Home Poker Games 101

Everything You Need to Know to Host a Successful Game

Young adults playing poker at big wooden table
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There are few things more enjoyable in life than inviting some friends over for a night of poker. It's a great way to catch up while you play cards—and maybe make a little money, too.

If you're looking to host a home poker game for the first time, make sure it's a perfect night by setting it up right. There are a few things you'll need to decide before you start sending out emails and making phone calls to invite people.

What Kind of Poker Night Will It Be?

Do you want to have an informal gathering of friends and play dealer's choice, where each player gets to choose the game played each hand? Or do you want to focus on one game, like Texas Hold'em, all night? Or do you want to imitate the action of the televised poker tournaments at your home?

The most popular poker game right now is Texas Hold'em, and you'll certainly have a great night if that's all you play, but if you're looking for more variety, try a night of dealer's choice or a rotation poker game. 

How Many People Should You Invite?

If you're playing a dealer's choice game, stick to 5-7 people. In any game where seven-card stud is a possibility, you can't have more than 7 players at the table. On the other hand, if you're hosting a Texas Hold'em only night, you should aim for 6-10 players.

What's the Buy-In and What Are the Stakes?

No matter what kind of poker night you've decided to have, you should make it clear how much money your friends should bring to play, or "buy in" to the game with. A good way to set the buy-in for a new game is to choose an amount that you would spend on a night out. Whether it's $10 or $100, it should be enough so the money matters a little, but not so much that anyone is going to miss paying their electric bill if they lose it.

The other thing to consider is what the stakes, or the betting structure, will be. Will it be a spread-limit, fixed-limit, or no limit game? How much will the minimum and maximum bets be?

Once you know the answers, decide on a day and time and deal out the invitations.

Stock up

Before your big home poker game, you need to make sure you have all the supplies to play—and having some food and drink on hand is always appreciated.

Essential Poker Supplies

Strongly Recommended Poker Supplies

  • A dealer button
  • Finger foods: Chips, pretzels, licorice, popcorn
  • Beverages: Beer, wine, soda, water

All that's left now is to put on some good music and wait for your friends to show up—then get the cards in the air and have a good time.