Ace of hearts

What Do You Need To Play A Game of Poker?

Poker is unique among casino games in that it is far more often played off the casino floor. This classic card game, one of a number that are played for money, has many things to recommend it. It requires skill as much as luck. Its gameplay is exciting, even nail biting in the final moments in a round. It’s easy to learn but hard to master. But what may just be the best thing about it is precisely the fact that though it can be played in casinos, it’s much more enjoyable when it’s not – and this is because of its major social aspect.

It doesn’t matter if you’re playing professionally, are joining a tournament for charity or are meeting up with your poker buddies for your weekly game, poker is a rewarding social activity. Plus, it’s one of the only, if not the only, card game where players don’t really play the cards but other players. 

Needless to say, when it comes to actually playing a game of poker, if you’re playing in a tournament or are playing the version of poker you find in casinos, you don’t need to come in with any more than knowledge of the game and money (hopefully of a carefully set budget). On the other hand, if you’re playing in a game with friends or, let’s say, poker associates, it’s usually the case that you will end up hosting the game at some point. The DIY nature of poker is one of its best aspects, but if you want to know how to properly host a game or even if you want to know how to join in a game, there are definitely a few things you need to know.

Here, then, is a guide to hosting a game of poker – including some of what you’ll need just to pay it.

Poker chip close up

Requirement 1: People 

This one may be incredibly obvious but any game of poker requires other people to play with/ against. If you join formal tournaments, this is often not an issue as you will be set up with a group of people to play with, but in most other cases you will need a group of players to play with. This is why having a set group of friends or at least poker buddies is such a boon, and it’s even more of a help if you’re the one hosting the game. 

Games of poker can, technically, be played with only two people, but the ideal amount is somewhere between 4 and 8, maybe even 10 players. As for the sorts of people you’re wanting to include in this group, it does depend on if you want something casual, in which case it can just be made up of friends and family. If you want to play seriously, though, and your normal friend group isn’t all that interested, try and join a poker group in your community that you may meet online or, ironically, at your local church or synagogue. It’s always a good idea, though, to play with people of roughly the same level of skill as you and who are wanting to spend the same amount as you. If you’re a rookie and you want to play with bets of a few cents, you don’t want to join a game with hardcore poker players who play with hundreds of dollars each game. 

Playing with a regular group of people is a huge help when it comes to playing regularly and most especially when hosting a game, but it’s not just a question of convenience. Remember, at the heart of a game of poker is your ability to read other players; to recognize their “tells”, while working on your own “poker face”. Being familiar with the people you play with means that these skills are truly at a premium and make the game just that much more exciting.



Requirement 2: A Place to Play

Once you have people to play with, you’ll need a place to play. Aside from times when you might join in on, say, a charity tournament, most games will be held in the homes of different members of your poker group. It might be the case that there might be a rotation where each player gets a chance to host, but for many groups, it may well fall on only a few members of the group. This is because each game needs the right facilities (including enough space to hold you all!) and not all players will be able to fulfill this need, whether it’s because they’re living in a small single-room apartment or if they have large families and don’t have the space to dedicate to a game of poker.  


Requirement 3: The Right Equipment

Obviously, one of the great things about a game of poker is that you actually don’t need much to play it. You’ll need a couple of packs of cards, some poker chips (you can play directly with cash, but plastic poker chips are ideal), a table and some chairs. The cards and the chips are simple, investments that cost next to nothing, but for the deck, especially, try and make sure that it’s a decent deck that’s either new or as good as new. It doesn’t have to be fancy but sticky or bent cards can mess up a good game of poker. 

In terms of a table, dedicated poker tables are probably best, but any round table should do the trick. Just make sure that your table is big enough to ensure that players can’t see each other’s cards but not so large that players can’t reach to place their bets. 


Requirement 4: Agreement on the Rules

There are numerous different versions of poker that you can play, each with their own unique rules, so once you have all the equipment in place and you’re all set to play, it’s crucial that you all agree on what poker game you’re playing and that everyone there knows how to play it. You should also agree on minimum and maximum bets that you can place in any round, and whether you can buy back into the game once you’ve used up all your chips. 

These and other gameplay basics – perhaps even a list of all possible hands to make sure everyone is on the same page – should always be agreed on before a single card is dealt or a bet is made. Doing so will keep things running smoothly and will avoid any unfortunate clashes that may arise for different understandings of the rules.

This requirement is, of course, only really for when your group is starting out or with the addition of new players. Usually, a steady poker group will have agreed on all these things within their first couple of games.

4 of a kind aces

Optional: Hosting Extras

While the above are necessities for hosting a game of poker, it’s generally a good idea to add a little extra to the experience. This will usually depend on what your group agrees to, but you may well be expected to serve some mix of light meals, snacks, soda, coffee or hard alcohol. Make sure you don’t play in a place where your kids might disturb you and that you have enough space to fit everyone comfortably. 

If you’re a serious poker group, you may also want to keep poker chips, an automatic card shuffler or even a blinds time to help you keep track of the blinds in each round if you’re playing a flop-style poker game. 

With these simple things in place, you should be good to go with hosting your very own poker game.

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