Take Your Home Poker Game To The Next Level: Choosing The Right Equipment

October 24, 2017
Take Your Home Poker Game To The Next Level: Choosing The Right Equipment


Whether they fell in love with poker because of Chris Moneymaker’s  2003 World Series of Poker win, the movie Rounders, or by just sitting around a dorm room, most people begin playing poker in home games.

Even with the proliferation of casinos and card rooms, home games continued to be an integral part of a person’s poker journey. More importantly, a well-run home game provides the right atmosphere for people to fall in love with the game of poker.

So, if you’re planning on hosting a home poker game there are a few things you should know. This column will teach you how the right equipment can set your home game up for success.

What kind of home game are you hosting?

Home games comer in all shapes and sizes.

They can be ad hoc affairs that take place around the dining room table or at a cheap folding card table in a cold, musty basement.

They can also be well organized, with professional grade equipment; some even boast paid dealers and catered food.

Whether you have an unlimited budget or are trying to keep costs down, here are a few tips when it comes to providing your guests with the right, poker chips, cards, playing surface, and chairs.

How much should I spend on poker chips?

A good rule of thumb is to have 500 chips of various denominations or colors for every eight to ten players.

As long as you’re not using lightweight plastic chips, with few exceptions, there’s not much of a functional difference between a $50 chipset and a $200 chipset.

Most of the poker chip sets within that price range are made out of some sort of a plastic/clay composite material with a metal insert to add some extra weight to the chips.

They’re nothing special, but they’re durable and functional.

You won’t start seeing ceramic (Nevada Jacks and Brybell) or casino quality chips (Paulson) until you start to get into the $300-$500 and up range for a set of 500.  A set of Paulson’s, typically seen as the top quality casino chip usually starts at about $1,000.

So, unless you’re in the market for a pricey set, the money you’re considering spending on poker chips is usually better spent elsewhere.

However, if you want to differentiate your home game from others, and are willing to spend a bit more without breaking the bank, I’d recommend NexGen chips, which have a better look and feel than the typical composite insert chips you can buy at retail stores.

You can usually find a set of 500 NexGen chips for about $125, which is roughly triple the price of a typical bare-bones set, but still far cheaper than the ceramics, or Paulson clay chips.

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Don’t skimp on the cards

Decks of cards are one of the oft-overlooked parts of a home poker game. They’re also one of the most important.

It’s good to have two decks of cards for every table, with a third backup deck.

Pro tip: Take some of the money you were going to spend on a chipset and invest in a few decks of KEM or Copag cards. You can usually find two setups for about $15-$20 on Amazon.

Additionally, always have some new decks of standard Bicycle cards ready to go as a backup, or if people want to play cash games or start another tournament.

Do I need a poker table?

What type of table you play at will largely depend on how formal and large your game is.

Kitchen tables and folding tables are fine for a friendly family game, but if you’re hosting a regular home game you should definitely look into a decent playing surface.

Table options range from $50 table-toppers to $100-$250 folding poker tables to permanent structures with a padded rail and a dealer’s box that start at several hundred dollars and can cost up to a couple grand.

The type of table you purchase should be influenced by your poker space, and what types of games you’ll be hosting.

If you host a two-table tournament in your living room once a month then you’ll probably gravitate towards the folding tables, as they’re easy to store.

If you host a weekly cash game in a dedicated space in your basement you may want to splurge on a couple permanent tables.

One must: comfortable chairs

Whether you choose to buy a poker table or simply play in the dining room, you should make sure you have enough comfortable chairs.

I can’t think of many worse ways to spend a Friday night than sitting on a metal folding chair or a plastic outdoor chair for five or six hours.

you don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of ergonomic computer chairs, but definitely make sure the chairs you use don’t take up a lot of space, as poker tables are crowded enough already.

The low budget option is to buy some $3 seat cushions for those metal folding chairs you have left over from a graduation party, but if you want to splurge a bit you could look into buying a half dozen or more of these padded chairs at around $30 a pop.

The most important part about hosting a home game is providing a comfortable environment for your friends and family. Whether you have a luxe set-up or you’re playing on the kitchen table, always try to encourage a fun and fair poker environment. If you do it right, you may just build a group of poker players who’ll play this great game for life.

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