March 20, 2017
How To Host a Poker Night Out

Every six months or so, we host a gentleman’s poker night at our office. We've been doing it for awhile now, inviting various friends to join us for a night of merry making. 

Hosting a card game has numerous benefits.

  • Fellowship among friends both old and new
  • An opportunity to potentially win some money
  • The chance to make new friends
  • Business opportunities and networking

Whether you host a game once a month, bimonthly or even just annually, getting together with a group of friends is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening, if it’s done well. 

One of the biggest challenges in finding people to play in your game is that many people who don’t play poker regularly – or at all – may feel discouraged to attend or may send regrets simply because they worry about being embarrassed, losing their hard-earned money to a more experienced player, or simply have never played and worry about holding the game back. Unless you happen to be a professional poker player, the vast majority of your friends, colleagues and family members won’t be overly experienced. There may be a few that are, but those are the ones the average player worries about.

If you have some friends that you really think would enjoy a night of camaraderie and fellowship, it’s important to make sure they feel comfortable about attending. After all, etiquette is all about making those around us feel at ease.

Here are a few tips to encourage new players to come out:

  1. Open your home an hour before the game so new players can come and learn with an open hand and become acquainted with the rules of the game.
  2. Explain that they aren’t the only one. That many of the players attending won’t be any more experienced than they are and that the point of the night is to have fun.
  3. Set the betting parameters ahead of time. Place bet limits accordingly based on the attendees comfort level. 
  4. Don’t pressure someone to attend, but instead suggest they pop by just to enjoy a drink. If they don’t feel compelled to play, they might decide last minute to buy-in. 

So long as there is little pressure, most people will come around. A big tip is to invite friends from various circles, so there is a wide range of personalities. This gives the other players a chance to meet a new friend perhaps, or gain a business contact.


What You Need To Host A Game

Hosting a poker night can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. When we started hosting these games, we didn’t have the ability to provide food, drinks, cigars or pay for the event supplies. It was just a simple gathering of friends playing together. 

Low Budget (Under $100

Aside from the actual location and a table, you’ll need the following:

  • A deck or two of sealed playing cards (all plastic, not paper)
  • Poker chips
  • Basic snacks such as chips, popcorn, pretzels, candy, etc…
  • Non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, water, energy drinks, etc…

Have the guests bring any alcohol they wish to consume. Most guests won’t mind, and if you’re offering a place to smoke cigars, you can simply leave that option available by saying “Cigar Smoking permitted outside,” or in a specific room. 


If you do plan to offer alcohol, you can offer the very basics if you’re working with a budget:

A selection of beers is best, but you can always just offer one kind. A good selection will consist of light and dark beers. You could also offer a selection of craft beer or flavoured beer if you really want to have a variety.

Wine is something you may want to consider offering but doesn’t typically get consumed as much as hard liquor and beer. However, it never hurts to have a few bottles of white or red for your guests. If budget is a concern, wine is easily something that can be left off the menu. It’s nice to have, but not necessary.

Hard liquor tends to be the most widely consumed liquor at any of the poker games we've hosted. Whether it’s because people think of James Bond when they play poker or because they truly enjoy a hard drink, having a selection of spirits is always a good idea.

Of course, you can offer a full bar, but if you’re not interested in spending the money or losing the alcohol already in your collection, we suggest a few bottles of whisky, a bottle of vodka or a bottle of gin (depending on the number of players involved).


Hosting a poker tournament doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, the simpler the evening, the better the results. Cash games can be fun, but you run the risk of attracting a smaller crowd due to budgets. Often, it’s the guy with the biggest bankroll that can run the game. That’s why we recommend a set buy-in and re-buy with everyone receiving equal chips. The game remains fair and everyone leaves knowing they had a chance to win with no hard feelings. The most basic poker game doesn’t need to cost any more than $100 to host. Even if you only host one once a year, it will be an event all of your friends will look forward to.

Jeremiah Lam

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