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Hosting A Game

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The boys have been doing it for years, and now finally girls are doing it in greater numbers, too: hosting a home poker night. It’s a great opportunity to get a group of your girlfriends together for some good conversation and female bonding, which women rarely get an opportunity to do. With some preparation, you’ll find that it’s easy to host a poker night and your friends will enjoy a great night out with the girls.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure it’s legal to have poker nights (where you’re playing for real money) in your area. Once that’s sorted, you need to decide what kind of party you want to throw. Do you want an excuse for the girls to get dressed up to the nines? Then make it formal. Or do you want to keep it casual? If you’re planning on hosting a weekly or monthly event, then most likely you’ll want it to be casual.

You also need to consider how many girls you want to invite. If you’re playing Seven-Card Stud, you can’t have more than 7 players, while Texas Hold ‘em is best with 6 to 10. If you’re playing Dealer’s Choice, stick with 5 to 7 people.

Lastly, you need to establish the buy-in and stakes. If your girlfriends are mostly beginner and novice players, don’t set the buy-in and stakes too high they’re not going to have a good time and want to play again if they lose a lot of money. Normally $10 to $50 is the buy-in (how much money you have to bring with you in order to play) with $1, $2 and $4 stakes (the minimum and maximum betting values).

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After you choose what kind of night you want to host, select a date and send invitations to your friends. Evite.com is an excellent online invitation site and they even have poker-themed invites. It’s a great site to manage your RSVPs, too. Use them once for an event and you’ll be hooked. The best thing about evite.com is that it’s free!

Supplies

You’ll need to have a few items on hand in order to host a game. A more realistic, Las Vegas-like experience doesn’t need to cost a fortune if you follow our tips below:

• Poker chips

If you’re going to spend any money on poker supplies, you don’t want to skimp on the chips. More than any other item, quality clay chips will make your game more authentic. Chips weighing between 7.5 to 13.5 grams and made of clay or clay composite will feel the best, and if you shop around, you can buy about 500 chips for $100. If you’re planning on hosting several nights, this is a great investment that your guests will appreciate.

The minimum number of chips you should play with is 35 per person, but 50 to 100 is ideal. If you have a lot of new players, you should keep the denominations of the chips to just one or two values $1 and $2 are the most common. If you want to mimic the casinos, go by their chip breakdown:

$1 white
$2 red
$5 blue
$25 green
$100 black

• Playing cards/deck

You should play with two decks and since they’re so cheap, it is a good idea to start the game with a brand new deck. Decks that have been used show signs of wear, which the players can memorize to help them identify their opponents’ hands. To avoid this and keep the playing field level, use brand new decks that are harder, if not impossible, to read. By playing with two decks, one can be shuffled while the other one is in play this keeps the game moving at a good pace and cuts down on waiting for the cards to be shuffled.

Poker table

If you have the budget and room for a poker table, by all means go out and buy one. But if you don’t, buy some green felt fabric from your local fabric store and either cut it to custom-fit your table or buy enough to hang over the edge. It’ll remind your friends of playing in a casino and will enhance your game’s atmosphere.

• Dealer button

You can buy one, but it’s not necessary. You can designate any item to be the dealer button, so don’t spend money on one unless you absolutely feel the need to buy one. It is much more interesting to use something other than some plastic dealer button (like a rhinestone-encrusted brooch). This is a great opportunity to use your creativity.

• Food

This is extremely important you can’t, or, rather, shouldn’t host a poker night without serving your girlfriends food. Poker can be a mentally exhausting game and most people rely on food to keep them alert during your event. You can do a pot luck (where everyone invited brings a different dish) or cook the food yourself. If you have a weekly or monthly girls’ poker night, it’s recommended that you pick one or two people to supply the food for one night and that you rotate through all of the regular players for subsequent nights. Visit Martha Stewart’s web site and search for ‘poker’ to find some great-tasting, poker-themed recipes.

• Drinks

Obviously you need to consider your guests’ and the general public’s safety when it comes to serving alcohol: don’t let your friends drive drunk! If drinks are to be served, make sure everyone has a safe ride home before the party even starts. That said, drinks are always a good addition to any poker night. You can serve martinis, mixed drinks, beer, wine, pop anything goes! It’s fun to pick one or two mixed drinks recipes that you’ll serve everybody just make sure you have all of the ingredients!

The game

You can play any way you want! Dealer’s Choice is when whoever’s dealing gets to pick what card game everyone is going to play for that hand. It keeps the game interesting and is good for people who want to improve their skills by playing different games. (A good poker player is well-rounded and not a ‘specialist’ of any one game.) Or your friends may want to play one game only, such as Texas Hold ‘em. If you have a lot of new players, playing just one game they all know is probably a good idea. Go through two hands before the game starts to make sure everyone knows how to play. If you’re really organized and have very new players, print off a list of the poker hands hierarchy that they can refer to during the game.

If you want to improve your skills or are brand new to the game and want to learn before you host a party (or attend one), you should definitely start playing online poker. The quick hand turnover means lots of practice much more than you could get playing live. Also, there are lots of sites that offer free tables, which is ideal for new players, and free teaching tools to help you learn how to play. Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker are highly recommended for their teaching tools and busy tables you’ll never have to wait for people to sit at your table.

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