Before you decide to host a poker game, you are going to need poker players, refreshments, and rules.
If you want a small, friendly game of cards then you may want to stick with a group of 5-10 friends that play well together. However, if you want a wild crazy night of gambling, you can host an ‘open house’.
An open house would require inviting as many people as possible, and allowing them to invite anyone they would like to bring. Please be forewarned that having an ‘open house’ can lead to some problems.
You may get reckless players, immature guests, and over-dramatic sore losers. You can maintain some control over the outcome of hosting an ‘open house’; but a smaller, friendly poker game is your safest option if you wish to avoid any risk.
An open house would also mean a more ‘tournament style’ game, so you need to arrange seating capacity. A poker game goes much smoother if there is no more than 10 people to a table. You will need to know how many people you have room for, and seats for, and set a limit to how many people you can host.
A very important rule should be an age restriction. Since poker games usually involve gambling, and drinking, you should not allow anybody under 21 to play. You can be flexible, if the situation is right, but you should draw a firm line at 18.
The next topic would be the refreshments. Obviously, you will want to have alcohol. However, with an ‘open house’ you will want to attach a BYOB to the open invitation, or you may end up with a bunch of moochers.
One very helpful poker tip: Don’t drink. Better yet, appear to be drinking more than you actually are. Have one beer, and nurse it. This is good because while your opponents are getting tipsy, they are usually playing recklessly. Keeping a clear head will give you an advantage, and increase your odds of winning.
Refreshments should not be limited to drinks. Food is important when you are hosting anything. From snacks (either chips or something more ‘home made’) to actual food (order a pizza, cook some meat, etc.) it will increase the comfort level and make the night more enjoyable.
Once you have the people and the refreshments, you are almost ready to play. But rules are very, very important when it comes to hosting a poker night. Typically, ‘poker night’ should rotate. You may host one night, and the next weekend it is hosted at another friends. Either way, when you are the host, you are responsible for laying down the guidelines.
This includes variable game options. Are there going to be re-buys, how long do ’rounds’ last (do blinds go up in 10 minutes or 15?) will there be a set dealer or will deal get passed with the blinds, etc. Everything about how the game will be played is up to you to decide.
After that, you should set your own rules relating to non-poker subjects. If this is a ‘boys only night’, or if there is a door charge on top of the buy ins (and what the buy in will be) should all be included with the information on your verbal invitation.
Even if you are not hosting an ‘open house’, you still want everyone invited to be clear of your expectations and respectful of your house.
After these three important steps, your poker night should be all fun and games!