Planning the Perfect Poker Games

Planning the perfect poker games is not as simple as calling up your card-loving friends and putting out chips. The party's success depends on more than just filling the seats.

The first thing to think about is what game you want to play. Five-card stud? Texas Hold 'Em? There are several poker games to choose from, and the guests could depend on the game. Once you've decided on the game, you need to determine whether you are playing no-limit, where the players can bet any amount, or whether you are going to place a limit on bets. For home parties, a no-limit game is often a better choice, as the game will end faster if players can "go all in." Also decide whether you are playing tournament style or casino style. Tournament style means one winner ends up with all of the chips. Casino style allows players to get out of the game and cash in their chips whenever they choose.

When hosting a poker party, the guest list is important. You want to invite the right number of people so that the game is not too short or too long. A game with 8t to 10 players can last all night, depending on the skill of the players, even if you are playing no-limit. A game with 4 or 5 players will be over quickly unless you place a bet limit.

Money is an important factor in hosting a poker game. Will you require players to "buy in"? If so, will everyone have to pay the same amount to play, or will you divide chips depending on how much they put in? In tournament style, every player should start with the same amount. Casino style poker allows players to buy as many chips as they want. Will you keep some of the money as a "house fee," or will one winner take it all? Some games even award lesser amounts to second- and third-place players. Whatever you decide, make sure the rules are clear when you invite your guests.

An often-overlooked detail at poker parties is what the first players out will do while everyone else is still playing. Make sure you provide backup entertainment. Set up a dartboard or video game system. Put out refreshments. While your guests may have come for the poker, they still want to have a good time once they're out of chips.

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