Things to consider when planning your own home poker game

I started thinking about the logistics of the home poker game last Thursday, when I was playing at the Dealers’ Game.  It is ran by a former casino poker dealer, and the setup is very nice, yet very simple.  They have everything, rotating dealers, food and drink, two steps away from the back yard if you need a smoke or just a breath of fresh air.  I guess the game has been running for a long time before I even got invited, but I was still pleasantly surprised.  It got me thinking about the logistics of the game, and what takes to make a good home game.  And I know it does not have to be fancy.  My Thursday night game is not fancy at all.  It is still awesome.  We keep it simple.  Playing the same $1/$2 no limit as THEY deal at the casino.  Drinking beer.  Eating pizza and cheese-stuffed garlic bread.  Cracking jokes at the table.  Its not fancy.  Its a real life game.

Planning – Is this a cash game or a tournament?  Is this an all day event, or does it stop at a certain hour? These, and a bunch of other questions that will come up along the way are better off answered BEFORE the desired starting time.  I recommend sending out a text/email/tweet/eVite or whatever it is that you use to communicate with your poker buddies, and getting an accurate headcount. On this communique put the start time, location, game information, and any promotions that you may be running, and ask your players to respond with a Yes/No confirmation.  Offering a simple $25 high card for the button will attract players and motivate them to show up on time.  Although cash giveaways are always nice, if you can’t afford to give out cash, give out some kind of poker merchandise.  It could be as simple as a new deck of cards (fancy deck maybe?), or as elaborate as a clay poker chip set.  It all depends on your income level, and your willingness to part with your money.  ( Fancy clay poker chip set )

Attendance – Do you have enough people for a full game?  Do you have more people then seats ?  Nothing sucks demon cock more is more disappointing then showing up to a poker game and having to wait an unknown amount of time to sit down at the table.  It is at this planning stage that you need to figure out how many people are coming and how many seats are available.  (The demon cock is a reference to Patton Oswald’s stand up about Las Vegas.  I will try to put up a link to the video.)

Location – Home game usually means at home, but even within the home there are plenty of different areas that would NOT make for a good poker game locale.  Game rooms, man caves, meeting rooms, basements and libraries are all good choices.  Living room coffee tables, couch seating and poker tables in the garage is usually a bad idea.

Lighting – A well lit poker table is an absolute must.  This game is very visual.  And no, not just to see the cards in the middle, but to see your opponents, see their reaction, gestures, tells.  That is why the game table should be very well lit, people should not be squinting or shining the flashlight at their cards.  I hope in your fairly domesticated household you can find some good light for the game.

Table / Chairs – This should be pretty self-explanatory.  Comfortable and roomy.  Convenient.  That’s about all you need out of your table and chairs.

Equipment – Chips, cards, dealer button, cut card.  All that stuff is usually included in the Deluxe type chip set.  If you do not have one, Click Here and buy one.  These things are awesome.  Especially if you get the high quality ones.  Like the ones in the casinos.

Bank – Who holds the cash?  The person who is holding all the money should be the only one who cashes people in or out.

Food / Beverage – I am all about the food and drink, as long as it does not interfere with the game.  There is not much more gross things that watching someone try and shuffle cards with oil and pizza sauce dripping off their fingers.  If you are playing a tournament (or an all day/night cash game), it is good practice to set up a dinner break, and stop the game so everyone can get some calories.  Cup holders are also a good idea.

Bathrooms – this one gets more important with age.  Make sure there are adequate “facilities” present.  Some of those old people can’t hold it for long periods of time, and poker is definitely a time consuming game.

Smoking area – I do not smoke cigarettes anymore, so I understand the urge and the influence of that “monkey on the back”, but I am firmly against people smoking at the poker table.  Really dude, I inhale enough pollutants with my daily breaths without the need for your smoke.  But a good portion of the population still puffs so it would benefit the host to have a designated smoking area.  (preferably outdoors)

Ambiance: music / TV – I am all about having some football game on in the background, but as long as its not interfering with the poker game.  I played home games where the game paused because everyone was turned to the TV, and it is really distracting.  If you do have the TV on, make sure its off in the corner, so it does not grab the attention and ruin the game.