Hosting a poker night is a great way to have a good time with your friends and co-workers, and of course relieve them of some money as well. Don’t haphazardly throw together a game though, spend time planning it in order to improve the experience for everyone who comes. There are seven main things that you must do.
1. Schedule it
Make sure that you are allowed to host a poker night (Read: clear it with your significant other). Secondly, if you live in an apartment, let neighbors know there might be a bit of noise. Better yet, invite them to the game as well.
The biggest challenge is finding a time that works for all your friends. This is why it’s best to set a date well in advance, so everyone can make time for it.
2. Get the Supplies
Once you have a date, it’s time to get everything you need for a poker game. Note that if you host frequently, it might be worth investing in higher quality equipment. At the very least you will need:
a table (preferrably a poker table or at least a round one)
cards (at least 2 decks in case of damage or lost cards)
chips (the kind you play with, not eat)
What would a poker night be without good snacks? Put some thought into these because you don’t want messy food. Certain chips are okay, but most are greasy or come with tons of crumbs, both things you want to avoid. Vegetables and dip are a great choice, as are most nuts or trail mixes. While alcoholic drinks are common, cater to your guests, there are really no wrong choices when it comes to drinks.
4. Collect the Buy-in
Part of setting the expectation for the night is collecting the buy-in or setting the stakes. It’s important to choose an amount that everyone can afford to lose if you want to keep a relaxed atmosphere and friendly game. Collect the buy-in and make sure everyone knows how it will be paid out.
5. Choose the Game
You’ll often have at least one person who is new to poker. Make sure everyone knows the rules to the game you choose, especially the hand rankings. There’s nothing more frustrating than an argument about a straight beating a flush.
6. Set the Blinds
If you’re playing a tournament, it’s important to move up the blinds at specified times in order to keep the game from dragging on too much. There are many free online blind structure calculators to help you do this.
7. Set the Mood
Lighting and music can have a dramatic effect on the mood of the game. Low to medium light with some quiet music in the background is usually best.
Once you get the basics down you can add in some inventive twists in the future to make poker nights even more fun. For now though, get everyone introduced to the game and you’ll be having a great game in no time.