Here’s my top 10:
10. The room is focused on the game. No TV in the background or other folks passing through. If that’s a tricked-out man cave… great. However, it can be almost any room. The key is to limit distractions.
9. Plenty of food and drink. I prefer either a potluck or everyone chip-in and order out. Poker without at least drinks, if not snacks, is like a trip to the bathroom with nothing to read. See rule 5.
8. I prefer the same one or two dealers the whole time. Let’s face it, people possess different levels of shuffling and dealing skill. Passing the shuffle to the next guy who just got up for a drink and then gives it a couple of shuffles before a chaotic deal can be agonizingly slow and irritating. The key is to keep the game moving. Nothing keeps a game moving faster than the same dealer using a built-in card shuffling machine. Plus, without shuffling becomes no big chore for the lone dealer. Most people get a little tired of dealing after a while, but not with a shuffler.
7. Depending on the group, consider playing for a cause. It feels great to give back and it’s easy to do. I suggest players cash out for half of what they would otherwise get and the host sends the other half to a worthy cause. With this agreed upon up-front, everyone can feel like they’re helping out. Consider a non-profit in your own town, maybe one struggling with the COVID19 pandemic. That way, even the losers are winners! Pro Tip: It might also help you get more players.
6. Start early. Just because most games are Friday or Saturday nights, doesn’t mean that your average player wants to stay up til the wee hours of the morning playing. To get in maximum play, start around 6:00.
5. If you start at 6:00 or “dinner time” as I like to call it, consider ordering pizza or having a make your own sandwich buffet. The easiest way to swing that is everyone kick in and order delivery. In any case, you can’t have people playing at dinner time and have nothing that looks like dinner. That game will be over quickly. Also, Have a wide variety of beverages. That means alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Not everyone likes to get hammered or even drink any alcohol. I know, weird. Of course, for those who do enjoy getting pleasantly pickled, make sure there’s enough liquid ammo for even your most crapulent friend. Again, you might want to take up a collection to help defray the cost. You could even toss a chip or two out of every pot to cover food and drinks.
4. Provide the most comfortable space possible. If that’s your kitchen table with all the usual chairs at a formica table, then that’s what it is. Most people are much happier playing at a cool table, with good cards and comfortable chairs.
3. Don’t invite notorious drunks, unless that leaves no one left to invite. One guy getting ready to talk to the toilet in a room of mostly sober people is just irritating. It screws up the flow of the game and can really be a distraction. So, try to get players who are all about slightly above the lowest common denominator in LoLI… Level of Likely Inebriation.
2. I also suggest staying away from poor losers. It should be that everyone views playing, even losing, as entertainment - not as a serious setback to get all wound up about. This may also help screen out extreme trash talkers. That can get old too. The Venn Diagram for the these two groups has a lot of overlap.
1. Have fun and remember… it’s just a game. You’re there to have fun and make memories. Set a buy-in that everyone can easily afford and have a great time! Don’t forget, BBO offers instant approval financing options to reduce your monthly cost to something somewhat more than almost nothing. What could be easier?