Shoring up the foundation
A few weeks ago I went for the first time to a small poker club near where my family lives to see how live-action, low stakes games are coming along in Holland. Inside the club, 90 people were playing a €60 tournament to win a ticket for the Master Classics of Poker, with two rebuys and an add-on available. There were also a couple of cash games that started afterwards. The club had a very nice atmosphere, with lots of people who seemed to be having a genuinely good time.
I like to stay up to date on what's going on all kind of levels of poker and certainly between the locals of where I am finding my roots back, thinking of that as the basics. The only way the games at the top can be supported is if there's a strong base all the way down to the lowest levels of the game where it all starts. One of the things I've done in the past to support the poker industry in a non-playing capacity it to ensure that rules are as fair and as consistent as possible, by creating FIDPA, the Federation International de Poker Association. In addition, once a month I answer player questions at The Hendon Mob's website. I feel it's important to give players answer not just from a tournament director's point of view, but from a player's point of view as well based on fairness but consistent.
Unfortunately I don't have as much time as I would like to have to dedicate making FIDPA more of a success than it already is. Doing something like that takes time, money and dedicated people helping you out. At the end of the day, I'm still primarily a poker player.
But even as a poker player, I still believe that paying attention to certain things - the fairness of the game, the consistency of the rules - will help new players to feel better protected at the table. They'll feel like we're ready to listen and do something about it to better it. We all forget sometimes how daunting it can feel for a new player to sit down at a table, live or online.
One of the ways I reminded myself of that feeling was when I was learning to multi-table. Here I was, struggling with two or three tables, barely avoiding miss-clicks, while some other players were playing 15 or 20 tables effortlessly. I studied and I saw that to start, you have to have a simple system that you know and are familiar with, so you can build your confidence. Think of it like a poker interface. The simpler it is - maybe even something super simple, like a giant "on" and "off" button - makes new users feel more comfortable to use it. The moment you start to use multiple buttons, and highlighting, and three dimensions, things become much more complicated for people who are not used to it.
Keeping the game simple, comfortable, and safe for players who are just starting out in poker will only help those of us who intend to stay with the game for a long, long time. Being happy & feeling safe and in control knowing what they can expect at all times.