Sunday, January 23, 2011

Starting a game at Hooters

Yesterday afternoon I ended up at the Hooters poker room around 5:00. I found two dealers and one shift manager sitting at the table twiddling their thumbs. I was a little surprised that they didn't have a game going yet. They had several names on the list. I was told that those players were occasionally checking back in, but they'd see that the tables were empty, and would take off again for their blackjack tables or slot machines.

I decided to plunk myself down in a seat in the hope that it would get at least one of these in-and-outers to stick around, which, in turn, might persuade another of them that the game was about to go, etc. So I did. I even had them sell me chips, in order to enhance the image that we were on the verge of starting.

I had to wait about 40 minutes before the cards started flying (I carry a crossword puzzle to work on for just such time-killing situations), but it was worth it. Once we got started, the other players were, frankly, pretty easy pickings.

The only reason I'm writing this post is to commend the shift manager at Hooters. When I told him that I'd stay put to try to get the other names on the list to join us, he immediately said, "Great. I'll get you clocked in right now."

That hadn't occurred to me as a possibility, probably because nobody has ever offered it to me before, despite the fact that I've played the same "catalyst" role many times in many different rooms. I earned less than a dollar in food comp credit sitting there, but it was something. More important, really, than the monetary value was the gesture; he was saying, in effect, "I recognize that you are helping us get the game going by sticking around instead of going off to do something else and waiting for other people to show up first, and this is our small token of appreciation."

As the great Chip Reese said, "If you don't open the store, how can you get any customers?" I have occasionally had room managers offer to begin rake-free when there are just three or four players, trying to induce them to get the game started. They obviously know that a game in progress is far more likely to attract additional players than the mere promise that a game will be starting some time in the ill-defined future. It seems to me that Hooters has stumbled upon another incentive technique: Offer to start the comps clock on players who actually sit at the table with chips, as that will probably help get the game going more quickly than if you just add another name to the list.

It's such a simple, cheap, effective, and (in retrospect) obvious idea that I have to wonder why nobody else ever does it.


Anonymous said...

This is done in Laughlin all the time. Once you buy chips you are on the clock. It is a good idea.

Pete said...

I have seen this done frequently and as a goodwill gesture it is fine. But I have also seen it become problematic as a policy. I have seen players getting credit for a freeroll for sitting at an empty table actually try to discourage the game from getting started. I watched one guy sit for hours and conveniently go to get a cigarette as soon as players might be interested in getting it going.

So while it is a good thing to do when a player like you is involved ..... as a general policy it would tend to attract a bunch of nits.

Anonymous said...

I have had this offered to me a few times at the Excalibur, the most recent was this past November.

zippyboy said...

They'd get the game going immediately if a Hooters Girl sat down with you.