Poker Party Ideas for the Perfect Poker Night

by Mike_W

Poker parties way are the perfect way to keep in touch with your friends. Read on to find out some poker party ideas as well as advice on how to throw the perfect poker night.

The sad but occasionally satisfying truth is that at some point most of us must move on from consequence-free adventures and drunken parties and onto a more structured existence, whether it be because of career, family or for the simple fact that everyone else has. That’s not to say your life is void of friends and fun, but you do need to make it happen. A regular poker party night with the boys can be the perfect antidote.

At the risk of offensive generalization, the fairer sex seems to be content with book clubs and knitting circles. It’s not for me, and if you’ve read this far it’s probably not for you either. Poker parties can be a fun, low-maintenance and quick way to keep in touch with all your old friends. It’s not really about the money, it’s more about revelry, bragging rights and of course ribbing your mates. Catching up for sports game works too, but there is usually less banter, at least to each other, and unless you have the draw available for the next month or two, it is a little harder to organize far in advance.

Playing poker has taken off over the last ten years. Thanks to televised poker tournaments and poker websites, a certain professionalism has snuck into a previously fun game. Even amateurs seem to know all the jargon and win-percentages, previously saved only for professionals and know-it-alls. This has certainly added an edge to the friendly poker night, but you still can’t beat it for your monthly get together with your mates.

Read on to find out some poker party ideas as well as advice on, not only on how to throw the perfect poker night, but how to make it a regular occurrence.

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What to play and how

There are many different types of poker, such as Texas hold 'em, five-card draw, or five and seven-card stud. Texas hold 'em seems to work best for poker parties because of its speed, ease of dealing, anticipation and strategy. However, the game can also be mixed up over the course of the poker night. For example, the dealer could announce their game of choice before they deal. This can be fun too, but poker buffs will probably prefer to stick to Texas hold 'em for the course of the evening.

This article won’t deal with the rules or strategy for playing poker. For those new to the game it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the rules. Check out one of the many websites or books dedicated to it. You could also just learn as you play and hope for some beginner’s luck, but don’t expect your friends to go easy on you.

How to Play Texas Holdem Video

Mix Up the Poker Night Hosting Duties

To keep the poker night sustainable, rotate the hosting duties. That way each person may only have to host once or twice a year. This keeps it cheap, low stress and ensures hosts take some pride in doing a good job. The host should provide nibbles but the guests should bring their own beverages. At the end of the evening the current host can give the poker chips to the next host.

Make it a rule that the poker night host has to provide one or two brand new packs of cards for the night. This ensures the evening starts with a full, clean deck and reduces the chances of no one having any cards to play with

It’s not about the money

Your poker night really shouldn’t be about the money, it should be about the social experience, keeping in touch and bragging rights. As you and your friends make your way in life it’s inevitable that some are going to have more money than others. To avoid alienating anyone it’s better to keep the buy-ins low. The good news is that if you make it winner take all, then the triumphant player will still line his pockets enough to buy a few beers and lunch all week.

It is also a good idea to have the person in second place get their money back. Coming second in a poker night is almost as painful as coming dead last. Getting their buy-in back is small consolation but at least it’s something.

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Aggressively raise the blinds and have a finish time

It’s quicker and levels the field

In a social poker night, a quick game is a good game. With a fair and transparent blind raising process the whole game can be over in three hours or so. The blind is the minimum amount players have to put in the kitty to take part in the hand.   Announce the blind raises at the beginning of the evening, usually doubling them every 45 minutes. You would be surprised how long a player can survive in the death throes of having minimal chips. A pending blind raise forces them to take a few more risks.

In an amateur poker game it can literally take hours for the final two or three players to battle it out to decide a victor. By having a concrete finish time the poker night duration can be better managed. A final chip count at the end of the evening will decide the first or second place. It is unlikely to come to this, because as the dreaded deadline approaches, the person in second place will get more and more desperate, eventually forcing an outcome one way or the other.

Set the ground rules

These days most people know the rules of poker and the winning hand hierarchy. Certainly after a couple of poker nights everyone has the hang of it. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a rule sheet around with the hierarchy just in case, as well as a few ground rules.

One situation that needs to be addressed before the night begins is what to do with a card that gets accidentally flipped over during dealing. This inevitably happens a few times a game, as does a short deck where people have forgotten to give their old cards back. How much angst this causes generally depends on how good the hands are that have already been dealt.

The best way to deal with this is to have a re-deal, but this ground rule should be stated at the start or on your rule sheet.

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Throwing the Perfect Poker Night: Some Practical Advice

Have a fresh pack of cards ready.

The cards deteriorate quickly – beer, nibbles and tantrums tend to have that effect. Have a fresh deck on standby so you can replace them. 

Figure out a system to get rid of the empties.

You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll be swimming in empty beer vessels when six or so guys sit in one place for a couple of hours. Not having bottles or cans everywhere gives you more space, less clutter and make things look better during the evening, not to mention reducing clean up time at the end of the night.

Have a recycle bin within arm’s reach so you can casually throw the empty bottles or cans in as they become available. Don’t forget to line the bin with a bag to protect your floor from beer remnants.

Get the numbers right

Try not to have too few or too many poker players. A game with only three or four players can be pretty lame, and too many players will create logistical issues if you have to go to two tables.

A good number is between five and eight.

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What you must have for hosting a poker night:

  • Poker Chips with Dealer Token
  • One or Two Brand New Packs of cards
  • Nibbles
  • Have a rules sheet handy of what beats what.

Poker Party Ideas

Buy backs only after during the first hour

The eternal question of whether early cast outs should be allowed back into the game is a tricky one. On one hand, it makes for a very boring night if you are eliminated in the first half hour. On the other hand, allowing people to buy back in can encourage reckless behavior early in the game, knowing there is a safety net.

A compromise is to limit the time, amount and number of buy backs. For example, only allow up to two people to buy back in, and only for the hour and for half of the original chips allocation.


Make sure you rotate the dealer

This is imperative in a game of poker, because your order on the table is of the utmost importance. It’s better to rotate the dealer anyway, because it stops one person getting bogged down in the role. Have a dealer chip, and just move it clockwise after every hand.

Updated: 09/14/2012, Mike_W
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Poker Party Ideas and Comments

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Mike_W on 09/15/2012

Thanks for the comment Katie. Yep, it doesn't take too long to get the hang of it, but poker can be quite addictive!

katiem2 on 09/15/2012

My gal pals love poker night. I wasn't that good when I first started but am a bit of a card shark now. Great poker night ideas. I'm going to use some of these. :)K

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