How to Organize a Private Game – The Gluten Free Poker Game at The Golden Nugget
Last Updated: January 2, 2024
I’ll never forget the first time I played poker at the exemplary Resorts World poker room. Attending Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Mixed Game Festival, I journeyed to Resorts World and was greeted by a luxurious poker room that immediately became one of my favorites in Las Vegas.
While the fancy drink machines and flawless poker tables made an impression on me, what piqued my interest the most was the private poker room in the back.
Through the glass exterior of the room, I saw a full ring of poker players enjoying mouth-watering food and personalized service as they sat behind some incredibly large stacks of chips.
I didn’t know what game they were playing and had no idea what the stakes were, but I saw Nacho Barbero at the table and he looked incredibly cool (as usual).
That was when I had the first inklings of an idea: hosting my own private poker game in Las Vegas. As a $1/$2 shit-reg, it seemed like a ludicrous idea, until it wasn’t.
Why I Wanted to Host My Own Private Poker Game
Without having anything to promote or a need to grow my “brand”, you may wonder what motivated me to host my own private poker game.
Doing something simply because I have (or believe I have) the means of doing it is usually enough of a motivating factor for me to pursue it. Coupled with the fact that I could pull it off was the idea that such a game would be fun to play in!
Playing host to a poker game made up entirely of my friends and peers sounded enthralling and incredibly fun. While we would all be incredibly busy with the game taking place in the middle of the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP), for one night we could all take some time to gather, enjoy each other’s company, and play some cards!
Along with the potential fun, the idea of someone from the “industry” who wasn’t an influencer or pro hosting a private game seemed hilarious to me, and I’m always up for a good laugh.
With my motivation solidified and excitement within me building, in the early months of 2023, I began the initial steps of planning my eventual private poker game.
Venue: Who the Hell Would Want to Host My Private Poker Game?
The first step in hosting your own private poker game is confirming a venue. While you can certainly host a private poker game in your home, nothing compares to the perceived “VIP experience” that comes with having a reserved table inaccessible to uninvited players.
While I certainly could have hosted my group of friends at my micro-studio in downtown Las Vegas, I wanted to provide them with the “exclusive” experience I had grown accustomed to as Fremont Street’s’ most eligible bachelor.
Although I frequented many poker rooms during my year living in Las Vegas, there was one casino I played in the most out of all of them, and that was the Golden Nugget.
The last remaining poker room on Fremont Street, as well as being only a five-minute walk from my former residence, the Golden Nugget once hosted the only uncapped $1/$2 No-limit Hold’em cash game in Las Vegas.
Having become my unofficial “homeroom”, the Golden Nugget poker room was the venue I thought of first when considering where I could host my private poker game.
Securing the email address of Director of Poker Operations Andrew Rich, I sent Andy an email with my request to host a private game at the Golden Nugget along with my desired date.
Andy and his team were friendly, easy to work with, and most importantly willing to host me and my group. What made booking at the Golden Nugget even better was that there was no booking fee to reserve the table, which surprised me!
As long as we were willing to pay the standard room rake for a $1/$3 NLH cash game, not only did we not have to pay an additional fee to reserve the table, but the staff would prevent anyone from joining our game as long as our table remained full.
With the venue for my event confirmed, it was time to assemble my lineup of players.
Assembling a Private Game Lineup
When putting together a lineup for a private poker game, the biggest issue the game organizer often runs into is the availability of players. I don’t care if your name is Ryan Feldman or Molly Bloom, if all of your potential players are busy there won’t likely be a poker game!
Even though I had a long list of friends and colleagues I could invite, with the meet-up game taking place during the WSOP, everyone’s availability was incredibly limited.
After sending out multiple “feeler” texts to see who would be able to attend if invited, I was able to put together the following lineup of players…
Meet the Crushers
- Paul “Pauly B” Beitelspacher – Content Editor/Writer for PokerCoaching.com
- Ariel – Cash Game Grinder, Crypto Investor, and Dungeon Master
- Kieran “Woodsy” Woods – Social Media Coordinator for PokerCoaching.com
- Eric Newman – Lawyer and Pick-Up Artist
- James “That Boi Built Different” Meadows – Video Editor for PokerCoaching.com
- Eric “Luscious” Lusch – Media Relations Manager for the World Poker Tour
- Oliver “Sub-Zero” Biles – Coordinator of the Jonathan Little YouTube Channel
- Erik “Swedish Fish” Eidissen – Content Manager for the World Series of Poker
- Nick “Son of Scott” Steiner – Poker Tournament Manager for Rush Street Interactive
With my lineup of players assembled, we officially had a game, and win or lose I was excited to provide The Dawgs an entertaining evening.
Promoting and Marketing a Private Poker Game
Since I already had my roster of poker players assembled, it may have seemed unnecessary to create marketing materials and promote my private game, but I have learned unnecessary things are often the most fun things.
After developing a name for my premier event, I created the flyer shown below. As you can see, I had fun with the title:
To answer both of your questions: yes, I have celiac disease, and yes, I do offer graphic design services.
With a venue booked, a roster confirmed, and a bitchen flyer, all that was left was attending the event and hopefully winning some of my friends’ money.
My Various Sponsors
On the day of the event, I wanted to ensure all of the “uninvited” players at the Golden Nugget knew what a big deal my event was. To send an effective message, I represented the following poker entities by donning patches and apparel: PokerCoaching.com, Cardplayer Lifestyle, GGPoker, 888poker, and Deck of Degeneracy.
Although none of these entities paid nor permitted me to represent them in the Gluten Free Game, I know they will surely want me patched up again for them next year.
Playing the Gluten Free Game at the Golden Nugget
With all attendees finding their way to the Golden Nugget poker room and getting their parking validated, it was time for the first-ever Gluten Free Game to begin.
Although the goal of the event was to simply have fun and enjoy the company of my friends, I was a bit wary of the lineup I had organized, as a number of them were quite skilled poker players.
Out of all the players, Oliver Biles was who I was the most nervous about heading into the event. Along with the fact Biles is a regular on the poker tournament circuit with years of experience, he is also in the group chat where I send the most poker hand histories.
Being quite skilled as well as being aware of how I approach poker, Sub-Zero himself served as quite the opponent, and I was thankful he was seated to my direct right.
Along with Biles, Nick Steiner was another friend I was nervous about facing at the table. Having worked for Phil Galfond and Run It Once for several years, Nick is a well-studied poker player who knows his way around the cash game tables.
Out of all of my poker associates, Nick has likely critiqued my game the most, which greatly motivated me to show him what I was capable of.
Shuffle Up and Deal!
Arriving at our reserved table and finding our seats, the action began. Amongst the friendly chatter and drinking of libations, my buddies and I enjoyed a couple of hours of No-limit Texas Hold’em along with the occasional orbit of Pot-limit Omaha.
The highlight of the evening for me was calling down Nick’s bluff with my pocket tens. Although I finished the session down $50, it filled me with great pride knowing I stacked a player as good as Nick.
With the event happening half a year ago, I’m sorry to say that I do not know who was the biggest winner and biggest loser of the first-ever Gluten Free Game, but considering the memories we made, I can assure you that everyone was a big winner and had a wonderful time.
Actually, now that I think about it, Ariel was likely the biggest winner, as we won a raffle that provided him a seat in the PokerNews Cup!
Looking Back at Hosting My First-Ever Private Poker Game
I may have said that stacking Nick was the highlight of my private game, but in actuality, it was how many of my buddies said that they wanted me to host another one for them to attend.
While I love the game of poker for a number of reasons, one of the biggest is how it is a social game that encourages individuals to gather. Funny enough, I met both Ariel and Eric Newman playing $1/$2 at the Golden Nugget, and they are now some of my best poker friends!
Hosting my own private poker game may have started as a fun idea, but it eventually turned into a memorable evening and a reminder of what poker has provided me.
Have I accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars on the felt? Certainly not, but I’ll take this group of guys over the money any day!