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How To Start A Poker Night Group

1.  Decide what kind of poker group you want to generate:  I think poker night has generally been associated with guys meeting to play. With the popularity of poker on TV we see every one joining in to try their luck, and it is spreading fast. We have a mixed group with couples and singles participating, a lot of joking with a party atmosphere. Nothing wrong with an all male or all female group either. They can all be great depending on how they all get along… the group chemistry will make a difference.

2.  Decide what kind of games you will play:  This is important, because as friendly as dealers choice sounds, it can be the basis of a lot of disagreement and wild cards. While you can make a lot better poker hands, they throw off the odds dramatically. I recommend straight poker without wild cards. Start with games like seven card stud, Texas Hold-em maybe high-low split games without wild cards. The simpler the better, is a good rule of thumb, but suit yourself. I played in a dealer’s choice game for 20 years and it was hard to keep up with all the changing rules from game to game, but it was a lot of fun. Some of the games got really expensive. It should be acceptable to sit out a hand if you don’t like the game being dealt. We chose Texas Hold-em tournament style because it’is east to deal and it teaches new players the basics of poker without all the confusion of the rules changing, like in a dealers choice game. We had several new players and they are getting pretty good now… after four years of playing almost every week. They’re now talking about playing in a tournament at the Chumash Casino. That’s progress…

3.  Find a place to play: A rotating game is great where everybody hosts a poker night is good, but if you have a place like a man cave set up for poker, that is best. A bar with lighted beer signs for atmosphere, a good refrigerator for the ice and beverage of choice that everyone will be bringing. Also a round green felt poker table with plenty of room around it, that is ideal. We played for 10 years at Danny’s garage. We wrote the names of players owing at the end of the night on the wall by his water heater. It became known as the “wall of shame” for obvious reasons. Then moved to the American Legion Hall for another 10 years. The Mayor of Carpinteria (Tom Lewis) never missed a game and he had the keys to the facility, where we played every poker game imaginable. Tom Lewis passed last year. He was the longest running mayor in our little coastal town, a very good man and he was a true Poker Ambassador.

Paul Smith
Poker Night in America

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