Author Topic: Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments  (Read 85254 times)


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    • FurnessPoker
Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments
« on: January 19, 2010, 09:42:51 PM »
I have run a lot of tournaments at small venues, 20-100 players and over the years I have realised that marketing the tournament are just as important to running them, I do not want to teach anyone to suck eggs, but basically here are a few pointers for people that are, like me, a small operator or new people to the business.

Advertising and Promotion: Although this is a no-brainer a lot of people have what I like to call "The Field Of Dreams Attitude", hold it and they will come, this quite simply does not work, you need to make sure every man and his dog knows that you have an event and you want them there, whether you do this by fliers, advertising in the local newspaper you must advertise and promote.

Maximising Turnout

Every player at my tournament must register first, and we ask for email and cellphone number, then when we have future tournaments we email and send a text.
Sell Tickets, either for the full price or even better a nominal deposit, if people tell you they will be there, expect a good percentage to forget, if they have outlayed some money expect them to remember
Run sattelites. Offer players who are knocked out of the tournament you are currently running a chance to play a self deal sit n go for a seat in the next. Also encourage the venue holder to do the same (where possible) this leads me onto my next tip
Plan Ahead. If your going to run a tournament you need a build up period to it, this way you have more time for word of mouth and fliers to work, if you attempt to run one at short notice you are not going to be short of empty seats.

As I said this is aimed at the novice to the business and the smaller operators. I hope that you find it useful


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Re: Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 12:01:51 AM »
Those are some great ideas, Furness. They actually apply to a greater or lesser extent to tournaments of any size at any venue.  I'd add a few stateside strategies to your list:
1) Local cable television can be very cost-effective and targeted
2) High search-engine rankings for your geographical area. Let's say the event is is "Knoxville, Tennessee". Well, when local players Google "Knoxville" AND "poker tournament", advertising for your tournament should come up prominently. If it doesn't, you need to develop some platform to accomplish this. Your event needs to be announced on Groups, leagues, Facebook, Craigslist, local poker e-media, Meetups, etc., and preferably your own website(s) with appropriate metatags, titles, keywords, etc. so you come up in the search.
3) The venue you're holding the tourney at should promote it. Be it an auditorium, casino, catering hall, etc. There should be posters up to reach their foot-traffic
4) Submit the human interest and what-where-when info to the local news and sports editors of your local paper. Publicity is gold. Allow plenty of time before the event for this, ideally a month or more.
5) Event "announcement and discussion forums" like pokerdiy, cardplayer, twoplustwo, pokerpages, etc.
6) E-mail blasting services like FindPokerPal.
7) Your own in-house e-mail blasts
8) Signage. A well-positioned small billboard where there's high traffic count is great. Those garish portable signs are also very cost effective. Park one in the parking lot near the traffic flow at major intersections for a small fee to the retailer for use of their lot.
9) Newspaper display ads
10) Lastly direct mail. There are all sorts of opportunities to obtain lists of local players. For 28 cents, an attractive inexpensive postcard with "poker tournament" in bold letters and basic tourney info is extremely cost effective

And this I think is as important as anything: there's no one single media channel, rather you want to create awareness and WORD OF MOUTH from player to player by announcing in ALL MEDIA SIMULTANEOUSLY. No media reaches poker players like their friends who are also players by "being everywhere at once" you greatly magnify the total awareness and buzz and you also help accomplish the goal of higher and more search engine results for the event. Then keeping those contact lists as you describe just increases the announcement reach for subsequent tournaments.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2010, 12:06:48 AM by MikeB »


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Re: Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2010, 02:40:37 AM »
Great ideas,

Unfortunatly most of them i can't use here in South Africa.
Legally there are less than 10 places where we can play live poker in the whole country!!!!!! (and they are only in casinos!)
Even fun raisers and charity events are frowned on as are pub games!
Generally however most poker games here are left alone by the authorities unless they become to big. (the casinos don't mind to much as the pub game is their feeders but you still have to be very carefull)

However i have managed to build my game to a point where the players are very happy, it is respected and players travel a long way to play and the numbers are growing to the point that if you don't book you don't play!

Here's how...

Consistancy - the players know the time, day and format. It is always the same. Any changes are done in consultation with the players!
Transparancy - from the rake to the pot, the players can check any time!
Rules - the rules are strictly but fairly enforced and in such away that i have reached across a table and mucked AA and the player went - 'damn, you right' and the game carried on!
Troublemakers - are asked to not come back.
SMS's and emails - sent every game day!

I started with one table in almost cowboy country and now have 5 - 7 tables (depending on time of month) which is all my space will allow unfortunatly. This is every week.

Me - the players know i put my money where my mouth is (have run guareented tornies at a loss but still paid what i said).
I have not missed a game in 80 weeks!

If you have passion for the game and put yourself in the players shoes and are not just doing this to make a quick buck your players will recognise this and it will show in your tornies.

My 2cents worth anyway!
Russell Miller
Southern Cross Poker


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Re: Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2010, 09:43:50 PM »

Your post is a reminder that the best advertising for your current poker tournaments are your prior poker tournaments. And this gets to the issue of "branding" which is little discussed but can be hugely important. Branding is basically how one tournament series distinguishes itself from another.... I've started a separate thread on the topic.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 11:48:06 PM by MikeB »

Nick C

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Re: Tips and Advice for Smaller Tournaments
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2012, 06:57:18 AM »
 I was going through some very old posts and I found this one very informative and interesting. I agree with many of the methods discussed for promoting tournaments. What I'd like to do is talk about tournaments that attract too many players. You might think that it's a problem that you'd welcome but believe me, if you've ever traveled 300 miles or more, or took time off to participate in a tournament, only to find out there's no seat available. I don't know whats worse, getting shut-out? or participating in an understaffed event with poor facilities and poor dealers?!

 Let the players know beforehand, how many can be accommodated. Make sure you have enough good dealers and staff. Many have suggested and I agree, "word of mouth" is the best way to advertise. Nothing will do more to promote your next event than the success of your first. Do it right...and they will come.  
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 02:51:28 PM by Nick C »