4 men playing poker at a casino

What Do You Need To Play A Poker Game?

One of the best things about poker is that unlike other casino games, playing it outside of the casino isn’t just possible, but in many respects, it’s much better. Primarily, along with online video poker – which, to be fair, isn’t exactly poker – this occurs either in poker tournaments and in cash games with friends, family, colleagues or poker clubs.

Poker tournaments are held by specific organizations, even charities, and players “buy in” to start off with and once they run out of money, they are eliminated. The last player standing then wins the (usually) cash prize. You usually have to be quite good at poker if you want to enter a poker tournament, but if you are, all you really need to do is to show up at the venue, pay the buy-in amount and play until you win or are eliminated.  

Cash games, however, tend to be played between people of similar skill levels or at least in friendly games where bets are kept very small throughout the game, but they are organized by the players themselves. The question then is, if it’s your turn to host a game of poker, either a friendly match or something a bit more high stakes, what do you actually need to host and play a game of cash poker?

A Group of Players

This is obviously the most important thing that you need if you want to host a game of poker. You need players. The question is where you’re going to get the players from. First, decide whether you’re looking for a simple friendly game with friends and family, and then see if they’re keen to join you. Most likely, though, you’re going to want to play with a group of regular poker enthusiasts. 

If you have a friend or two who enjoy playing poker, start out with them and ask them to invite other people they know who might like to play a regular game of poker. The more players the more enjoyable, but try to keep it to between six and twelve players for the best experience.

Alternatively, try and find existing poker groups that you can join. This can be a bit more challenging but perhaps hit Facebook and see if any of the people you know play in poker groups or search for poker groups near you that seem trustworthy and from your own community. You may even find ads advertising for players to join existing poker groups.

4 men playing poker

The Right Gear

You can play with actual cash, but the simplest method is to buy some poker chips to play with. That way, you can decide on what their value is with the other players and use them in place of trying to have the right amount of change to play with.

Most importantly, of course, are to make sure that you have a few decks of good quality playing cards to play with. They don’t have to be fancy, but it’s generally a good idea to play with clean, crisp decks for ease and enjoyment of play.  

You also will need a table and enough chairs to play on. You can buy specialized poker tables if you’re very serious about the game and have the money to spare, but all you really need is a table that’s big enough to hold the amount of players you’re playing with, while giving players enough space not to encroach on each other’s place, while still being close enough to make dealing and playing work. Generally round tables are best or square players if there’s only four of you.

Amazingly, that’s literally all you need to play poker in terms of actual equipment. It’s that easy, that cheap and that simple.

Stacks of poker chips


Beyond the basics that you will need to host a game of poker, basic etiquette also dictates that you provide some refreshments for your guests. This depends on the group. More professional poker groups won’t need much more than something to drink while playing, whereas games that are as much social events as anything can include anything from potato chips and soda to finger foods, sandwiches and alcohol. None of this is crucial, of course, and it’s normally determined by what the players are looking for and what other serve to their guests when hosting, but it makes for a much more enjoyable evening when it’s about more than just the game.

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