Alright so you’ve checked your state and local laws and have determined that a small home game is acceptable by law. Now you’re going to need a few things to get started. You’ll need a table for everyone to sit at. Any table will do, maybe you want to build your own table. Or maybe you just want to buy a table top for your dining room table. Some may even want to go out and buy a real poker table. Regardless you can find poker tables in our merchandise section to help get you started.
Now that you have a table you’re going to need some chips. Sure you can pick up some cheap plastic chips down at your local drug store but most players today will be disappointed in your chip selection and the best way to have repeat home games is by having at least a Texas Hold Em Casino Style Poker Set sold at your local Wal Mart or in our poker chips section. They run about $15-$20 and come with the blind buttons, 200 chips, 2 decks of cards and a table cloth to put over your dining room table (this could eliminate the need to buy a poker table.) The problem with these chips and even buying a nice poker chip set without customization is that players may come to your home game with the exact same chips and sneak them into the game when no one is looking. You do not want poker cheats sneaking in extra chips. It’s happened to us before, a new player showed up and snuck in identical chips. He ended up winning the game and we didn’t notice until after everyone was eliminated. The best way to go is either by marking your chips with paint that you can buy at any of your local drug stores or buy custom poker chips with your initials or whatever else you want. The players at your home game will be impressed with you if you have your own customized chips and players who are impressed are more likely to come back.
Now that you’ve found the right table and the right chips you are going to have to determine the buy in, the size of your blinds, the chip values, and whether or not you are going to increase the blinds after a certain amount of time. The size of your blinds is another factor that will determine whether or not players enjoy your game. Too low of blinds and your game will last hours without anyone being eliminated. Too high of blinds and no one will be able to lose a hand without being eliminated. The best way to go is to not assign your chips dollar values but rather number values. If your chips represent number values you can give each player more chips and have much more leeway with the numbers you choose for your blinds than if you went with dollar values. As for increasing the blinds after a certain amount of time that’s completely up to you. Perhaps you want to increase the blinds after each player has been eliminated. You should probably ask your players if they want to increase the blinds and see what they say.
Another factor to consider is giving the dealer choice of what card game to play. If you do make your game dealer’s choice you have to decide if the dealer only has the option between a few games or if the dealer can choose any poker game. If you allow the dealer to choose any game many players may become confused as to the rules of the games and confused players are less likely to return to your home game in the future. Determine ahead of time how many different poker games your players know how to play then take a vote as to whether or not the table should be dealer’s choice.
You definitely should designate one player to divide up the equal number of chips to each player and handle any arguments that happen at the table. Pick the player most educated and honest to read each player’s hand to make sure the true winner takes the pot. Having too many players call out winning hands or allowing players to declare their hand without inspection will lead to both confusion and cheating. Some players may declare they hold a hand they truly don’t while others simply may not know what hand they hold. Letting five different people call out a winner will slow down the game and (if they’re drunk) possibly lead to physical confrontations which is something you definitely don’t want, especially if your neighbors call the police on you for noise.
So you’ve got the table, the chips, the size of your blinds, the chip values, buy in, and whether or not you are going to play dealer’s choice all figured out. But your game is missing something. What is it? Oh yes, the players themselves. Ask your friends if they want to play. If this doesn’t give you enough players ask your friends if they have any friends who play. If that’s still not good enough ask your friends friends. Its six degrees to Kevin Bacon. You should be able to find more than enough players for your home game by asking your friends to ask their friends and so on.
Well that’s pretty much it when it comes to starting a home game. You should have everything you need. If we left anything out please feel free to contact us and we’ll add it promptly.