What Is a Great Home Poker Game Setup?

A list of everything you need for your home poker game setup. From the cardroom ambiance to the chip distribution, food, and cards, we list it all.

What Is a Great Home Poker Cash Game Setup?
What Is a Great Home Poker Game Setup?

Hosting your own poker game at your house or living space is a rewarding endeavor that leads to memorable moments. To make sure your friends, family, and co-workers have fun at your poker night, we list out what you need to have for your home poker game setup in this article.

Setup The Equipment

Naturally, when wondering how to run a home poker cash game (or tournament), the first things to put together are the equipment and supplies (poker table, mat, chips, cards, buttons, and accessories).

For every home poker game, you need to have five essential pieces of equipment in your living space. While you only need just three of these items, we are aiming for the poker home setup that makes guests feel like they are in Atlanta City. We will cover the bare essentials for each piece of equipment as well as ones to consider for high-end poker sessions.

Install a Poker Table Top & Felt

Any poker game requires a decent flat table while its size determines how many players can play in each round. Dining tables are a versatile choice for home game setup since there is one in most households.

When you want to make a strong impression among your guests, consider a poker felt fabric table for your games. Felt tables not only look or feel good among poker enthusiasts, they also make it easy for cards to glide across the table. High quality felts or the ones you see in world-class card rooms have a fabric ratio of 80% cotton and 20% polyester.

Have Enough Poker Chips

Cardrooms and official poker tournaments use poker chips in all of their games for several reasons. Players can easily determine their own bankroll with just a glance. Poker chips can also avoid game lags caused by counting the bet amount when anyone raises or calls a bet.

You can easily find a poker chip set with different denominations across hobby shops or online stores. While there are branded chips available, a good way of splurging on this equipment is to consider customized poker chips. Regardless of the poker chips you buy, you need to have more than enough for your guests to use in your games.

poker chips value and denomination by color
Values and denominations of poker chips by color.

Prepare The Buttons

Buttons are useful indicators on which player is the current dealer of the round as well as show other people’s position. You only need one button to show who is in the dealer position while big blind and small blind buttons clarify who needs to cover specific blinds.

Like poker chips, you can find a wide range of poker buttons with unique designs, patterns, and decals such as ones made to look like casino poker chips. Consider adding a “kill” button if you are planning on running a Kill poker game to indicate which players are posting an over blind.

Use Premium Plastic Poker Playing Cards

Traditional paper poker cards are sufficient for poker nights held once a month or a few times a year. If you are looking at hosting card games more than twice a week, you will want to use plastic playing cards for their durability.

Plastic playing cards last 50 times more than paper cards even after it goes through several shuffles and hands in one night. Card stains and marks are rarely a problem with plastic playing cards since they are washable. Handling and shuffling plastic playing cards is also easier thanks to the card’s material, giving your guests a better poker night experience.  

Setup The Rules

Your guests will likely accept your invitation to your poker game if they know what variants and structure you will be using for the night. Potential players also need to know the schedule and period of your games to know if they are available at that time. Let us go over the rules to help create a strong foundation for your poker night.

Poker Variant

From the classic Texas Hold’Em to the complex deuce-to-seven lowball, you have several variants to use for your poker cash game setup at home. One common mistake a host would make is to use a variant without considering their guests’ preference or experience (some poker variants are extremely difficult for newcomers).

Newcomers as well as many professional players tend to stick with familiar variants such as five-card draw or the made-for-TV Texas Hold’Em. If you have regulars who want a change of pace, consider using uncommon variants like H.O.R.S.E. You can also have a setup where the variants change every two to three hours to keep veterans and beginners engaged.

Structure & Schedule

Use the average risk acceptance among your guests as your basis for the structure of your poker games such as the buy-in rate, blinds increase, and use of an ante. Buy-ins should be considered carefully as this could break the experience among your guests if someone can rebuy immediately after losing an all-in bet. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum round requirement before a player can rebuy their entry to a game.

Set the period or start/end schedule of your cash poker game before deciding on the variants and structure. Your schedule will determine how many changes to the poker variants and increases in blinds/ante can occur in one session.

Basics Rules

Ground rules are essential to keep your poker game home setup enjoyable for everyone involved. Several rules to consider are the show-one show-all ruling, the volume of a person’s reaction to any situation, the use of strong language, and how long a player can take to play. Apart from the basic, two factors you want to consider.

Buy-Ins & Rebuys

When money exchange hands, players will have a hard time keeping track of how much money a person has at stake. Having someone log each transaction in your card game setup will help you avoid any complaints or misunderstandings when everyone is cashing out. Transactions include buy-ins at the start of the game and rebuys during the middle of the session.

Hosts of any home poker game setup are expected to act as the bookkeeper for the night. If you are busy handling other tasks or are also participating in your games, consider assigning someone who is not playing poker.

Arbitration

At some point, an unexpected situation may happen during a game such as a player showing someone their card or not stating the correct bet amount when raising. A majority of these scenarios tend to occur by accident. However, you cannot discount the possibility of someone doing these “mistakes” intentionally.

You need to have a person who is not playing in the current round to decide the outcome of any unexpected situations. They also have to be familiar with poker rules, game etiquette, and possible cheating methods to pass a fair and sound ruling. Rotating the role of arbiter amongst your guests and yourself ensure everyone has an opportunity to play.

Setup The Mood

Memorable poker setups at home come down to the details such as what is served on the refreshment table. Here are ways you can set the mood to make everyone feel like they visiting Caesars for the weekend.

Party Food & Drinks

Long poker nights call for enough food and drinks to keep your guests satiated for the whole session. Classic options include all kinds of finger food that anyone can carry in small bows such as cocktail franks, sliders, onion rings, and tater tots. You can achieve a higher level of finger food by having a sandwich buffet where everyone gets their choice of savory and sweet filling.

Consider setting a kitty amount for your home setup, which is a portion of the pot that your guests agree upon for buying refreshments. Another way is to ask your guests to bring their own food and drinks as a form of pot luck poker night.  

Background Music

Three kinds of ambiance music used for their home poker setup. One with the loud rap, rock, or country music where people have to raise their voice to be heard. Second kind of background music is where the music is too subtle that no one would notice it. You want to go for one that sets the tone of your setup without interfering with everyone’s game such as blues, classy hip-hop, and mainstream pop.

Take note of your sound system as well. A robust speaker that spreads your background music across the room can create the right ambiance such as JBL speaker bars or Creative’s 5.1 sound system.

Alcohol Consumption

Poker nights are all about having fun, making the session a good place for drinks. Be wary that alcohol and money is never a good mix since it can lead to violent and regrettable actions. Set a drink limit for your guest during your poker home setup to avoid any problems caused by alcohol.

Tae into consideration the drivers among your guest or those who require a ride to get home. Arrange a method of transportation for those who require a ride such as a carpool with a designated driver. If a driver who bought their own car intentionally or unintentionally drank throughout the night, set a taxi service for them at the end of your session while keeping their keys.

Play & Have a Good Time!

At the end of the day, your aim is to give your guests a good time with your home poker setup. Do not be pressured by anyone when deciding on buy-in amounts or the use of complex poker variants. Use poker rules and structures that you and most of your guests find comfortable.

See how others prepare for a home poker game!

For equipment and other items, only buy ones that are within your budget. Only splurge on felt poker tables or high-end sound systems if you can afford it and are planning on more than two poker nights per week. When money is tight, your dining table, playing cards, generic chips, and some sandwiches are all you need for a great poker night.

While having the best equipment and other creature comforts is recommended, a great poker night is all about considering your guests’ interests and setting house rules to keep the session fun for everyone. We hope this article was useful to help you understand how to setup a home poker game.