How to Host a Poker Night

What is a Poker Night?

A poker night is a cash game or tournament hosted between friends at someones house. It can also be called a “home game”. Whilst the basic rules of Texas Holdem don’t change, the nature and flow of a poker night is radically different to the environment of a casino. This article will explain what is needed for a poker night to both run effectively and be fun.

poker night
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Planning a Poker Night

For a poker night to run smoothly, certain things need to be established before anyone walks through the door. If not, you will soon see disagreements, delays in starting and people complaining they are hungry or thirsty.

Start TimeEveryone needs to know when you are starting, otherwise you will get people rocking up at different times and disrupt the flow.
Poker Table & ChairsOne of the most fundamentals and basics of running a good poker night. If you are planning on running a regular poker night, perhaps consider investing in proper poker table. Check out the image at bottom of this page for great tables and deals.
Poker ChipsNeedless to say you will need chips, but ensure there is enough for the game to operate and that people will understand the denominations.
Formats it a cash game or a tournament? If cash game, what are the blinds going to be? If tournament, what are the blind increments, starting stack and pay-outs going to be? Ideally, this needs to communicated to attendees in advance.
Buy InIt’s very important everyone understand how much they are likely to need when playing a poker night. There is nothing worse than people having “IOUs” because they didn’t bring enough cash.
DealerWho will be dealing throughout the night? Sometimes it’s a given it will alternate each hand but when you have certain people who are terrible at dealing, it slows the game and intensity.
House RulesThis may seem a bit a bit strict but trust me it relieves pressure and potential arguments if house rules are printed and visible. We are living in the digital age so you can even PDF it and send round in advance so people are aware. The house rules should inform on etiquette and ad hoc rules including whether a tablet or phone is allowed at the table. We will write an article in the future on good house rules.
Snacks & DrinksIt’s always a good idea to have food and drink bought in advance to appease the guy who loves coca cola and Doritos while he is playing.

Final Thoughts

Poker nights with friends can be a lot of fun. The banter, food and pride of beating friends makes them an enjoyable and memorable experience. It’s important to remember that there are varying degrees of ability between home games and the players that play them too. Not everyone is proficient and experienced as you may be. Ensure the stakes are reasonable and the intensity of the poker night is fitting of the players that are attending.  

I hope you found this article useful. Remember to have fun, win money and gamble responsibly.