This post is on behalf of thousands of live poker tournament players in Asia but directed toward the tournaments hosts and organizers — a list of the gripes players have. I believe the hosts and organizers that provide the better player experience with attention to these details, will win over the players over and grow massive fields in the long term.
So, strap on your belts, here comes a major whinge-fest:-
Just popping outside for some air: We may be a uniquely evolved subspecies, but poker players can’t live off bad-beat fueled adrenaline kicks alone, we still need oxygen. When the air is full of cigarette smoke and vapour, you are poisoning your players and staff and yourself.
Recommendation: Run poker tournaments in venues that are completely smoke-free.
Humans are 75% water: And poker rooms are 0.001%.
Recommendation: Have bottled water all over the room for players.
My back hurts: I’m leaning to the left, I’m leaning to the right, you do the hokie-pokie and you turn around. Comfortable sitting for 12 or more hours needs a solid chair. If you are buying the 200 dollar chairs from ikea they will break and the players will hurt.
Recommendation: Spend on chairs.
Excuse me, sorry, excuse me: Players need space: space for leaning back, space for walking around, space for listening. Jamming tables close together creates discomfort and conflicts and accidents.
Recommendation: Spread tables out so there is plenty of space between them for walking.
The tournament will start… in 5, no make that 10, umm 60 minutes, : You had a few months to plan, you told the players 1pm, you published it on your brochure and website. Why punish players who can get out of bed and turn up on time?
Recommendation: Start each event according to your published schedule.
Goodnight dear: I know, it’s weird, but some players and dealers have wives, children, lovers, cats and dogs. We do love poker, but most of us still want our mummies to tuck us in.
Recommendation: Make your events finish before midnight. It’s civil.
He said all-in! No, I didn’t hear it… floor! Bars, cafes, discos, karaoke, concerts… these players serve loud music. Poker players want poker. Sure, some gentle background music is soothing after a monster bad beat, but a live band competing with overhead pop-music from tinny speakers while dealers with petite voices and broken English argue.
Recommendation: A single source of music that is quiet and in the background, or just good old quiet.
Are you freezing too? Some rooms are just cold, too cold. But many players don’t know this and are dressed lightly.
Recommendation: Have a jacket lending or rental service. Your jackets could have promotions on them.
Name? So Kim travelled 3000 km to a foreign land without language skills to play your events. And for showing his loyalty and patronage on arrival he gets “Name?”. Players want to feel welcome and special and part of a club.
Recommendation: Make visiting players feel special and welcome. Have an usher who speaks their language, and make a welcome announcement in their languages.
Hey, anyone know where I can find a cash game? Perhaps I’m ignorant, but isn’t the main business objective of live tournaments to get players on cash tables right after? How to piss off a travelling grinder? Have no opens seats open for cash.
Recommendation: Always have enough dealers and tables for cash games for players who bust.
There is an ATM just down the road: How much to we spend? 10k? 100K? And you don’t accept credit card or bank card or USD? WTF? So you want me to carry all that cash on the street. Do you know what country we are in?
Recommendation: Get your payment systems into at least the 20th century. That means credit card, debit card and online wallets.
Excuse me, I ordered a can of coke, like 2 hours ago: Okay, 300 men sitting in a room for 10 hours. That’s a business opportunity in itself.
Recommendation: If you provide free food and drinks, go with self-service. If you charge, then provide fast and easy service using a simple menu and charge enough so you can put on enough trained waiters.
Can I borrow your charger? We all have phones, we all use them, all day
Recommendation: Provide charging packs or a charging station.
Big blind, move! Now! Dear floor staff, we are not in school anymore and you are not the teacher. Please stop ordering us around.
Recommendation: Treat players with respect, politely in a calm voice. It will come back in kind.
Are you playing the what on when? All too often, recreational players don’t know about an upcoming series until the series has started. If players know well in advance, they can find stakers, prepare their budget and travels and talk with friends about it.
Recommendation: Publish dates 6 months in advance. Publish buy-ins, location etc at least one month the start date. Publish on your website, facebook and pokercalendar.asia.
The Super Mega Monster Pacific Ocean Deep Hyper Flipout: Event titles are not advertising taglines. They are product descriptions. Misleading descriptions confuses and upsets customers.
Recommendation: Don’t mislead on event titles. Creative and fun, yes. Eg. “Flying dragon hyper turbo” is enticing and accurate. “Deepstack US$200 high-roller hyper turbo” is bullshit.
Can I rebuy? Rebuys, add-ons, re-entries, freezeout are not 2nd chance lucky draws. They are an integral part of the game strategy.
Recommendation: The screens should display rebuy and reentry options with details.
Nothing to play today: Sometimes, players find themselves taking a day off because the events of the day don’t suit them. Natural. But somedays, you go in and find there are only a few tables running at all for any events. Choice is Day 3 of Main, Satellite or Chinese Vegetable.
Recommendation: Schedule your events carefully and think about about typically types of players and the events they will choose. Will they be playing everyday?
Tournament players for flight AA625, please proceed to the gate: Are we in an airport? Quiet down on the announcements already.
Recommendation: Quiet announcements. Also, use a soft bell for one-minute warnings when play will commence.
Boris picks up AA, he might raise here: You got the readers, built the table, trained the staff, set-up the web feed… it is a lot of work. But guess what, without professional commentary on your final table feed, nobody wants to watch.
Recommendation: Invite pro players to commentate on final tables on your feed.
Warning for you, penalty for him: I bought a domino set as a gift for my little nephew. Would you believe it? It came with a rule book. To this day, I’ve not yet seen a hardcopy set of tournament rules at a venue.
Recommendation: Provide a hardcopy set of rules for players to consult. Also, have a poster on display with the most common misunderstandings; such as, one-chip rule, acting out of turn etc.
Floor, marked card: Cheating happens. Unfortunately punishment for cheaters doesn’t. Players like to see integrity in the game and will trust your brand more if they see it.
Recommendation: Find and punish cheaters: marked cards, chip dumping etc.
Oops, I thought that was a 1000 chip: Some chip designs and colors are difficult to distinguish which causes mistakes, confusion and arguments. Consider color-blind players too (10% of players)
Recommendation: Clear denomination chips with bright colors that are very different.
Thanks for listening and let’s hope to see live poker tournaments in Asia become world-class events.