How to Host a Poker Home Game: Keep it Simple
This refers to how much money to put in the game, the chips you’ll need and whether to host a small tournament or cash game. To keep a home game running smoothly is have one person handles all the buying in, cashing out and re-buys. Because if you have everyone getting their own chips mistakes (both honest and not) are bound to happen. It’s an all too familiar situation where at the end of the night two guys go to cash out and there isn’t enough money to cover the chips that are in play. That’s when people get upset.
How to Set Up Home Cash Games
Hosting a successful cash game is very simple - though we’d suggest going with one for your first poker home game. All you have to do is keep the buy-in at a comfortable level, keep play running smoothly and keep track of the cash.
- Set chip denominations & starting stacks
With chip denominations, simple is better. Don’t use all five colors in your chip set just because you can. If you’re setting up a standard $.50/$1 game, then two colors are all you need. One to represent $.50 and the other to represent $5 chips. Meanwhile if you’re setting up a 1,500 starting stack tournament, use three colors for 5 chips, 25 chips and 100 chips. Stick with the same colors for every game because it reduces confusion for regulars at the table.
- Max buy-in should be 100 big blinds
So if you’re playing 5¢/10¢ blinds you should have a $10 max buy-in. Most games operate this way - both live and online, because it allows sufficient play and doesn’t make it a shove-fest. When running a home game, ask all players and don’t make the buy-in higher than anyone feels comfortable playing. Make sure people are OK with losing a buy-in or two.
- Say your action out loud
To avoid confusing hands have all players vocalize their actions. Instead of just shoving your chips in the middle actually say “bet” or “raise.” It’s a good habit to get into regardless of where you will be playing.
How to Set Up Home Poker Tournaments
Single table tournaments are arguably the most popular home poker games right now. They have been popularized by TV shows like Poker After Dark and even the World Series of Poker. Players typically enjoy tournaments because they last a set length of time and one player walks away the clear winner. The games start with 3-10 players and it plays just like regular Texas Hold’em. Except that you can’t get more chips. And one by one players begin to fall until only the winner remains.
One challenge with poker home game tournaments is the lack of a tournament clock. This can lead to blinds going up slowly and subsequently the action will start to drag in a big way. To keep the game going, blinds must go up at regularly scheduled intervals. We suggest you use an online tournament clock or app.
Using the PokerListings Tournament Clock
The tournament clock on PokerListings is a professional-grade clock that you can use to easily run tournaments from your own home. It’s simple to use and you can customize it in a variety of ways.
- Step 1. Add all the standard details. Give your tournament a name. Select how many players will be playing and enter the buy-in.
- Step 2. Choose the starting stack. A good starting stack usually has players starting with 100 big blinds. If your first level is $50/$25 - why not make your starting stack $5,000?
- Step 3. Select how long you want the tournament to run. Once you choose the length, the tournament clock will automatically update the level times.
- Step 4. Finally choose what kind of payout structure you want. It will automatically adjust for the price of the buy-in! A good standard is top three players get paid.
With all those details in place, you can just hit the play button and the tournament is live. No more guessing when to raise blinds or what the next level will be. You can even get information such as the average stack. The tournament clock handles pretty much everything for you.
Setting up a Poker Home Game - Questions
Is it legal to host a poker game at home?It's legal to play for reasonable amounts of money in a poker home game. However, it becomes illegal once you're taking a house rake. This is restricted to just casinos.
Can you set up private games on Pokerstars?Yes, through PokerStars Home Games you can set up a private members club for cash games and tournaments. Both for play and real money. You can invite any of your friends if they have a PokerStars account and keep track of the leaderboard.
Download PokerStars if you haven't already and go to the Home Games tab in the main lobby. 'Create a Poker Club', name it and as the admin, you manage the club. Create a tournament/cash game, including starting stacks, format, number of players, and payouts. Start inviting members and get ready for the game start time.
How do you set up a poker game with chips?When choosing chip denominations, simple is better. Don’t use all five colors in your chip set just because you can. If you’re setting up a standard $.50/$1 game, then two colors are all you need. One to represent $.50 and the other to represent $5 chips - That’s it. Meanwhile if you’re setting up a 1,500 starting stack tournament, use three colors for 5 chips, 25 chips and 100 chips. Stick with the same colors for every game because it reduces confusion for regulars at the table.
Can you set up a private poker game online?Yes you can definitely set up a private poker game online with friends on larger poker sites like PokerStars and 888poker.
More on How to Host the Perfect Poker Home Game:
- Part 1: Equipment
- Part 2: Hand Rankings
- Part 3: How to Play
- Part 4: How to Set Up (you're here!)
- Part 5: What to Drink
- Part 6: What to Eat
- Part 7: Who to Invite
- Part 8: Etiquette
- Part 9: How to Beat your Friends
- Part 10: Cheaters
- Part 11: More Games, More Gamble
- Part 12: Odds and Exceptions