Starting your own home poker game is a great idea. These kinds of games have been going on throughout the world for decades.
Not only are home games a lot of fun, but they can be easy to profit from. If you’re starting your own home poker game, I recommend not charging a rake.
You’re probably not interested in starting what could possibly be an illegal business. You just want to have fun and get some money into action, and your friends probably do, too.
If you’re charging a rake, it’s not really much of a home poker game at all. Most people can just have the same experience at a land-based casino.
Read below to learn more about how you can plan your own home poker game.
Decide on a Schedule
It’s okay to host a real money poker game as a one-time event, but it’s more fun and more traditional to host on a weekly basis. I know people who do a bi-weekly game, and I even know some folks who host monthly games.
But I personally think weekly is better. My suggestion is to host your home poker game on Thursday nights, and I’ll tell you why.
Sundays aren’t ideal because they’re usually devoted to spending time with family and going to church. Sunday is the last night you have to rest before going back to work on Monday morning. Most people also watch football on Sunday.
Mondays are bad because it’s your first day back at work from the weekend. No one likes Mondays, and a lot of folks prefer to just go home and relax.
Tuesdays aren’t the best choice either, because it’s still a bit too early in the week. Wednesdays might be okay, but a lot of people actually go to church on Wednesdays, which can limit the number of players who show up.
Fridays and Saturdays are tough because a lot of people use those nights for date nights with their significant other. College football fans are often busy on Saturday because of the games, too.
That leaves Thursday as the obvious choice. Starting around 6 PM or 7 PM is a good option, because people need time to get off work and commute to your game.
Finishing around 11 PM or midnight is okay, too, as it allows you to still get a good night’s sleep and still get in a solid four to six hours of poker.
Pick a Game
When I hosted a weekly poker game, we played low stakes, dealer choice games. These are games where the dealer gets to decide what poker format to play. And since everyone gets to take turns being the dealer, the game changes from hand to hand.
There’s nothing wrong with this setup at all, but you should let everyone know what the stakes are and which games are going to be played when you invite them.
Nowadays, a more common format is to pick just one game to play. I play in a monthly poker game which is played in tournament format. The buy-in is just $20. Everyone who wants to play in the cash game afterward has that opportunity, too, and we play NL Hold’em with $1/$2 blinds.
No one’s allowed to buy into the cash game for more than $100 to start, and we’ll accept buy-ins as low as $40. I think poker’s more interesting when there’s enough money on the line to make the game interesting.
If you’re young and live in a college town, a game with a 50 cent/$1 blind structure is probably plenty interesting, but a higher stakes game is going to be more interesting to adults established in their careers.
No matter what kind of game you host, you should know how to play it. I think it’s a good idea to keep a book of rules for various poker games around, too.
Make Sure You Have the Equipment You Need
If you’ve never hosted a home poker game before, you might think it’s as simple as picking up a deck of cards for a dollar down at the local gas station and sitting around the kitchen table.
And yes, you can do that. But that’s far from ideal.
You can buy a table top with green felt on it and drink holders without spending too much money; you can just put it on top of your dining room table.
Another option is to buy or rent a table you use just for your weekly poker game and nothing else. You should also invest in clay poker chips. Don’t use cash. Don’t use plastic poker chips. You can get a decent set of clay poker chips for less than $50.
If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get even better chips. If you’re serious about hosting a home poker game for a long time, you can even get chips that are personalized with your name or slogan on them.
You should also invest in at least one deck of quality poker cards. The better they are, the more expensive they’ll be. I like plastic cards (like Kem) which will last for decades. They’re not made out of paper, so they’re almost impossible to damage. With a deck of Bicycles, you have to worry about them being ruined by someone who might spill a drink on them.
I like having two decks of cards so that one deck is constantly ready to deal. That way, people aren’t sitting around waiting for the cards to be shuffled.
Some people like to have a button, but that’s not necessary in a home game. The button is just a plastic chip used to track where the dealer would be. Since you’re probably not hiring a dealer, the deck of cards replaces the button.
I personally like to have drinks and snacks of some kind when I host. I keep it cheap, though. I ask everyone to pitch in $5 apiece for this. If people want beer or liquor, I ask them to bring their own.
Sometimes, I like to serve sandwiches, especially hot sandwiches that can be serve-yourself from a crockpot. Meatball subs are popular and so are barbecue sandwiches. But you can keep it much simpler if you like.
Think About Who to Invite
In my experience, only 80% of the people you invite are going to show up, so keep in mind how many people are going to show up reliably when you start inviting people. Also, it’s best to keep a tight rein on who gets invited to keep your poker night safe.
You don’t want one of your guests inviting buddies of his to your house if they’re shadier characters than you want to deal with. Also, when you start bringing a lot of strangers into your home, things can start getting weird faster than you might believe.
Heck, I even run into people at my buddy’s house that I’m not entirely comfortable with. Also, I DON’T recommend loaning money to people just so they can make it to poker night. If they can’t afford to buy in, tell them to let you know when they can afford to do so. You can put them on the guest list once they’ve met that requirement.
Planning your own home poker game isn’t hard to do, but it does require a little thought and some organization.
It also involves making sure you have a minimum amount of equipment. Most importantly, the point is for you all to have fun!