Welcome to our ultimate guide to hosting the perfect poker night in your home. This article explains how to choose the best poker game, highlights the essential equipment you will need, helps you set the rules for your poker night, and explains how to accommodate players of varying skill levels. Read on for a masterclass in hosting a poker game.
The first thing you need to figure out is the type of poker game you want to host. There are multiple variations of poker to choose from, and each one has its own rules and nuances. You can explore the different variations at online poker sites to get a feel for the kind that you prefer. We have broken down the top three poker variants for you to consider when hosting your own poker game:
This is the world’s most popular poker variant. Texas Hold’em is played in the World Series of Poker, which helped catapult poker into the mainstream. Two hole cards are dealt face down to each player, and five communities cards are then dealt face up in three different stages. The first three community cards dealt form “the flop”, the fourth card is “the turn”, and the final card is known as “the river”.
Each player aims to secure the best possible five-card hand from a combination of his or her hole cards and the community cards. Rounds of betting take place before the flop is dealt, and after each subsequent deal. Players can fold, check, raise or call during the rounds. The player with the best hand at the end of the round takes the entire pot, and another hand is then dealt. The best hand available is the royal flush, followed by a straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pairs, a pair, and a high card.
This is widely considered to be the simplest poker variant, and it forms the basis for the video poker games you find at online casinos and online poker sites. It rarely features at tournaments and poker league events, but it is popular at home poker games. You might consider 5-card draw if you are hosting beginners at your poker game.
Each player receives five cards face down after paying the ante or the blinds. A round of betting occurs, and if more than one player remains, there is a round of drawing. The remaining players specify the number of cards they wish to discard and replace with new cards from the deck. There is another round of betting, and then a showdown takes place in which the player with the best hand wins.
Omaha poker is very similar to Texas Hold’em. The main difference is that players are dealt four hole cards as opposed to the two they receive in Hold’em games. Players can choose two of those hole cards to go with three of the community cards in order to form a five-card hand. There are two key types of Omaha poker: pot-limit Omaha and Omaha hi-lo. You can play Omaha poker at online poker sites before deciding if you want to use it for your casino night.
You should focus on creating an exciting atmosphere for your poker night. Stock up on drinks and snacks, create a warm ambience, and perhaps even set a dress code if you want to take it up a notch. It is also imperative that you invest in high-quality equipment if you want to host the perfect poker game. Some people even hire a professional poker dealer, but you may deem that a little excessive. Aside from a couple of decks of playing cards, make sure you secure the following gear:
You can buy a set of poker chips online or at a specialist store. If you plan to invite six or more guests to your poker night, you should secure at least 500 chips. You can get away with 300 for a smaller poker game. The chips should be in various denominations, and it is better to source numbered chips to avoid any confusion.
Make sure you source the correct chips for the type of poker game you would like to host. For example, you might want to buy some black $100 chips and purple $500 chips if it is a high-stakes game. Midrange plastic chips should suffice, but you can dial up the professionalism by purchasing ceramic chips or clay chips. The feeling of a clay poker chip in your hand adds a certain gravitas to proceedings.
You can buy a freestanding poker table, but that may not be the most sensible use of space in your home. You might find it more sensible to purchase a poker table topper or buy a fold-away poker table. That is a great compromise, because it does not take up much space, but it provides a professional playing surface on poker night. If you go for a table topper, make sure the entire length is supported by the table to prevent wobbling issues.
It is possible to buy a specialist timer to time the blinds, such as the small blind and the big blind, and they are sometimes included in a poker set. However, you can also use a regular clock. It is also possible to download a blind timer app or use a blind timer on an online poker site and leave it up on your laptop throughout the game.
You can harness the wonders of modern technology to power your home poker night if you do not want to set up a physical table. Lots of online poker sites allow you to set up a private poker game, including 888 Poker and PokerStars. You can create an account, set up a game and invite your friends to join, provided they also sign up for accounts. You can all be in different locations, but it is more fun if you are in the same room. You can play live dealer poker at some sites with your friends too. Just make sure each guest has a mobile device, tablet or laptop, and that your wifi is strong.
There are lots of different ways to run your home poker game, from a simple structure with low stakes to complex, multi-level tournaments. These are some of the factors you should consider when planning your poker night:
You should schedule your poker game with blinds that increase gradually over the course of the evening. This ensures the tournament ends in a timely manner. You can start by deciding your starting chip amount for each player. Then divide it by 50 to arrive at your first big blind. Your final big blind can be equal to your starting chip amount, with middle level blinds gradually increasing at predetermined periods, such as every 15 minutes or every 20 minutes.
The buy-in is the amount of money each player hands over at the start of your poker game. It all goes into a prize pool to pay the tournament winner, or winners. If you are playing for a large pot, it might be advisable to set longer blind periods to stretch the game out. You can also decide if you want to allow rebuys. This allows players that have lost all their chips to return to the game. Decide before the game how many times a player can rebuy – for example, once, twice, three times, or unlimited.
It is wise to implement regular breaks within your poker game. This allows the players to stretch their legs, use the facilities and so on. You should also lay down cashout rules for any players that need to go home before the game ends.
Decide whether you would like a single player to be the dealer – it can be yourself or a particular guest – or if you want to rotate the responsibility around the table. Make sure that whoever deals the cards knows how to shuffle and deal in a relatively professional manner.
You should define how the winner or winners of the poker game will be decided before it begins. A simple option is winner-takes-all, but you can alternatively spread the wealth out. Figure out how you plan to incorporate any re-buys into your definition of who wins the game.
Decide whether the entire pot should go to the winner, or if you would like to split it up. For example, there could be a prize for first place, second place and third place. You might give 50% of the prize pool to the winner, 30% to the runner-up and 20% to the third placed player, as an example.
Follow these steps to host your home poker night:
|Lay out a poker table with $1,000 in chips of various denominations for each player.
|Explain the rules to your guests – for example, the first big blind is $20, and big blinds will increase every 20 minutes until the final big blind of $1,000, with two re-buys per player allowed.
|Ask each player to pay cash into a pool. Explain how the pool will be divided at the end of the game – winner-takes-all or divided up. Set out the rules for cashouts.
|Deal two hole cards to each player and lay down three community cards for your first Texas Hold’em round. Allow players to fold, check or raise. If multiple players are still in, deal the turn and then the river. The player with the best hand wins the chips.
|Repeat this process. You can continue dealing or rotate the dealer role. Use a timer to increase the big blinds at specific intervals.
Allow players to enjoy regular breaks, hand out snacks and keep drinks topped up. When the winner has been determined, pay out the successful player or players based on the rules you laid down at the start of the poker night.
Poker tournaments work best when each player has a thorough grasp of the rules and a similar level of experience. However, that is not always possible, so you generally have to play at a place that the least experienced player is comfortable with.
It is sensible to advise beginners to learn the basics of how to play poker before the poker night. They can familiarise themselves with the rules by playing online poker, ensuring that they are not out of their depth when your poker night begins. Make sure each guest feels welcome by displaying patience. If a guest needs to be reminded of the rules, do so in a concise and friendly manner.
Planning is key to hosting the perfect poker night. You need to source the correct equipment, stock up on drinks and snacks, decide the poker variant you would like to play, set out the big blinds in advance, devise a schedule for the big blinds to increase, set the rules and decide how the winner will be determined, how the pot will be split, and figure out how re-buys and cashouts will be handled. If you are a patient, gracious and accommodating host, your poker game should prove to be a roaring success.
Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.Read Full Bio