You’ve watched poker on TV, played online and now fancy having a game with a few friends at home. Playing at home with friends is easy to set up and can be a great night, but there are a few things you need to consider to make it a real success.


Cards are obviously the most important thing to have, since it is a card game after all! Don’t just reach for that manky old deck you’ve taken on holiday several times though, they’ll be scrappy and most probably bent and marked.

Cheap paper cards just aren’t up to the amount of shuffling and play needed for poker. It’s worth investing in a deck or two that will last for a good few games, for this 100% plastic cards are best as they are more durable. We recommend Kem Arrow, or Copags which are both available from or


You could play with your copper coins you’ve been building up or even a bit of monopoly money, but for that real feel you can’t beat using some decent casino chips. You can get chips from just about anywhere at the moment, but like most things you get what you pay for! It’s worth getting at least a 500 piece chip set to ensure you have enough for all your players. Cheaper sets tend to contain lighter chips which just don’t give the satisfying feel that heavier ones do. Ideally you should try to get clay filled chips which are 11.5g in weight, and it’s always best to get ones that come in a case for convenient storage.

Buy in

It’s best to set your buy in at a level that all players can afford and are happy to pay, a good gauge might be keeping it below what you’d spend on a Friday night down the pub. Beginners may be unhappy putting too much into the pot as well as they will think they are just going to lose it. If you’re all veterans you may consider playing for more. You also need to decide if you’re doing a rebuy or freezeout tournament, how much the rebuys are and how many allowed. The blinds form the prize fund so it’s worth making it clear at the start how this will be split and to how many players. A good guide is to pay first and second places for under 8 players, and the top 3 players above that. Alternatively you could have a winner takes all game.


It’s important to have a blind structure set up beforehand to keep the game moving and ensure you’re not there all night. Setting the blinds to rise too quickly and you’ll have finished in no time, too slowly and you’ll still be there when the sun comes up! Having the blinds rise about every 30 minutes should lead to an approximately 5 hour game. The big blind is also always the minimum amount you can bet. It’s worth downloading a blind timer and running it on your laptop or PC if you have one nearby. These automatically count down the blind time for you and tell you what the blinds should be at all times. Quite a good one is Tournament Director which has a free 30 day trial.

Food and Drink

It’s not a home poker game unless you have a few beers to keep you going, stock that fridge up ready! Always start the game when you’re sober though so that everyone is clear about how the game is set up, the blind levels etc etc. Food wise, you don’t want to get your cards, chips and table covered in it so stick to crisps.

Other things to consider

If you have novices playing it may be worth printing off a hand rank guide so they can quickly and easily see what they have without having to consult others. Make sure people know your house rules and stick to them, no acting out of turn, soft playing or rabbit hunting should be allowed.

Playing poker at home with your mates is one of the best ways to play it, making it that bit more professional with our tips will make it just that bit better. Enjoy!

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