Hosting poker home games is an excellent alternative to playing in crowded poker rooms. You’re playing in maximum comfort, without any pressure, and with the people you like hanging out with.
But, hosting your friends in your home for a poker party can also be a nerve-racking experience.
If it’s your turn to host a poker night, it’s understandable that you want everything to go right and make sure everyone has a good time at the end of the game.
To help you out, we’ll share with you the three most effective tips you should have in mind to ensure everyone has fun and enjoy their time.
1. Draft a Proper Playing Setup
The first and most important thing you need to take care of is to make sure you set up the home game in the best possible way.
You can organize a poker home game in a million different ways. That said, there are a few elementary aspects you should always attend to. Here are the crucial things to focus on if you want to create the perfect playing setup.
You can’t play poker if you don’t have a good set of cards, as simple as that. While I can't add much here, make sure to get a quality, plastic laminated deck of cards, much like the ones you’ll play with in a real casino.
If you've played before, you know that this is a vital aspect, and a good deck of cards is imperative for any serious poker game. This will improve the overall experience on multiple levels and it’s worth spending money on.
The Poker Chips
Many poker enthusiasts set up their home games to play with cash, Monopoly money, or even use food such as peanuts or M&Ms when betting. If you're at all serious about poker, though, it is hard to imagine how that could create a pleasant atmosphere for you.
If you want to have a good time with your friends playing poker, having a proper set of chips is essential.
Luckily, you can grab a high-quality Clay Poker chips set or one of the other options quite cheaply, so there is no need to compromise on your experience.
Having real chips will help make the atmosphere even more immersive and exciting.
The Table and Chairs
When talking about creating the perfect setup for a poker home game, it’s also crucial to think about the poker table you’re playing at.
You can set up a poker game on any surface you’d like. But, ideally, you should play the game on a table big and spacious enough to accommodate every player comfortably.
In line with that, you should make sure that you have enough chairs to fit everyone coming to your poker night. This is an easy thing to overlook but a crucial one if you want to ensure that everyone's comfy.
While you're not obligated to prepare anything for your guests, everyone will feel more welcome in your home if you cover up at least a couple of snack varieties and beverage types.
It’s a good idea to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available during your home game. Despite things usually being relaxed and friendly, you don’t want anyone to go overboard with alcohol.
Even in the friendliest of games, things can turn south quickly if there's too much alcohol involved.
With all of this in mind, even though you’re the host, you’re not obligated to pay for all of the food and drinks. This is especially true if you're not taking the rake.
You can make a deal with your friends so that everyone brings at least something. That way, you’d all spend a few bucks, everyone will feel like they’ve contributed, and there’ll be enough snacks and drinks to go around.
2. Pick the Most Suitable Format
Home games are different from games you would play in a regular poker room. They’re usually primarily about having fun and bonding with your friends.
That’s why you should pick a format that everyone will agree on and enjoy playing. Here are the two main formats you can choose from when setting up the structure of your poker home game:
For most poker games, the cash game format is the preferred way to go about it. Texas Hold'em or PLO cash games work well in a home environment. These generally make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
This is mainly because they are much more flexible.
In cash games, players can jump in and out of the game as they want, and you don’t have to focus intently on tracking the blinds as the night unfolds.
Plus, from the host's perspective, cash games require much less preparation than tournaments. You have to decide the stakes, agree on the buy-in ranges, and you’re good to go.
Hosting a poker home tournament is slightly more complicated than hosting a cash game. This is why you should avoid doing so if you don’t have a solid poker background.
As the host of the home poker tournament, you have to set how fast the tournament will be and what the chip structure will look like for the entirety of the competition.
For example, if you’re hosting a tournament from start to finish in one home poker night, you need to come up with an exact timeframe. You should also avoid freezeout tournaments, and allow re-entries up to a certain point.
Since this is a friendly home game, after all, you should give other players the chance to get back in after they bust. Someone who gets unlucky and busts in the first few levels of the tournament will be bored out of their mind if they can’t reenter.
3. Fun is Always the Priority
Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget the main reason why all of you are coming together to play the game.
In poker home games, fun should always be the number one priority.
Everyone’s there to have a good time and enjoy themselves at the table.
As the host, you should make sure the mood is always light, the atmosphere is relaxed, and there’s no animosity between players.
It’s also good to set a few poker etiquette rules. Nothing too serious, but enough to keep a friendly game going. This will help ensure everyone has a good time and looks forward to the next poker night!