There are poker games that leave you feeling satisfied, and there are poker games that leave you feeling ready to get back at it next time. I played in an after-hours match in a country club’s men’s locker room for years.
That cash game was full of talented players and even more potential. Each week would bring a new batch of fish, and the regular players would swallow them alive.
It was an excellent way for a college student like myself to make extra money. However, I became bored with the games.
It always seemed like the better players should face off regularly and consistently. So, a few of us started a game where only the best players were invited to battle.
That game became somewhat legendary in our area, and the list of names on the waitlist included several celebrities. But we kept the game small, and week after week, the end of the night would seem to come too soon.
That’s the type of poker game you should strive to host. Here are 10 tips for building a great regular poker game.
1 – Have a Zero Tolerance Policy for Cheaters
Cheat on your taxes, and you may get a visit from the IRS, cheat at golf, and you get side-eye from your buddies, but cheat in a poker game, and you might get shot.
It will help that you’re building the roster yourself; this enables you to vet each invitee and weed out suspected cheats carefully. You may also talk with some of the more experienced poker players you respect to get their views on different players.
Establish a well-defined anti-cheating policy; I’ve seen things escalate to dangerous levels in small stakes games over cheating.
2 – Play a Consistent Set of Games That Players Know
Many poker games have a regular rotation of games. Some games will even allow the player on the button to pick the game.
Rotating the game is a great way to keep things fresh and expand your base poker knowledge. However, many players appreciate the comfort of having a steady game.
If the players in your circle know you host a weekly Texas Hold’Em game, you’re going to draw a larger consistent crowd than a Stud or Omaha game.
I’m not saying that you have to make Texas Hold’Em the sole focus of your game, but the potential for more consistent games will draw better players.
3 – Put Time Limits in Place or Set Regular Break Intervals
I’ve been in several games where, due to prior obligations, I had to leave a game before it concluded. I’ve always done my best to announce often and early that I’d be living at a specific time.
If you’ve ever walked in after 2 a.m. to a less than welcoming reception, you’ll appreciate the benefits of having a set ending point.
It’s a good rule to allow players to announce their departure fifteen minutes before the next scheduled break. The more structure you can add to your game, the better the crew will respond.
4 – Have a Wide Selection of Drinks Available
It may seem like a low priority to some, but others will view a well-stocked bar as a no-brainer. If you want to make your game one that people will dream of returning to week after week, keep an excellent selection of drinks available.
Even if you make it a bring your own beverages affair, it’s wise to have extra soda and water on hand for mixers or the players not drinking.
If you have a spare refrigerator in the garage, you may clear out a shelf for the poker game. I have a garage refrigerator that’s 95% full of drinks I haven’t purchased.
While I don’t intend to drink them, it’s nice to have a surplus variety for unprepared guests.
5 – Make Sure You Have the Funds Necessary
Before you set out to host a poker game, you need to have your finances in order. The first thing you’ll need is a healthy gambling bankroll that can support the weekly action.
It’s also a bright idea to keep some form of bank. This money can be used to make change for players and also allow players to bill up at the end of the night.
If your finances are a mess or your gambling bankroll is in disarray, it’s advisable to get these in order before launching a poker game.
6 – Hosting a Poker Game Doesn’t Qualify You to Coach Players in Hands
I’ve watched a lot of great poker games fall to pieces because of the people hosting the games. The actions that lead to the games’ demise have ranged from trivial to criminal.
Yet, one common misstep I see are facilitators regularly advising players while a hand is in progress. Hosting a poker game doesn’t qualify you to give players advice on how to play.
Furthermore, unless players explicitly ask for your advice, it’s advisable to keep the tips to yourself. These behaviors will also draw anger from the players still in the hand.
7 – Know the Written and Unspoken Rules of Poker Front to Back
That brings us to my next tip, which is to know the game’s rules inside and out. You need to not only be up to par on all the game’s nuances but the best poker etiquette.
The more serious players will quickly abandon ship if you’re constantly breaking standard etiquette rules at your own game. Your goal should be to make the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.
8 – Keep an Even Temperament at All Times
It’s easy for players to become highly excited when they’re winning. The thrills of winning a massive pot get the adrenaline pumping for players that have been in the game for decades.
It’s not uncommon to see players slip into a contrasting state of overbearing despair when things are going poorly. Nobody cares to see you gloating over wins any more than they want to see you pouting over losses.
Poker is a game for adults, and you need to behave like one at all times. Maintaining an even keel regardless of how the session is going will promote a more welcoming experience for everyone.
In addition to making for a more enjoyable poker game, keeping your head straight will make you a better player. Allowing raw emotion to drive the ship in poker games will cost you time after time.
9 – You’re Not Joe Buck, Don’t Comment on Every Play
It’s rarely the occasion that players in a hand appreciate commentary from the peanut gallery. Whether you’re in a hand or crafting a cocktail, keep your comments to yourself.
Nothing good comes from your added commentary. In the best circumstances, you’re going to irritate someone.
If you want all eyes on you, host a karaoke night, then you can entertain your adoring fans for hours. Poker players prefer a game where the dealer does all of the talking.
10 – Be Consistent and Fair in Every Situation
There are times when you may have interactions with players with who you aren’t close or don’t care for much. You must always treat each situation fairly and consistently.
It will help to let any previous bias end as soon as a game begins. If there are any disputes involving one of your close friends, you should take a consensus before issuing any decisions.
It’s also crucial that you apply the same fairness for multi-table games. It would be best if you randomly drew players for tables weekly.
That will prevent anybody from feeling like they’re continually being relegated to the kiddie table.
These 10 tips for building a great regular poker game for real money will give you a leg up on many of the cash games you’ll encounter. If you stay consistent and draw serious players, your poker game could become almost mythical in poker cliques.
When the game becomes big enough, you’ll learn that maintaining the same level of the game can become challenging. As more players become excited to play in your game, keeping the players at a tier you prefer becomes tougher.