We'll show you how to run a fantastic home poker cash game
Try to keep your home poker cash games fun. Serious money might change hands, but most players come ‘to have a laugh’ rather than grind out a salary.Happy players are more likely to rebuy and keep your Texas Holdem night going strong if they lose their initial stake.
Here’s some ways to make your poker school less like being in the classroom and more like a field trip.
Invest in the best equipment you can afford
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Boost the buy-ins
Some casual players in home poker cash games like to feel like high rollers by playing with an extra zero, or even two, so $10 is equal to $100 or $1000 in chips.
This can create a fun atmosphere, with relatively low buy-ins generating huge pots ‘on paper’. “I reraise you $10,000” is not something most of us get to say very often!
Don’t forget to take the zeroes off again before you cash in…
Spread the workload
Perhaps one or two of your regulars play in home poker cash games elsewhere. They will be experienced, relative to the others, and will have a knack for handling chips and cards that many of the players won’t.
It can be frustrating for experienced players to watch an amateur fumble when they shuffle or deal. Sometimes it’s easier to nominate a dealer for an hour at a time, moving the responsibility around the others in turn. Practise can improve even the most ham-fisted of dealers.
If one person has volunteered to deal for your home poker cash game, or make sure the pots are correct for the whole night, ensure they are given a long break by a competent deputy and buy them a gift to thank them (perhaps everybody can chip in to cover their pizza or takeout food).
Dealing all night to players who are not completely aware of when it’s their turn, or what their options are, can be a lot harder and more trying on the patience than it appears to the casual observer.
Consider a tournament instead of a cash game
Tournaments can be a lot of fun: they are a fixed price; you can give players any level of starting chips you choose; blinds can be small relative to stacks and increase slowly; and you could even sweeten the deal with additional prizes, if you have unwanted stuff lying around, or work for a company which produces promotional items or similar.
There’s one obvious drawback with hosting a tournament instead of a home poker cash game: once a player is busted out, he or she will have to wait until the tournament ends before playing again. Ensure that there’s good reading matter, a Backgammon or chess board, video games or some other entertainment for busted players to pass the time with.
I’ll talk about the specifics of hosting a home tournament in a later edition.
Set the mood
Good music, if everybody agrees to it, can be an excellent complement to your home poker cash game's setting.
Make sure it’s loud enough to be easily audible during lulls in conversation, but not so loud that you have to shout to hear one another bet or raise. A few of my favourite poker soundtrack albums are:
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (original movie soundtrack)
- Pulp Fiction (original movie soundtrack)
- The Legend of Johnny Cash, by Johnny Cash
- Closing Time, by Tom Waits
- A Rush of Blood to the Head, by Coldplay
- Trainspotting (original movie soundtrack)
If the game consists of men only, try to keep wives and girlfriends out of the way. No offence to the girls (they’re lots of fun and tough opponents at the home poker cash game table), but men tend to behave differently when they’re being watched by a significant other. Especially if she has a different opinion about how that last rebuy could have been better spent!
Avoid having a TV on, unless your home poker cash game clashes with some vital live sporting event. It’s almost impossible to ignore a telly. You will grow frustrated if players are slow to act because they are gawking at a screen, and it’s impossible to seat everybody with a good line of sight.
A radio is less distracting than TV if your ‘World Series of Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken Invitational’ clashes with the Baseball World Series final.
Try to host the game in an empty house or apartment. Wives, kids and pets interrupting the game will embarrass the players and spoil the mood.
Next time, I’ll talk about hosting a home poker tournament.