Nothing says guy's night like a six pack and a few rounds of Texas Hold’em. Whether you’re a verified tournament hosting pro or a poker playing newbie looking to practice your game with some friends, here are some essentials you’ll need to host the perfect poker night.
If you're new to poker hosting, here are the bare essentials you'll need to get a game started.
1. An Awesome Poker Table
Surprisingly, there is more to a poker table than just a table, and not any will do. There are three important things to keep in mind when picking your ideal table: shape, surface, and size.
In general, the best shape for a poker table is the classic round shape. This allows players to sit comfortably and evenly spaced around the table. No one needs to have a corner sticking into his stomach and everyone can reach the middle. A round table also allows dealers to easily deal out cards.
The ideal surface for a table would be one that is slick enough to allow cards to slide across but not so slippery that they slide off. The classic green felt used on most standard poker tables are ideal, but wood can also work if it isn’t too polished.
Lastly, when converting your kitchen table into a poker table using a table top, keep in mind that it should be large enough to accommodate all the players, as well as any other items such as drinks or ashtrays, but not so large that it’s difficult to reach the middle. If you’re looking to save space and keep all the amenities of a professional poker table, look into some foldable ones. Some even have cup holders built right in!
2. Poker Chips that Say You're a Professional
While anything can be used as chips, it says something about a poker night when you’re using the real thing. Poker chips are usually made from three standard materials: plastic, ceramic, and clay. Cheaper ones are usually plastic and on the flimsier side, but they’ll still get the job done. However, if you’re looking to make poker night a regular thing, invest in some nice clay chips. They are casino quality, less slippery, and make a really satisfying sound when you throw them into the pot.
Any standard deck of playing cards will do, but have at least two decks on hand. You should switch decks between deals to save time. No one wants to sit and watch as someone else shuffles. It would also be good to invest in some plastic cards. They’re easier to shuffle, less likely to rip, and spill proof, just in case it turns into that kind of night.
Now that you have the basics, you can add a bit of flare to your games. Here are some little things to impress your guests and make the night run smoother
4. Blinds Timer
There are plenty to keep track of during a poker game - pot odds, potential hand opportunities, the tells of the player across from you - but blinds shouldn’t be one of them. Before the game starts, set up a blind structure. There are many online sites and apps to help you find the best blind structure based on your player and chip count. Make sure everyone agrees to this structure and set a timer so you’ll never forget to raise the blinds again. If you're big on functionality, you can buy dealer chips that double as blind timers - just another thing to show your guests you know what you're doing.
5. Chip Calculator
If you’re not too mathematically inclined, use a chip distribution calculator to help you determine a perfect way to split the stacks. The amount of chips each player gets and how much they're worth depends on how many chips you have, how many players you have, what your starting blinds are, what the buy-in is, and if you’re allowed re-buys. Make sure you have the right chip distribution or you could end up playing till the early morning.
6. Poster of All the Hands
Poker is a game for everyone, though not everyone may be familiar with it. Accommodate players of all levels by having a poster of the hand rankings in visible view. It’ll make the game run smoother and you won’t have to keep explaining what beats what.
7. Comfortable Seating
Poker may be a fast paced game, but it is not for those with weak stamina. A casual six-player game can easily go on for at least two hours. Here, standard hosting practices apply. Have out some beers (soda for the designated drivers) and some chips. Cushioned seats and snacks will keep even the losing players happy.
For the Pros
Once you're ready for the big leagues, add these items to your night. Though non-essential, they really bring you one step closer to that Vegas feel.
8. Automatic Card Shuffler
If you aren’t a good shuffler, or simply don’t want to, there are many cheap, automatic card shufflers available for purchase. They can shorten the wait time between hands and let you rest yours.
9. Card Guards
Used by most professional players, card guards prevent your cards from accidentally being discarded. Poker nights can get rather hectic, especially with six or more players, and it can be hard for the dealer to keep track of who is still in and who is out. Have some card guards on hand to give to your players. Not only will it class up the night, it can also prevent some good hands from being accidentally mucked. Plus, they'll have a nice souvenir to take home.
Guy's night doesn’t have to get complicated. With just a few items you can make poker night a regular thing. Poker is easy to learn, relatively inexpensive to play, and the perfect way to finish up that seemingly endless work week. Put on some conversation-friendly background music, leave out some snacks, and you’ll have a night of fun for everyone!