There’s much more to spreading a poker game than getting together some friends and a deck of cards, here’s the first in a three-part guide for everything you need to know.

This guide is divided into three articles: the setting, what you need, and what you need to know. All three of these elements are crucial to hosting a strong poker game. You don’t need to be perfect on all of them, but if you miss the mark on too many items the game is going to run into issues.

The success of your homegame greatly depends on the setting. You don’t need to be renting a floor at the Ritz, but you do need to have your bases covered.

The Setting for a Great Poker Game

Just like the difference between shooting hoops with friends in your driveway, or on a full court, the setting plays an important roll in the overall enjoyment of the game. It’s beyond most of our means to create the perfect setting for a game, but you should make sure you meet at least the minimum requirements.

Minimum requirements for a homegame location:

  • You need enough space for everyone to sit comfortable around a table. If there’s no room for anyone to move to get up to the bathroom, you’re going to have troubles.
  • You need enough chairs for everyone to have a seat. Also, these chairs need to be comfortable enough to sit in for 2-10 hours straight, and be the appropriate height for the table.
  • The room needs to have adequate lighting for everyone to see the cards, without bright lights directly overhead causing glare on the board-cards.

    Neat. But not enough room, and too much child.

    Neat. But not enough room, and too much child.

  • You need to have places for people to put their drinks. It’s never a good idea to allow players to put their drinks on the table, so they’re going to need somewhere else to put them. Cheap folding side tables work great for this, but you need enough space for these as well.
  • You need to be able to make a fair amount of noise late into the evening without upsetting people. Especially when there is alcohol and money involved, people will get rowdy, you don’t want to have to be the noise police all night.
  • Is there a big sporting event on during your game? You’re going to need a screen large enough for your guests to watch. Beware of the distraction this may cause.

Nice to have:

  • A cooler of ice for drinks. Better yet, a full bar.
  • A waitress to make and serve drinks.
  • Background music.
  • A professional dealer (just about every major city has topless dealers for hire, if that’s your thing).

Of all the things you will read in this guide, the setting is the one which you have the least amount of control. Chances are you’re going to have to make due with what you have, just keep these tips in mind when planning your game.

The best thing you can do is think ahead a bit. Make sure your lighting is sorted, have a plan for background music, warn your neighbors. Just make sure you are prepared.

If I had to pick two points out of this whole article I believe to be the most critical, it would be having enough space for everyone, and not having to worry about keeping the noise down. It’s known as a poker party for reason, chances are it’s going to get a little rowdy whenever a bad beat is dealt.

Check back next week for part two of this guide where you will learn all of the supplies you need to keep your gaming running smoothly.

Read the other parts of this series: