Top 10 Tips to Host Your Own Poker Nights

 tips to host poker nights
Host Your Own Poker Nights

Living in South Africa, we are very lucky to have the option to braai just about any night of the week. It is a favourite pastime of ours, as well as one of the best ways to kick back and relax with some friends and a cold beer. However, if your braais and boys’ nights are getting a little stale and uninspiring, the answer is right here.


Why not host poker nights? Not only is this a great way to keep yourself and your friends entertained and win some extra pocket money, but it also gives you a much-needed once-a-week break.

They are inexpensive and relatively easy to host once you get the hang of it and figure out all the kinks. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a game of poker among friends, and by the time you know it, you may consider yourself quite the player.

See also – How To Play Arizona Hold’em Poker In South Africa?

Tips to host poker nights

Tip to Plan Your Poker Party
Tip to Plan Your Poker Party

Before hosting, or deciding to host poker nights, it is important to know what you are getting yourself into and what goes into hosting them.

It isn’t rocket science, but it also isn’t just a bunch of guys rocking up with a deck of cards and a packet of chips. Knowing what is expected beforehand will help in having smooth and enjoyable poker nights.

1. Plan Ahead

There is nothing worse than your guests rocking up and you have nothing ready. In order to host a game of poker you will need the following items:

  • A table
  • Cards
  • Chips
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Cigars (if you really want to go the extra mile)

As a number one tip to host poker nights, decide on the type of poker you’ll be playing, such as Texas Hold’em or Omaha, and the buy-in amount.

Also, determine the blinds and betting limits and communicate these rules to all players beforehand. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no misunderstandings during the game when you host poker nights.

Snacks and drinks are debatable. While this is usually provided by the host, having this expense every week can become a bit much.

Rather have everyone contribute weekly, or have a different person responsible for these each week. This way it isn’t too expensive for anyone and everyone contributes their fair share.

2. Know the game you are playing

Now, how can you host poker nights without knowing how to play poker?

Second tips to host poker nights, if you know nothing about poker and neither does anyone in your group of friends, here is a quick video to watch on all the basics.

You need to know how to play poker to host poker nights, and partake, in a poker evening. While the rules at a home-based poker evening might be a little more relaxed than a game at the casino, it still has to be fair (and at least resemble a poker game).

There are certain ways to play and certain rules to follow for the game to run smoothly and well for everyone. As the host, everyone will more than likely look to you for a little bit of poker guidance, so spend time in the days leading up to the first game researching.

Play some poker online on one of our great casino sites, or even visit a casino to see how it is done. This will boost your confidence when hosting your first poker evening.

3. Create a comfortable environment

To make sure your guests are comfortable, you’ll need to provide enough chairs for everyone to sit in, a clean playing area, and a suitable temperature.

As tips to host poker nights, make sure the lighting is adequate and that there is enough space for people to move around comfortably.

Set up some mood lighting and play some background music to create a fun and lively atmosphere.

4. Your Equipment

Your Equipment
Your Equipment

Poker tables are not an absolute necessity. Fourth tip to host poker nights you can make do with any table in your house that is big enough, and simply use a table topper.

This way you can avoid your wife complaining about a poker table in the entrance hall.

A table topper also means that the venue of the poker evening can be rotated – it doesn’t always have to be at your place. You can pick up a poker set fairly easily, and you will probably be able to find a good second-hand set online if you look.

500-chipset should be enough, and you always have the option to add on if needed. You can break down your chips however you want, for example:

  • White – R5
  • Blue – R10
  • Red – R50
  • Green – R100

However, most home poker games don’t worry about the monetary value of the chips, as they are buy-in based and the winner takes home the total pot at the end of the evening.

5. Set the rules

One of the most important tips for hosting poker nights – make sure the rules are clear and agreed upon. You don’t want a poker game to be the end of your friendship.

Have a meeting to set the rules as a group and make them very clear, even if this means writing down the rules on a board and sticking it up during the game, this will avoid any nasty situations later on.

6. Set the mood

Poker can get intense when you host poker nights. Tips to host poker nights, why not calm it down a bit with a bit of jazzy music, setting the tone for a classy event? Throw in some cigars and you and your group will feel like you’re sitting in a VIP casino in good old Las Vegas. Keep it exciting. Why not throw in a little spice and have a different theme each week? By keeping things exciting and fresh, you know that the poker evenings won’t fizzle out too easily. It takes a bit of effort sometimes, but it is worth it.

7. Closing time

Host Poker Nights
Host Poker Nights

There has to be a set closing time. Otherwise, you could keep playing all night while someone tries to win again and again. By setting a cut-off time, you have a definitive winner and everyone can settle down (and keep the wife happy).

8. Keep it friendly

While poker can be a competitive game, it’s important to keep things friendly and respectful. Make sure everyone knows it’s all in good fun and that the goal is to have a good time.

Avoid trash-talking or belittling other players, as this can make people feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

9. Be mindful of the time

It’s important to have a realistic estimate of how long the game will take, and communicate this to your guests. You don’t want the game to go on for too long, especially if people have to work the next day.

Keep an eye on the clock and be prepared to wrap things up if the game is taking longer than expected.

10. Have fun

The most important thing is to have fun! Host poker nights are a great way to spend time with friends and family, and it can be a lot of fun if everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves.

Don’t worry too much about winning or losing – just focus on having a good time and creating some great memories.


Hosting poker nights is a great way to spend quality time with your friends and possibly save money by not going out. It is safe, fun and exciting. Keep things interesting by having different themes, or coincide your poker nights with whiskey or craft beer tastings.

Throw in some cigars and what else do you need? Or keep things super casual, invite your mates over and order some pizza delivery.

It is a very flexible activity and may be the start of a many-year-long weekly or monthly habit for your group of friends.

Rotate responsibilities and it won’t be too difficult for just one person to host or cater for. Everyone can chip in at the beginning to buy the actual poker set.

About the author

Rebecca Brown