I am a recreational poker player.
So, when I hear industry insiders and poker heavyweights talking about recreational players, I just assume they are talking about me. But the problem is, the recreational player they refer to sounds nothing like me. The things they say recreational poker players care most about, I don't think about at all. The ideas they express to make the game more appealing to recreational players are things I think will ruin the game.
So, one of us is wrong. Either I don't know what it means to be a recreational player, or they don't understand recreational players at all. Given that those insiders and heavyweights don't seem to actually ask recreational players what they want, and given the fact as stated above that I am actually a recreational player, I'm pretty sure I know which it is.
So even though nobody asked, I'm going to tell those insiders and heavyweights what a recreational poker player is, through the eyes of a recreational poker player.
1) We prefer tournament play to ring games - I play consistently with a group of over 300 players, all recreational players, virtually all prefer tournament play. We enjoy the competition the tournament format provides. We like the fact there is a 'winner' at the end, even better when there is an accolade to bestow upon that winner. Ring games require a different, one could argue superior, skill set that requires learning advance concepts, to be successful. And let's come right out and say it, ring games are BORING. To me, a tournament is a slugfest, and ring games are still-fishing on a pond. It isn't hard to see where the excitement for the game lies.
2) We want to improve, but we don't want to 'work' at it - This is fun for us, not work. We aren't that dedicated. Some are, I'm sure. Some talk about it, no doubt. But mostly we just want to jump in the game and play, and we'll figure it out as we go along. To paraphrase Lynyrd Skynyrd, "I know a little about poker, and baby I can guess the rest."
3) We like to create private games - Prior to 'Black Friday' players could create their own, password protected tournaments, and invite players of their choosing to participate, with relative ease. On Pokerstars, you could do it from the lobby, and have a game up and running as quickly as one hour. On FullTilt, all it took was an e-mail to the designee and your tournament was created for you within a day. Poker communities I belong to took advantage of these features, and created literally hundreds of tournaments a month, recurring tournaments with winners and accolades. And life was good. Do you know how hard it is to create a private tournament these days? Well, Pokerstars' HomeGame Clubs make it easy still, but with having to belong to a club, and a limit on the number of clubs you can belong to, and every little group within the larger group wanting to create and control their own Club, it was much better before with password protected games in the 'private' section of the tourney lobby.
^^ This is the biggest shortcoming in online poker today, from the perspective of a recreational player.
4) We don't quit because we lose - I hear this one a lot, how the recreational player loses too fast and then quits because of it. Well, it's not the recreational player who does that, it is the dabbler. Recreational players range from slight winners to break even players down to perennial losers. For a recreational player, it's not whether you win or lose, its about enjoying the game.
5) We don't want to play with assholes - Straight up, the attitudes of many towards 'fish' is worse than just disrespectful. This is one of the major issues for recreational players. We're there just enjoying the game, and we have to berated for making a mistake, by players who should just smile and make a note of the mistake in order to exploit it later.
Now, many of us ARE those assholes. I see more big talk in the micros than at any other stake. Apparently, all the big pros are playing microstakes these days, I dunno lol
Now, just one more thing, and this is most important . . . .
You don't have to change the game for us. - Haven't I said it enough? I am a recreational POKER player, and the LAST thing I want is a bunch of gimmicks and other such nonsense changing the way the game is played. I enjoy the game the way the game is, I play the game the way the game is. It isn't broken, don't fix it!
Look, every little tweak that poker sites make in efforts to make it better for us recreational players is just as disruptive to us as it is to regulars. Because recreational players are regulars. That is what seems to be missed. So before you do something you think is in the best interest of the recreational player, ask one what he/she thinks.