What makes the perfect poker night in? It starts with great friends and a top venue. But once you’ve got those two essentials out of the way, there are some simple ingredients that help make your night as fun as possible. From chips, dips, drinks, and poker visors to knowing what type of game you’re playing, these are the essentials to the perfect poker night in – and there’s not a dog in sight.
Chips, dips, drinks, and poker visors
Few things are won in life on an empty stomach and poker is no different. Depending on how many players you have and how quickly you play, your poker night could last hours – ending in the early hours of the morning.
Speaking from experience, you will get hungry and thirsty, you won’t want to pause the game as that disrupts the flow.
Having a ready supply of chips, dips, and drinks to keep your poker playing at its peak. I love to have a large bag of Kettle chips by my side at all times, and a beverage (alcoholic and/or non-alcoholic) close by. And the visors? It’s all about the pageantry, baby!
Good quality playing cards to avoid mucking your hand
It sounds meaningless; after all, aren’t all playing cards created equal? No is the short, sharp, and serious answer.
Your cards have an impact on the speed you can play poker, the legitimacy of the table’s hands, and your ability to protect your hand – trust me, a bad deck of cards caused me to deal myself an ace face-up, meaning I had to throw it away…
Clarity on which version of poker you’re playing
You might think ‘it’s poker, that’s the game I’m playing!’ But it’s not as straightforward as that. Though Texas hold 'em is the most popular version of poker, it’s just one of many different ways you can play – Omaha, stud, and pai gow are just three of the other popular types of poker.
Make sure you’re well-schooled in the list of poker variants, know the rules, and then decide to play Texas hold 'em – it is the best one, I promise!
A list of the poker hand values on the table
Let’s be honest, not everyone sat at your table is fully versed in the rules of poker.
Now, your buddies may say they are, and you may believe them, but (speaking from experience) if there are more than four people in your game then one of them won’t know if a straight beats a flush. Having a list of the poker hand values on the table gives everyone a chance to keep on top of the value of their hand.
Putting a list of the different hands on the table isn’t only about being fair to the inexperienced players, it also means the experienced players get a better read on their opponents – if people know what they’re doing then you can guess the strength of their play easier.
Someone to keep the game running smoothly
In poker, your administrator is the person in charge of keeping the game ticking over smoothly.
Why do you need someone to keep the game running? So that hands don’t take an age to deal or play, and you get as many of them in as possible.
In a live casino, you have a dealer to keep control of the game, while in an online casino the game software has a dealer function built into it. Depending on the type of poker game you’re playing, you may be playing against the dealer – for example, pai gow is played against the dealer using a 53 deck of cards. If you’re playing against the dealer then they’ll certainly have an interest in keeping the game running smoothly!
An array of top-notch tunes for the ambience
Yes, this has nothing to do with the game of poker, but it has EVERYTHING to do with the ambience for you perfect poker night in – remember, one of the main reasons your playing poker tonight is that you want to enjoy yourself, and top-notch tunes certainly help with this.
Agreement on whether you’re playing cash or tournament
While there are many versions of poker, poker games fall into two categories – they’re either cash games or they’re tournaments. Both cash and tournament are great ways of playing poker, but there are significant differences between the two, and it’s important you check which is best for your fellow gamers.
In cash games, the chips you play with have a precise numerical value – for example, if you’re using a £1 chip, that’s how much it’s worth to you. Cash games also allow people to cash out at any time and let players rebuy into the game if they bust out – so your game lasts as long as it wants to. The blind levels stay the same throughout the game in cash.
In tournaments, each player buys in for the same amount and has the same number of starting chips. Once a player is knocked out, that’s it, they’re gone and you get paid once the final player takes all the chips – so games last until one person wins. The blind levels in tournaments increase after a certain time period, such as every 20 minutes.
Poker is a brilliant game, one based on skill and laced with luck. While these ingredients are all perfect for a night in playing poker, they’re just the things that I tend to abide by – you might have your own essentials that you’ll add to mine. What’s most important is that you have fun...