Hosting a poker night can be great fun, but with money and reputations at stake it can be stressful if you don't plan it out in advance. Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your poker night is a real blast (and you won't need to break the bank either).
Having a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere with plenty of refreshments on hand is vital. You'll be making an evening of it after all, so make sure there's a good selection of drinks and bites to eat. If it's your first ever poker night, then try keeping it fairly small to start with – a kitchen or front room is perfect for a group of four or less and it's a good way to get a feel for hosting. You can always ramp up the number of attendees later.
Generally, it's best to find somewhere quiet too, if possible. Even if you're playing for low stakes, having an environment where everyone can really get into the game and feel the thrill of playing will go a long way to making your night a success. Some relaxed music (jazz is always a classic choice) in the background can help create that casino ambiance too.
Being well organised is probably the most important aspect of planning your poker night. The first thing to do is find a date that everyone can make, but it's also worth considering what day you want to host the night on as well. Late-night poker games on a Monday or Tuesday could be inconvenient thanks to the working week. Generally, hosting the night towards the end of the week can be a great way of building up to the weekend, as well as ensure everyone is a bit more relaxed and up for playing.
Once you've decided on a date, it's time to set out some basic rules to make sure everything goes smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone. The main thing to think about is a monetary limit. Keep things nice and low to start with, as this will make the games more about fun. Additionally, the more money everyone starts putting on the line, the more tense games can get and that can often be detrimental to the point of a poker night: having a good time with friends, family, or colleagues.
While it might sound obvious, you'll also want to make sure you got a good deck of cards and some poker chips. Having chips is another way to take the focus off money while making each game feel more authentic. A final thing worth noting is it can be helpful to set a time frame for your evening. Particularly tense games could drag out, so by giving your evening a three or four-hour window, you don't have to worry about being caught up in an epic game that refuses to end.
It's essential that you have a good understanding of poker in general, especially if you're playing a certain type, like Texas Hold 'em. Nothing will bring an exciting atmosphere to a grinding halt like having to google the rules halfway through a game. Paddy Power offers a guide to some poker games and with a little research (or experience, if you already play the game online or at casinos) you can make sure that your game goes without any rule breaking or hiccups. Alternatively, you can allow a guest to act as compère for your evening, if they have more experience with the game than you. We'll leave a list of the best poker casinos below if you fancy trying your hand online.