How to Host the BEST Poker Home Games

Poker Home Games

Hosting a poker home game can be fun, but it also involves a lot of planning and logistics if you want to do it right. There's much to think about, from food and drink to the chips and the table.

We've created this comprehensive poker home game guide to help you set up an awesome poker home game. Trust us; we've covered absolutely everything you need to host a successful home game, so read on and get ready to play!

In a rush? Jump to one of the sections below or keep reading to discover everything you need for a fun night with your friends.

A Poker Home Game

Preparing the Poker Supplies You Need for Hosting a Poker Home Game

Preparation is key when it comes to running a successful home game. You will need a proper table and a quality set of chips, along with multiple decks of cards.

You will want to take care in selecting the correct date and time for your group, and you will need to take the time to consider who to invite and how. Some home games will be run like cash games, but others prefer single-table tournaments. You can assemble a multi-table tournament and crown the local champion if you have a longer guest list.

No matter what game you play, don’t forget that poker players are always hungry and thirsty, so make sure you have a spread of drinks and snacks to keep them comfortable.

Here's everything you need to host your poker home game!

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The table and chips at NAPT Las Vegas
The table and chips at NAPT Las Vegas

The Best Poker Table for your Home Game

A quality poker table is the most important element for your home game. You will want something that is easy to clean and durable. Additional options like cupholders and even LED lighting are available. Check out this collapsible poker table that is easy to store.

Collapsible Poker Table

Collapsible Poker Table


Best Poker Chips for your Poker Home Game

Check out our guide for finding a high-quality set of poker chips.. Be sure to determine how many you need, and always look for a quality set that can withstand much use. Players will shuffle them a lot, and they have a way of falling to the ground a lot.

Check out this set of poker chips if you prefer something on-the-go.

Poker Chips Set

Poker Chips Set


Best Playing Cards for your Poker Home Game

Check out this PokerNews guide for choosing the best playing cards for your home game. Durability is essential, as well as having a fresh rotation of decks.

Remember: you can never have too many unopened decks of cards (we've found out the hard way...)

Quality cards are readily available and usually reasonably priced, especially if you buy in bulk. You can't go wrong with this classic set of playing cards, or you can check out our top five below.

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Drinks and Snacks to Serve at your Poker Home Game

Poker players like to eat and drink, and you will want to ensure they’re happy. A happy, well-fed group is more likely to turn into a regular game — and will likely be splashier with their chips too --.

Best Drinks for your Poker Home Game

You will want to know your group very well when it comes to choosing drinks. Are your friends beer people? Cocktail people? You will need non-alcoholic choices, too.

It’s best to split the difference and offer enough variety so that everyone can find something they enjoy. You may want more quantity than quality unless you invite a particular group, so don’t worry about getting anything expensive.

Some hosts pay for the food and drinks, while other games collect a small amount of money from each player to cover the costs. Make sure to communicate this beforehand so you don’t have any confused players.

Best Snacks for your Poker Home Game

The snack spread is important and you won’t want to skimp here. Offer nuts, pretzels, and at least two varieties of candy. You don’t have to go crazy, but players will appreciate a small snack between hands, especially if your game goes late into the night.

Consider cleanliness when you make your choices. Think about what goes best with playing cards; avoid snacks that make hands messy.

Offer players a cup to keep their snacks in while they play. A napkin won’t be good enough. When it’s time to clean up the felt, you will thank yourself later.

Phil Hellmuth chows down
Phil Hellmuth would be lost without his snacks

Best Food/Meals for your Poker Home Game

If you want to step up your game and offer hot food, you have plenty of affordable choices that players will love.

The first and most obvious choice is pizza. With just one phone call, you can feed as many people as you want for a reasonable amount of money. You may also consider catering from a local restaurant. A large pan of pasta, chicken, or beef can go a long way, and it’s easy to serve during a poker game.

Be sure to have enough plates and napkins, especially for second and third servings, as the game runs late.

Setting the Time and Date for your Poker Home Game

Communicate with your group to determine the best time and date for your home game. You may be more likely to host a game on a weekend, but it would depend on the needs of your group.

You probably want to start in the early evening and allow space for players that arrive throughout the game. Prepare for the game to go all night until it breaks, or set a clear time limit.

Inviting People to your Poker Home Game

Most games will start off with a group of close friends or colleagues. It’s wise to create a group text or other central means of communication. This will allow you to keep a tally of how many people will be showing up and easily update your guests.

Exercise caution with your guest list. Players should be someone you know or someone that a close friend knows. If your game starts to grow, be all the more careful about who you invite to your game. Allow your guests to invite friends but with the same amount of caution.

Have a straightforward method of communication for guests to ask questions or get updates. If they want to invite a guest, make sure you set expectations on how and when they should ask.

Martin Kabrhel
Make sure you have a carefully curated guest list for your home game.

Tournament Vs Cash Game at your Poker Home Game

Depending on your preference, you will likely play a tournament or a cash game. In a tournament, players will start with a set amount of chips and play with increasing blinds until one player remains. In a cash game, players can buy in multiple times and for varying amounts.

Tournaments take time and require more planning, but they can be great competition at a fixed cost for your guests. Some players prefer an even playing field, and they want to manage their money with a fixed tournament fee versus the unlimited buy-ins of a cash game.

Cash games are more flexible, and players can leave when they choose. You may also have fewer losing players since tournaments only pay out a fixed percentage of the total entries. The casual atmosphere of a cash game is also more fun and relaxed for newer players.

In the end, it’s probably easier to run a cash game, so I would do that if it were the first time a group played together. As the group gets more acquainted, tournaments are a great way to mix it up.

Single-Table Tournaments v Multi-table Tournaments at your Poker Home Game

If you're with nine or fewer players, a single-table tournament will be your only option. It is also commonly referred to as a “sit and go,” and it’s popular among players who love the endgame of tournament play. They don’t take as long as their multi-table counterparts, so it’s possible you can even run more than one in a given night.

Multi-table tournaments require more players and planning, but the payoff is very satisfying. There’s nothing better than several poker tables running in one house simultaneously. The prize pool is bigger, and the stakes are higher, which adds to the fun. You can even run cash games or single-table tournaments on the empty tables as players get knocked out.

Check out some strategies from PokerNews for winning single table tournaments

Poker Home Game Basics -Top 5 Things to Get Started

A well-run game will require a thorough knowledge of the rules, as disputes will arise in even the most friendly games. You probably don’t need to memorize the entire Poker Tournament Directors Association handbook, but you should have a grasp on the hand rankings and other common rules that come up in poker games.

1. Learn the Rules of Texas Hold’em Poker

The goal of a Texas hold'em game is to use your hole cards in combination with the community cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand.

In a game of Texas hold'em, each player is dealt two cards face down. Over several betting rounds, five more cards are (eventually) dealt face-up in the middle of the table. These face-up cards are called the 'community cards.' Each player can use the community cards combined with their hole cards to build a five-card poker hand.

2. Learn the Poker Hand Rankings

In a game of poker, the hand rankings work as follows: a pair beats a high card; a two pair beats one pair; a three-of-a-kind beats two pair; a straight beats a three-of-a-kind; a flush beats a straight; a full house beats a flush; a four-of-a-kind beats a full house; a straight flush beats a four-of-a-kind; a Royal Flush beats a straight flush.

3. Use the PokerNews Poker Odds Calculator

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced veteran, a poker odds calculator can be a valuable tool for poker players. It can help you make more informed decisions during a hand by calculating the odds of various outcomes.

PokerNews Odds Calculator
The PokerNews Odds Calculator

Check out the PokerNews Odds Calculator

4. Choose your Poker Game Variant to Play

No-Limit hold’em is the most popular and well-known poker game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up at your home game. Try these poker variants if your group wants to go beyond the standard two-card game:

Omaha – Omaha plays just like hold’em, but players get four cards instead of two. The betting rounds are exactly the same, but the winner will be the player who can make the best hand using two of their hole cards and the community board. Omaha can be played with limits or as a pot-limit game, where players can bet the size of the pot at any time.

Stud games – Stud games are popular variants in which players are dealt cards face-up in addition to their hole cards. They’re played with betting limits and are popular as a casual game that new players can pick up on fast.

Draw games – Draw games give players five hole cards and a number of draws to make the best hand. Popular variants include five-card draw and 2-7 lowball. In lowball, players are trying to make the worst hand possible.

Consider having a dealer’s choice night where players can rotate their choice of games. It’s a great way to introduce players to new variants and keep your home game fresh.

5. Download the Poker Cheat Sheet

Download the PokerNews Poker Cheat Sheet for a handy PDF guide to hand rankings.

Top 5 Poker Home Game Strategies - Tips on How to Win Your Home Game

Several strategies can be employed to win consistently at home games. Players can be less experienced and more interested in having fun than turning a profit, so there are many opportunities for a sharp, experienced player.

Regardless of the strategy, it’s important to remember that home games should be fun. You don’t necessarily want to clean out your friends every single week. They will likely stop coming back.

How to Play Against Inexperienced Players

There are a few important things to remember when playing against novice players. In the end, they will be easier to beat, but they are also unpredictable. Check out five considerations for playing against novice players in your home game.

How to Take Advantage of Weak-Tight Opponents

Weak-tight opponents are a common site at a home game. They are less experienced and very protective of their chip stack. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take their money. Check out a few tips for taking advantage of weak-tight opponents in home games.

How to Beat Calling Stations

The bizarre cousin of the weak-tight home game player is the calling station. They live to pay off your flush, so stay patient and be ready to get value when the opportunity presents itself. Check out five ways to beat calling stations in your home game.

How to Beat Loose-Aggressive Players

The loose-aggressive player is going to throw around a lot of chips and that will be key to turning a profit at your home game. They are dangerous, unpredictable players, but they can be beaten. Check out a few tips for beating the loose-aggressive player at your home game.

Protect Yourself Against Cheating

Protect yourself from cheating at all times by remaining vigilant and staying informed of the telltale tale signs. Forms of cheating include chip snatching, card peeking, rigged shuffling, and collusion. Check out this guide to preventing collusion at your home game.

Online Poker Home Games - How to Setup/Play your Poker Home Game Online

PokerStars Home Games

PokerStars Home Games allow you to set up a private members club where you can play cash games and tournaments. All games can be for play money and real money, so you don't need to spend anything if you don't want to.

You can invite whoever you want and even keep track of tournament leaderboard standings.

How to set up PokerStars Home Games Online

Here is our quick and easy five-step guide to setting up a PokerStars Home Game of your own.

Download PokerStars

If you haven’t got a PokerStars account already, you need one, so download the software now and set up a new account.

Poker Etiquette - The Dos and Don’ts at your Poker Home Game

When you are slow rolling, angle shooting, tanking, of poor hygiene, berating, or being a bad tipper, you are displaying poor poker etiquette. There is a wide range of things to keep in mind when developing good social skills around the poker table, so even though poker home games often have a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere compared to professional settings, maintaining good etiquette is still important for ensuring everyone has an enjoyable experience.

Poker Home Games for Special Occasions

One of the best times to have a poker game is around the holidays when friends and family are in town. The social atmosphere of a poker table is a great way to catch up, and there’s the added benefit of winning money.

Thanksgiving Poker Home Games

Everyone returns home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and what better way to catch up than a cash game. Consider doing it on Wednesday, when everyone is in town and looking for something to do before the big day.

You can also have a game after the holiday and enjoy all of the leftovers. It’s a great way to avoid Black Friday shopping.

Invite your cousins and those old friends that you played with during the Moneymaker boom. The nostalgia will be too much to pass up.

Christmas Poker Home Games

It can be challenging to organize a game in the weeks before the Christmas holiday because everyone is budgeting for gifts and behaving responsibly. After the holiday, however, is one of the best times of the year to host a game. Work schedules are light, and the burden of gift-giving is behind everyone, so everyone is ready to open up the poker budget again.

Consider an evening of dealer’s choice in the days after Christmas. The holiday spirit will add to the fun.

Birthday Poker Home Games

If you are a poker fan, you may want to host a cash game or a tournament for your birthday. It can be a much better alternative to an expensive dinner or a night out on the town, and much like the other holidays, you have the added benefit of winning money.

It can be your birthday or someone else's, but it’s a great way to get a group together and celebrate another milestone.

New Year Poker Home Games

The new year is generally considered a party holiday, but once you grow to a certain age, you and your friends will likely prefer to stay in. Hosting a game on New Year’s is a great way to countdown to midnight with your friends.

New Year’s Day is another excellent option. Make sure to have multiple TVs to show the football games. Consider other variants and side pots for high hands to mix it up before midnight.

Club PokerNews - Play the PokerNews Home Game Online

Club PokerNews

Club PokerNews is the one-stop hub where you can access an array of added value from many of our partners. From exclusive poker freeroll passwords and special poker offers to private PokerNews events, take advantage of all the benefits at Club PokerNews.

Check out the PokerNews Home Games group on the PokerStars Home Games platform, and keep an eye out for PokerNews tournaments and cash games throughout the year.

How to Play Strip Poker

It may sound like something that belongs in a movie from the 1980s, but strip poker is still a pastime enjoyed by many worldwide. There is even a PokerNews guide to strip poker with helpful tips for doing it yourself.

The general rules of poker are the same, but the twist in strip poker is that the losing hand (or hands) must remove an article of clothing. This ensures that people who are bad at poker end up naked.

Believe it or not, it’s perfectly legal for consenting adults.

Poker Home Games FAQs

What is a poker home game?

Poker home games are a popular way for friends and family to gather and enjoy a friendly game of poker.

How do you set up a poker game at home?

Buy your supplies, invite your friends, and use our handy PokerNews Home Games guide to maximize the fun.

Do you need a Dealer for poker home games?

In most home games, the role of the dealer rotates among the players, changing with each hand. Some groups may choose to have a dedicated dealer.

How can I practice poker at home?

You can practice poker at home by playing online or organizing a game with friends.

What types of poker can be played in poker home games?

Most commonly, Texas Hold'em is the go-to game for poker home games, but you can also play Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, or other poker variants depending on the players' preferences.

How do we determine the stakes in our home game?

Stakes should be agreed upon by all players before the game starts. Depending on the group's comfort level, they can range from friendly, low-stakes games to higher stakes.

How should you distribute chips in your poker Home Game?

If it's a tournament, be sure to set the blinds and give players enough to start. Determine before the tournament starts if there will be rebuys and add-ons. If it's a cash game, simply distribute chips based on how much the player buys in for.

How do we handle Buy-ins and Payouts in poker home games?

Decide on a buy-in amount before starting. Payouts can be structured based on the number of players and preference, typically with the top few players receiving a portion of the total pot.

What are the rules for betting and raising in poker home games?

Establish clear betting rules, including the minimum and maximum bet, raise limits, and whether you're playing with a no-limit, pot-limit, or fixed-limit structure.

How long should a home game of poker last?

How long a poker home game lasts should depend on the players' preferences. Some games last a couple of hours, while others can go on much longer. It's good to have a general consensus on the expected duration.

Can you host a poker home game online?

There are several ways to host an online home game, including the PokerStars Home Games platform.

Can you play poker online with friends for free?

The PokerStars Home Games platform offers free chips when you sign up. It's also free to create a group or a club.

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Live Reporting Executive

Las Vegas-based PokerNews Live Reporting Executive, originally from Chicago, IL