Guide to Setting up the Perfect Poker Night at Home
If you’re interested in throwing the ultimate poker night or tournament party at your house, you will need much more than a deck of cards and a table.
To organize an event that will be the talk among your circle of friends, you will need a bit of investment, including a decent playing surface, a set or more of poker chips, a timer, and a few other things that I will go through in the article.
Although playing poker at home sounds relaxing, you will still have to follow the rules if you plan on staying true to the game. Thankfully, with the help of my guide to setting up the perfect poker night at home, you will know how to exactly achieve what you’ve set up to accomplish.
Don’t forget that you will also need just the right mix of knowledgeable players!
Before You Start
Before you start organizing the ultimate poker night, pull the brakes and go over a few basic things. Before anything, you should determine what type of poker you would like to play. I’ve taken the freedom of limiting the choices to the three most commonly played and popular poker variants, and it’s up to you to choose your cup of tea.
- Texas Hold’em — Each player has two-hole cards and shares five community cards. The player with the strongest five-card poker hand in the last round of betting is the winner of the game.
- Omaha— Players are dealt four-hole cards and have to make a hand with two hole cards and three community ones. The community cards are dealt three upfront, followed by one apiece for the next two rounds of betting.
- Seven-card stud — Players are dealt three-hole cards, two of which are face down. The player with the lowest value card starts the betting. Players are dealt seven cards each in total, without community cards.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to pick the style, but I recommend sticking with Texas Hold’em as it has the fewest rules and it might be the easiest to concentrate on around your friends. If you plan on going for the win, there are things you can do to improve your strategy.
6 Essential Tips To Get You Started
Once you’ve chosen the poker style, start thinking about who you’re inviting. A good number of players to start with is around 10, as you can take turns, and someone can act as the dealer. Think about inviting people with the same expectations from this poker night. And then consider the following tips to ensure the poker night goes off with a bang.
#1 Table, Cards, Chips, Timer
Once you’ve gotten the basics down, you’re ready to move on to setting up the playing environment. If you’re going for a professional-looking setup, start with the poker table. A round dining table, or any bigger table, will work just fine as long as it’s large enough to accommodate all the players. Think about investing in a high-quality green felt to cover the surface of the table.
You can always spring for an authentic poker table, but if you’re on a budget, stick with the previous solution. Keep in mind that players should have enough space between them to avoid cheating.
Now, let’s move on to the poker cards. When talking about any table game, cards are the backbone of the game. Luckily, they are not a big investment. Purchase a few plastic laminated decks like the ones used in Vegas casinos. They don’t crease or bend easily, and they can be wiped clean and preserved for the next poker night.
If you prefer using cash to chips, that’s totally fine. Go for it. But if you want to recreate the genuine casino feel at home, go for the chips. The chips will bring the game to a whole new level of authenticity and stop you from looking like amateurs. It’s up to you to choose whether you want to stick with the cheaper plastic chips or you want to invest in professional chips.
A timer (as shown above) is a necessity if you’re hosting a poker tournament. If you’re just playing a round or two with your buddies, you can skip this section. For sticking by the rules, you will need to keep track of the blinds with a timer. You don’t have to purchase a poker timer; you can download an app or use the stopwatch on your smartphone or smartwatch.
#2 Playing Etiquette
If you’re determined to make this poker night more than just a night in with the guys, you should stick to some playing etiquette. I don’t mean you should wear a 007 type suit, but there are some ground rules that are considered proper poker table etiquette.
For instance, talking or texting on your mobile phone should be considered a big no. Similar rules apply to acting out of turn. Acting out of turn on purpose can seriously damage other players’ thought process. Make it clear that there are some consequences for these actions.
If everyone agrees, you can opt for some background music that’s not too distracting.
Also, think about discarding cards once you fold or you’re finished with the round. It’s considered bad etiquette to discard cards away from the muck or throw them toward the chips if the game is still up and running. It’s important to stay true to sportsmanship after all.
Now that the question of etiquette is taken care of, let’s move on to the rules of the game. Before anything, it’s up to you to decide on the stakes, structure of the game, blinds, and chip distribution, so I won’t go into further details about that.
Make sure the rules of the game are clear — it’s less important how you’re going to accomplish that, over the phone, group chat, in-person, or any other way, but it’s crucial to make the rules crystal clear to everyone.
Determine the payout structure or the tournament’s prize structure beforehand. For example, a thought out payout structure would look something like this: 40% to first place, 25% to second, 20% to third, leaving 15% to the player who places fourth.
If you prefer to distribute the winnings in any other way, it’s your choice.
#5 Buy-ins and Rebuys
The game or the tournament should have a clearly stated buy-in number that players are aware of before starting.
If you’re allowing rebuys, something that I recommend for home games, specify up to what point in the tournament rebuys are accepted. Don’t forget to also set the number of buy-ins allowed in one sitting.
#5 Timings and Breaks
Remember to mention that when the blinds timer sounds, the next blind level is ready to start, and the timer resets. Also, don’t forget about breaks, especially if you’re organizing a tournament.
Let the players breathe, go out for air or a smoke, grab a bite and a drink. Let everyone know when the breaks are scheduled and stay true to the schedule.
Make the rules regarding winning clear. If you opt for freeze-out tournaments, you might be playing endlessly. That’s why it’s essential to determine at what point the winners will be judged and be sure that every player is aware of that.
Now you’re all set! By closely following my guide to setting up the perfect poker night at home, you shouldn’t experience any other issues. You should be able to take this perfect poker night off the ground in no time. Remember not to stress out and just enjoy the night!
Don’t forget to check your local laws when organizing a poker night at home.