Poker has become a highly popular pastime over the past few decades. According to figures from the World Poker Tour, there are around 100 million poker players worldwide, and this number does not account for those that play occasionally just for fun or indulge in video poker in a casino or online. There are lots of different variations of poker, the most popular being Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Razz, Draw and Seven Card Stud. Within each genre there are further variants on the rules, creating a multitude of games based on a similar premise but with new rules to learn and new ways to win.
Poker can be a great social event, bringing people together with a shared purpose to enjoy a games night that might just result in winning some money. Social intelligence plays a key role in poker success, with the best players being those that have learned how to develop interpersonal skills and make small talk even during tense moments of the game. While beginners may find that there is a strong element of luck to their poker playing, those that take the time to hone their game soon realise that in the long-run, poker is a game of skill. A large part of that skill is being able to analyse other players’ characters and interact effectively whether bluffing or holding the nuts.
Organising a poker night at home starts with ensuring the setting is right. Having a proper poker table can help set the mood and ensure a professional feel to the game, encouraging players to take it seriously and mimicking the atmosphere of the casino. According to 888poker, you should carefully consider how many players you are likely to be inviting, as a circular or octagon-shaped table may be perfect for your poker room and a smaller game. Many poker tables come with special covers so they can be adapted and used as a regular table on nights when no poker game is being hosted, yet uncovered for play, which can help in homes where space is at a premium. The right poker table will last a long time and has the potential to bring many hours of entertainment. Those on a tighter budget could look at poker tabletops, which sit on top of a regular table.
As a bare minimum, those hosting a poker night will need to be able to provide a full set of poker chips and at least two decks of cards. The number of chips required will depend on the number of players invited and the amount of the buy-in and minimum bets. As a general rule of thumb, consider each player requiring between 50 and 75 chips in at least four colours for different denominations. Having a dealer button can also be useful to help keep track of where play is at, especially if the tournament is likely to be a long one requiring players to take breaks.
Once the space has been set up properly, the next step is to decide which variant of poker is to be played and ensure the rules are clearly laid out for all players prior to or upon arrival. The rules include not only the rules of the genre, but also of aspects of the game such as maximum buy-in, whether rebuys will be allowed and up to what point, and how often the blinds will be raised. If the game is a cash buy-in, all cash should be collected up-front. Not only does this prevent any arguments down the line, I can also motivate players to see a big pile of cash waiting for the winner.
If there are players invited who are new to the game or relatively inexperienced, it can feel more welcoming to have a practice session before playing for real money. Allowing people to arrive early so they can familiarise themselves with the rules and play a few practice hands can help prevent putting people off. Getting the right mix of people is essential if the evening is to be enjoyable – gathering a group of newbies in a room with one or two card sharps may be profitable for the sharps, but is unlikely to encourage a repeat event.
Rebuys can be a contentious issue, so having strict guidelines in place for these is vital. Allowing limited rebuys helps to prevent any players from spending large parts of the evening sitting out after going all in on an early hand only to be beaten, which increases overall enjoyment – nobody likes to sit in a corner and watch all night. However, unlimited rebuys pave the way for the richest person in the room to sit tight and wait for the cards that will help them win. Having either a limited number of rebuys per person (one or two is fine) or a time limit on when rebuys are no longer allowed, such as after one hour or when the blinds reach a certain level, helps make the game more inclusive as well as increasing the pot.
While poker is a game that should be taken seriously, especially when there is money at stake, at the end of the day hosting a poker night at home is about socialising and having fun with peers. Providing drinks and snacks, having some unobtrusive music playing in the background and setting up an area where players who are out can play a few hands of something else can all help lighten the atmosphere and ensure the night goes off without a hitch.