Those of you who have spread a poker home game will understand that there are a bunch of little things you have to account for before you can get the cards in the air.
Here are five of the most important things to be sure you have covered before you try to spread your home poker game. You might notice that "buy beer" is nowhere on this list ... I just figured you wouldn't need any reminding of that one.
Tips for a Good Poker Home Game
5) Choose Your Stakes. Choosing your stakes is an important aspect of running a solid home poker game. You have to play for enough money that the game is meaningful and fun, but you also have to keep it cheap enough for everyone to be willing to play. This can cause issues if you have a wide variety of friends.
Half of my friends are unwilling to play for anything less than a couple hundred dollars, while the other half are unwilling to play for anything more than $20. To run a home game, I have to first choose who I want to have at the game.
4) Get Decent Chips and Cards and a Table. If you're going to run a home game, you need to get yourself some real chips and some decent cards. The half-ounce plastic poker chips from the dollar store simply don't work. You need chips with size and heft to be able to properly stack and count your chips.
Cards get abused more in poker than in any other card game. They're bent, tossed, twisted, thrown and shuffled far more often than in most other games. A cheap deck of cards will be battered and torn before you finish your first round.
Although they cost more at the start, if you get a nice set of KEM (used in most North American poker rooms) or Kopegs (official card of the WSOP, and very popular in Europe), it will save you money and frustration in the long run.
If you've ever tried to play poker at a regular kitchen table, you'll understand the need for some sort of poker table. Whether you buy a legit poker table or a poker table topper, or build your own, having a table with a rail and some felt will do you wonders.
3) Brush Up on the Rules. There are a lot of rules and odd situations that may arise when playing poker. When you have real money on the line, it's crucial that these situations are resolved in a fair and consistent manner. You need to be sure you have at least one player at the game who fully understands all of the rules and resolutions for various odd situations that may occur.
PokerListings.com published an article with a variety of odd situations that occur in home games, and guidelines for remedying them. If you ever get stuck, check it out for the answer.
2) Line Up Other Activities. Especially if you're playing a tournament, there is a very real possibility that one or more of your players will bust out quickly. It's common for players to lose their whole stack in the first hand of play (I've done it myself a couple of times). In these situations, you should be sure to have some other sort of activity to keep the disqualified players entertained.
Sports games, movies, video games and a loser's tournament are some simple options. The more people you can keep around and happy, the better a time everyone in the room will have.
1) Get the Numbers. In order to have a home game, you need to have players willing to play at it. If you're looking to spread a Texas Hold'em home game, chances are you're going to want somewhere around nine players. Once you've chosen the stakes you want to play for, you need to find players willing to spend the night playing for those stakes.
Judging by all the home games I've hosted and attended, if you invite 20 people, you'll be lucky to get nine of them to show up. People who don't normally play poker are more liable to show up, as they'll see the night as something fun to do outside of their normal routine.
If you're trying to get a group of poker players together, you'll have a much harder time - they'll be quick to bail when another option comes their way. Always invite far more players than you want, and be sure to get commitments.
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