There are many factors to be considered when planning to host a home poker game. Many of the finer points, such as blinds, starting chip stacks and payout percentages have no hard and fast rules, but with experience you will get better at planning and your home games will improve. Below is a list of things to think about when planning your first home game.
When, Where and What time? This may seem a bit too obvious, but it is often underlooked when people plan their first home game. It's often hard to find a day when all your mates that you want at the game will be free to play. To help aviod this, you should organise your game at least a couple of days in advance.
What Game? There are many different types of poker, from the popular holdem to stud, draw or omaha, when just starting out, you should choose a game thats easy to learn, and that you think everyone will enjoy. That game is most cases is Holdem, as people will most likely have seen it on TV and will be itching to play it, this is what we play at our home games.
What Game Type? There are two different sorts of structures, Tournaments and Ring games, in ring games the blinds (or antes) are fixed and the chips on the table represent actual dollar values. Players can buyin for any amout over the minimum and can rebuy or leave at any time. In Tournaments the blindes and antes go up as the game goes on, and chips represent 'tournament money,' payouts are distributed as different %'s of the total of all buyins, depending on what place you were knocked out. *I will asume a tournament structure for the rest of this guide*
Buy-ins? This all depends on how much you and your players can afford to lose, and that depends on your situation- be it student, company ceo, working, part time worker or bum. When your just starting out its tempting to make the buy-ins high because that will mean more money in the pot, however your mates, who have never played before will be reluctant to put too much money on the line. I recommend starting off at $5, however it is totally up to you.
Re-buys? Re buys occur when a player runs out of chips and is then allowed to pay a certain amount (usually equal to original buyin) to get another stack of chips equal to the starting stack. In our home games we often have: one rebuy per person in the first hour, which means if a player busts out in the first hour of the tourny, they can buy back in and not have to sit and watch. Be mindful that if rebuys are allowed the tournament will go for longer and players will likely play a lot looser during the rebuy period- this means more suckouts
Starting Stack: This depends on many things including: the number of each chip colour you have, your blind structure, the time your have for the tournament and how much like high rollers you want to feel. A good starting stack amount is about 1500 in tournament chips.
Blind Structure: The blind structure for your tournament determines how fast the blinds go up, and how much they go up by each time. The latter should be proportionate to your 'starting stack,' while the former depends on how many people in your tournament and how long you want the game to go for.
Equipment: You will obvioulsy need chairs for everybody (make sure you have enough, theres nothing worse than your mates arriving and your realise you don't have enough seats). You will need a table to play on, the kitchen table will do fine, however you can purchase a table top (goes on top of a card table) from ebay or k-mart for about 50 bucks. Poker Chips are a great asset to your home poker game because they give it a great professional feel. Poker Chips of different qualities can be purchased from ebay, fellas, cunnos, k-mart, smokemark and more for between 20 bucks and 200 bucks. Cards- any full 52 card decks will do fine (jokers not needed), you can purchase high quality cards on ebay for about 30 bucks for two packs. You can get some casino cards from skycity for 3 bucks a deck or you can get some bendy plastic cards from many different shops for about 1 buck a pack- these don't last very long but are great because they will survive beer being spilt on them and are easier to shuffle and peek at your hole cards with.
Payouts: This depends on what sort of payout emphasis you want. Do you want all the emphasis on the winner- ie. winner takes all, or 2nd gets money back and winner takes the rest. I think a flatter prize structure is better because it'll make people want to keep coming back to your game. For ten people the payouts are generally structured at- 1st- 50%, 2nd- 30%, 3rd- 20%
Food and Drinks: At our games we often get everybody to bring something that we share, you can also get the host to provide food and everybody chips in, or whatever you want.
Anything Else? If you can think of anything else for planning a home game then please post it in comments
Check out these links for more on Home Games:
Home Poker Games
Home Poker Tourny