You have viewed poker on TV, perhaps played it on the internet, or even in a casino. Now you are ready to try to host your own poker tournament at home in your own game room or basement. Hosting your own poker tourney is much more personable than playing poker on the internet. The smack talk, the cross table body language, the feel of the cards in your hands, and the sound of the cards being shuffled are all great aspects of playing poker at home. Best of all may be the great feeling you have inside when you take down a huge pot of chips or make a great play and get some praise from your buddies. Of course, a badly run poker tournament at home can be a huge headache. So make sure yours is run right and your players will consistently return to your basement for your future poker tournaments.
To run an effective poker tournament competition at home you need a high quality poker table, some top quality poker cards, clay poker chips, some kind of blinds timer clock, and a strategy. Sure you can host a tourney with some cheap cards and chips, but our objective here is to make it feel like a casino experience so your friends will continue to return and play in the future.
A high quality professional felt poker table makes your poker experience that much better but it will also be one of your biggest cash investments. If you do not have a high quality professional felt poker table and do not have the budget for one you can still host a poker tourney with absolutely no problems.
The most important aspect to keep in mind is the overall experience your poker friends are having. If you decide to perform on a cheap table, it will be more challenging to deal with the chips and to collect cards after each hand. Cards will fly across (and sometimes off) the home-made table. If you cannot swing a pro poker table, consider some other choices such as a felt table topper or just buy some poker felt on the internet and cover your table with it. If you’re a handyman, consider building your own quality professional grade poker table; it is not that challenging.
Quality poker playing cards are essential for a successful tourney. If you buy a two-dollar cheap set, they will become filthy, difficult, and get bent edges and have to be thrown out after 1 hour of poker play. It is well worth the investment to spend money on some top quality 100% proven poker cards. They will perform better and last much longer. You can even clean them if they become filthy. You will need at least two decks of cards for each poker table. This allows one poker play to be shuffling while one is dealing which keeps the pace of play moving which is important when you are playing with costly blind levels and timers. You should also get at least one cut card for each table to help avoid the end cards of the deck from being revealed.
Poker chips are absolutely necessary to host a serious tournament. There are wide variety of poker chip options on the web that vary from pennies per chip to dollars per chip in cost. You do not have to have the expensive chips to have an excellent time at your tournament. Chips also come with or without cash values on them. Poker chips with cash values can be very practical, but are not necessary. Chips without cash values can be more versatile as you can allocate any value to them. If you choose to use chips without money values just publish a graph of what each colored chip is valued at. The quantity of chips you need really depends on the number of poker players attending your home poker tournament. Make sure you have enough chips so each poker playing has enough chips to make proper poker wagers. (20-30 chips is an excellent target to aim for) You will also want some bigger denomination chips so you can color up the chips when the blind levels reach a higher value later in the night.
There are many choices for electronic blinds timers. You can use a simple egg-timer although this becomes very painful to manage as someone has to totally reset it for each blind change and it can be difficult to see at times. The Poker Genie is a great choice, or there are many programs you can get that will run on a laptop and you can even project your laptop onto your television screen. You could also buy a professional blinds timer and mount it to the wall in your game room if you are frequent player.
Finally, you need a strategy. You should know in advance what your buy in price will be, whether you will allow rebuys, what your cash payouts will be, and what your overall blind structure will be. Your buy in and rebuys should be spelled out clearly to people when you invite them to your tournament. No one wants to show up with $20 in their wallet to find out you are having a $30 buy in game. Payouts need to be made and the payout structure should be conveyed to the players or posted on the wall for them to see. Publishing your rules on the wall or via email will eliminate any late night arguments that may occur.
When establishing blind level changes consider how long you want your home poker tournament to last. Blind level structures depend on how many people are playing, the actual buy in, how many chips you are giving out and the value of each chip. Here is an example of an excellent blind level poker structure:
Round 1: 100-200
Round 2: 200-400
Round 3: 300-600
Round 4: 500-1000
Round 5: 700-1400
Round 6: 1000-2000
Round 7: 1500-3000
Round 8: 2000-4000
Round 9: 3000-6000
Round 10: 5000-8000
Round 11: 7000-14,000
Round 12: 10,000-20,000
Round 13: 20,000-40,000
It is also a wise decision to go over all the rules with the poker players beforehand and to announce a moderator to make rulings if necessary as well as a back-up moderator for when the first one is not available or in the middle of making a rule at another table. Take your time to plan your home poker tournament so you will continue to have your friends come back to play more poker tournaments in the future. Good luck and I hope your first home poker tournament is a success.