effort you put in has really paid off.
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:06 AM   #6
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzpiano View Post
I've recruited over 50 new players to my game just in the last year
Insanely jealous of this stat, but after reading your post it's clear that you've put the work in. Nice job.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:28 PM   #7
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

JZ, requesting permission to copy, paste, and edit your welcome letter?

PS. Awesome 4kth post.
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Precept2 View Post
JZ, requesting permission to copy, paste, and edit your welcome letter?

PS. Awesome 4kth post.
Thought I included that kind of note in the OP....guess not. Feel free to take and use or edit whatever you want.
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Old 06-24-2012, 08:25 PM   #9
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Just a random thought. There are a lot of 2+2'er on this site who have gone through my process. Perhaps they would like to comment on here about their experiences, thought, and/or make any recommendations or improvements to the process from there I can make changes to the OP.
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:26 PM   #10
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzpiano View Post
Form I use can be downloaded via Google Docs (.docx file)
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5BT...5YV2tiSzQ/edit
Bad linky? I couldn't get to it using IE.. trying Mozilla now. Nope.


As for the rest- I give out less info early on about the actual games and don't go quite as deep in layers as you do... but we're pretty similar in general process.
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lottery Larry View Post
Bad linky? I couldn't get to it using IE.. trying Mozilla now. Nope.


As for the rest- I give out less info early on about the actual games and don't go quite as deep in layers as you do... but we're pretty similar in general process.
I'll take a look when I get to a computer next and try and fix it. Would copy/paste but would lose a lot of formatting.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:00 PM   #12
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lottery Larry View Post
Bad linky? I couldn't get to it using IE.. trying Mozilla now. Nope.


As for the rest- I give out less info early on about the actual games and don't go quite as deep in layers as you do... but we're pretty similar in general process.
Try it again. I formatted it to google docs so you should be able to see it. If not try downloading it. There are radio buttons and check boxes that got lost for the players to fill in as they are going through. If you want the original shoot me a PM with your email and that you want a copy of this and I'll send it via email.
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:13 PM   #13
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

How many people have you turned down, and for what reasons?
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:37 PM   #14
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

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Originally Posted by asdfasdf32 View Post
How many people have you turned down, and for what reasons?
Probably around 5-10%. I get about a 33% non-completion rate during the screening process though so I think a lot of people that I would turn down weed themselves out for me. I think the process turns people off as it is a bit lengthy and then they don't respond to the form or return emails or a phone call.

Reasons I've turned down people are: criminal record, refusal to answer certain questions, ****ty attitude, or can't hold a conversation at all. One guy I just turned down kept addressed me as "buddy" and gave me a super weird vibe. Once you get enough of a player pool built the wonderful thing is you can be a bit more selective about the people that you let through.
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Old 06-29-2012, 04:59 PM   #15
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

I'm behind in my reading. Just saw this. Great 4K post and great system.

As lanyi suggested, I added links to the HP FAQ and the HGL sub-forum FAQ.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:58 AM   #16
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

I find talking to players over the phone is the best form of vetting. I can usually tell if someone is BSing me or making up info about themselves, is really young, or thugged out sounding. I dont let players come by without at least a 5-10min chat about themselves, unless they are a friend of a good friend who vouches for them. Never had any issues, and my game is super healthy.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:22 PM   #17
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

I ask them to join my FB page and have a look at their profile, to see if they are a real person!
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:48 PM   #18
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzpiano View Post
Just a random thought. There are a lot of 2+2'er on this site who have gone through my process. Perhaps they would like to comment on here about their experiences, thought, and/or make any recommendations or improvements to the process from there I can make changes to the OP.
I reached out to jz a few weeks ago, just before HPI. He was very quick in responding and was incredibly detailed in his description of both the game and his expectations of prospective players.

I had no problem with filling out the form, but I can see why some people might find it a bit much (which was mentioned by jz in his e-mail). However, when you're inviting people into your home, proper vetting is key. I'll admit that it also helped me feel more comfortable with the prospect of coming out and playing in his game. It's nice to know that a host cares enough about the integrity (and safety) of his game to put prospectives through this process.

I think my favorite part of the document was the section which asked about the stakes and games you'd be interested in playing. I read it as his wanting to be a proactive host and work toward constant improvement of his game. This section also makes it clear that he's looking for people who are willing to branch out and play more than just standard "tv poker." While I currently suck at mixed games, I'd gladly play in one at jz's place whenever they're offered.

I made it out to Friday's HOP game at the HPI and I fully intend on playing as often as possible in jz's home game...as long as I haven't made it on his "creepy list."

Cliffs:
  • jz's process is thorough and fair
  • I can't wait to make it out again
  • I hope I'm not creepy
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IBeDrummin View Post
I reached out to jz a few weeks ago, just before HPI. He was very quick in responding and was incredibly detailed in his description of both the game and his expectations of prospective players.

I had no problem with filling out the form, but I can see why some people might find it a bit much (which was mentioned by jz in his e-mail). However, when you're inviting people into your home, proper vetting is key. I'll admit that it also helped me feel more comfortable with the prospect of coming out and playing in his game. It's nice to know that a host cares enough about the integrity (and safety) of his game to put prospectives through this process.

I think my favorite part of the document was the section which asked about the stakes and games you'd be interested in playing. I read it as his wanting to be a proactive host and work toward constant improvement of his game. This section also makes it clear that he's looking for people who are willing to branch out and play more than just standard "tv poker." While I currently suck at mixed games, I'd gladly play in one at jz's place whenever they're offered.

I made it out to Friday's HOP game at the HPI and I fully intend on playing as often as possible in jz's home game...as long as I haven't made it on his "creepy list."

Cliffs:
  • jz's process is thorough and fair
  • I can't wait to make it out again
  • I hope I'm not creepy
Don't worry your not on the creepy list. Glad to hear feedback from players going through the process that my intention is clear and helped make things easier for you as a new player coming into the game.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:27 PM   #20
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

I think you're way overboard with your vetting process, and it's irrelevant anyway. If someone is planning on robbing your home game, or knows that they're a loud obnoxious person who will act out at it, or they know they're a drunk, etc etc etc, they're just going to lie to you during this process and come anyway.

I'm a perfectly legitimate person who would easily pass your background check, and let me be the first to tell you I'd be weirder out enough by it to begin with that I'd not bother taking it to begin with and just ignore your game. Seems very nitty and bizarre to be honest. As you said, you don't care because it's your house and this is how you choose to do things, and that's just fine, just giving you how I'd react to this.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:31 AM   #21
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2OutsNoProb View Post
I think you're way overboard with your vetting process, and it's irrelevant anyway. If someone is planning on robbing your home game, or knows that they're a loud obnoxious person who will act out at it, or they know they're a drunk, etc etc etc, they're just going to lie to you during this process and come anyway.
I think you are overestimating the ability of most weirdos to appear normal.

This is probably an overkill process, but there's a legit justification (inviting strangers into your home to engage in a hobby that attracts weirdos), and once people get qualified, they're more likely to show up.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:06 PM   #22
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Saying it's overkill is an understatement.

I'm rather curious as to exactly how OP would detect that someone has a criminal record or not. Just asking? What if someone lies? What if someone decides to tell the truth, where's the line as far as what is a criminal record? What does OP do if they say there were arrested 12 years ago for weed?

Whole thing really does seem incredibly bizarre to be honest.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:18 PM   #23
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2OutsNoProb View Post
I think you're way overboard with your vetting process, and it's irrelevant anyway.
Vetting is irrelevant? People shouldn't vet the players interested in coming into their homes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2OutsNoProb View Post
If someone is planning on robbing your home game, or knows that they're a loud obnoxious person who will act out at it, or they know they're a drunk, etc etc etc, they're just going to lie to you during this process and come anyway.
A belligerent drunk or creepy weirdo can always be uninvited after his first outburst.

If you're someone who is planning on robbing a .25/.50 NLHE home game, which would you rather hit: A game in which you are required to e-mail back and forth with the host, confirm your identity, maybe meet off-site beforehand, fill out paperwork, etc., or a game where you express interest and get the reply, "Great! Here's the address. See you tonight."?

I'm not a criminal, so I don't know how the criminal mind works. However, I would guess that someone looking to steal is likely seeking the easiest means to that end. Unless I'm missing something, that would be option B.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2OutsNoProb View Post
I'm a perfectly legitimate person who would easily pass your background check, and let me be the first to tell you I'd be weirder out enough by it to begin with that I'd not bother taking it to begin with and just ignore your game. Seems very nitty and bizarre to be honest. As you said, you don't care because it's your house and this is how you choose to do things, and that's just fine, just giving you how I'd react to this.
It certainly can be argued that OP's vetting process has probably chased away some players who could have contributed well to the game. That happens. But, as someone who has completed the process, I will say that it's comforting to know that everyone else in that room has gone through the same process. Is it a guarantee? Of course not. Bad people exist. But it helps, even if in the end it's just psychological.

The only way to (nearly) eliminate the possibility of bringing a bad dude into your home is to have a player pool in which only family and/or years-long friends of the host are invited. These games are incredibly difficult to build and are probably even harder to sustain.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:03 PM   #24
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2OutsNoProb View Post
I'm rather curious as to exactly how OP would detect that someone has a criminal record or not. Just asking? What if someone lies? What if someone decides to tell the truth, where's the line as far as what is a criminal record? What does OP do if they say there were arrested 12 years ago for weed?
He said he's having a background check done.
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:40 PM   #25
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Re: 4k Milestone Post: Vetting and New Player Information

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTroy View Post
He said he's having a background check done.
How can that be possible? He orders a criminal background check for people coming to his home game to play $40 buy in cash NL? Jesus Christ almighty. I understand 2p2 live players are socially awkward, boring people who take the game way too seriously, but that would be just downright weird.

Quote:
Vetting is irrelevant? People shouldn't vet the players interested in coming into their homes?
Uh, yeah, it is. Anyone who had a reason to lie to any of the questions in the questionnaire would simply go ahead and lie, making the questions irrelevant.

Quote:
If you're someone who is planning on robbing a .25/.50 NLHE home game, which would you rather hit: A game in which you are required to e-mail back and forth with the host, confirm your identity, maybe meet off-site beforehand, fill out paperwork, etc., or a game where you express interest and get the reply, "Great! Here's the address. See you tonight."?
I have no idea how the mind of someone looking to rob a home game would work. You'd gain the same exact information through normal social conversation for a couple of minutes, or exchanging an IM/email or two with a potential player, as you would having someone fill out a ridiculously nitty and bizarre form, with respect to weeding out a potential thief/lunatic/wild drunk.

Quote:
It certainly can be argued that OP's vetting process has probably chased away some players who could have contributed well to the game. That happens. But, as someone who has completed the process, I will say that it's comforting to know that everyone else in that room has gone through the same process. Is it a guarantee? Of course not. Bad people exist. But it helps, even if in the end it's just psychological.
Understatement of the century. I would happily be willing to bet that anyone who wasn't on this site who played in home games would find the questionnaire and the criminal background check to be the among the strangest things they've ever witnessed. This site is the only place where this would be considered normal.
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