Organizing a poker home game can be a lot of fun.
It can be somewhere you get to meet both new and familiar faces and play cards in a much more relaxed environment.
Before we get into it, though, is this going to be live or online?
Live poker home games need a lot more consideration and this article is going to focus more on the live poker home game setting. Although for live or online, it is a good idea to consider most of these tips as well.
Let’s go over some of the most important tips for organizing a poker home game.
Establish Clear House Rules
You should make the rules clear to everyone before they arrive and confirm them again before they sit down and start playing. This isn’t just about the rules of the poker game, but rules of how people should conduct themselves at your home game. This can include (but isn’t be limited to) things like:
● Is there any rake?
● How loud can everyone be?
● Is smoking at the tables okay?
● Is drinking or other forms of intoxication allowed?
● Will there be any food served?
● Is straddling okay?
Set Player Limits
A lot of poker home games run on credit. Not everyone that shows up is going to bring enough cash with them to rebuy many times. It’s very likely that you’ll have at least one person who wants to continue playing after they’ve run out of cash. In fact, everyone else at the table might wish for this person to keep playing. You or another player will then need to give them chips on credit. Credit is basically a temporary loan that will be sorted out after the game.
Problems may arise when that person loses all those credited chips and would like to reload more. At this point, if you are one fronting the chips, you have to think about how likely you will be able to get this money from that person later.
● Are they a close friend?
● How are their finances?
● When are they claiming they will pay you back?
● Do you have any recourse if they don’t pay you back?
● Is it an amount you are comfortable never getting back?
Each individual player will have different limits depending on all these factors. Unpaid loans can easily destroy friendships or turn friendly acquaintances into (possibly violent) enemies. It’s a very good idea to sort out how money matters will be handled before the situation comes up at the table.
Start And Stop Time
You should let everyone know before they arrive when the game starts and when the game ends.
A lot of players don’t want to be the first one there, similar to how some people don’t want to be the first one to arrive at a party.
Some games don’t have an end time and the host is happy to continue the game as long as people are willing to play.
Not every host is this same and some would like the game to finish at a set time. Some hosts just don’t feel like hosting players for more than 8 hours.
You’ll need to decide what works best for you.
Food And Drink
Players are going to get hungry and thirsty. Most players are not going to expect to have to bring their own food and drink. Players are likely expecting you to supply them with both.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Some water, sodas and even a bit of alcohol goes a long way. Food doesn’t even need to be meals, just something for them to snack on. Just let everyone know what their options are before they arrive at your door.
Encourage Common Courtesy
Things like hit and running are generally not okay. Hit and running is where you win a big pot or take all of someone else’s chips and then leave the game shortly after. This is an example of something that leaves a sour taste in everyone else’s mouth.
Requiring players to give at least a 1-hour notice before they would like to leave is going to make everyone feel a lot happier about these sorts of situations.
You may need to clarify if slow-rolling is okay or not. Slow-rolling has been a catalyst for physical violence between some players. This will bring a game to a very abrupt finish, as you can probably imagine. Slow-rolling isn’t technically against any official rules and, in some settings, it might even be encouraged between friends.
A Circle Of Trust
You may not always know everyone personally. If it’s possible, anyone invited should be vouched for in some way. A poker home game can quickly die if there is suspicious behaviour or suspected cheating involved.
You also don’t want someone coming who will violate the rules you have set in place, especially if you are hosting this game on your property.
It’s quite difficult to run a home game all by yourself. It’s much easier to run a home game with at least one other person who you can really trust. This person can be responsible for cashing players in and out, help to judge disputes at the table, gathering food, and crediting players.
If you feel comfortable handling all of those roles yourself, it can be someone to literally just call and confirm everyone will be arriving at the game.
Online Poker Home Game
A lot of online poker sites give you the option to host and organise your own poker home game! This is a great option because you won’t always be in physical reach of the friends you would like to play cards with.
To make it even livelier you can even set up a Skype or Zoom conference call so you can all hear and even see each other!
Hosting an online home game removes most of the hassle from organising a live poker home game. The poker site is essentially hosting it and will charge all participants some rake for their service.
What To Take Away
Whether you want to organize a home game for a live setting or online it’s great to consider these tips. Every home game has unique benefits and problems. Be aware of who is joining the game. Be aware that everyone is different and will behave in their own unique way.
Hopefully, these tips can help guide you into running a successful poker home game yourself!
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