Who's in for poker night? We've got a winning hand for planning a successful poker party, from set-up to game options to drinks. Check out our tip for planning and hosting a memorable night.
Setting up your poker table (or tables!) is key! It’s easy to find a home poker kit that includes cards, nice chips and a good playing surface. But if you don’t have one of these fancy kits, take a trip to a fabric store and get a big swatch of green felt to put over your tabletop.
It’s important to make sure you have enough poker chips for all of your guests. You probably can’t get by with less than 35 chips per person—most experts suggest 50 to 100 per head. If you don’t mind a mish-mash of chips, ask your guests to bring extra chips. If you’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em, make sure you have a special chip set aside for the button.
Another tip: If you have guests with different skill levels and comfortability, consider having tables for learners and experts.
To round out the theme, pick up some casino-themed napkins and plates decorated with images of dice, cards or dollar signs from a party store.
This is the perfect event to raise the stakes—with the outfits! Even if you’re not playing for high stakes, asking guests to come in cocktail attire (suits and ties, dresses) is a fun excuse to get dressed up and get in the mood.
We also recommend getting cheap costume armbands and green plastic dealer visors—your guests will love it!
Playing with some card sharks? If they arrive wearing shirts with billowy sleeves, make sure they roll them up when you play so they can’t hide cards in them.
Texas Hold ‘Em is usually front and center, but you can have a great card party with poker variations: Five-card Draw, Seven-card Stud, Hi/lo, Baseball Poker and other make-up-your-own-rules games.
The most important thing when playing poker is to be familiar with the winning hands. Here they are from high to low:
- Royal flush
- Straight flush
- Four of a kind
- Full house
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- One pair
Or, just remember that a full house flushes a straight.
This is the perfect night for appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and charcuterie boards that you can prepare beforehand. We recommend frozen appetizers that are easy for you to heat in the microwave or oven so you can focus on the games! Pizza is always a good option, especially if the games go late into the night. Set up your food and drinks with some casual seating nearby for guests who want a break or prefer to socialize.
If you’re playing poker, you might be thinking martinis are in order. Martinis will make your party upscale for sure (think James Bond, though his game was baccarat). Single-malt scotch is also great to have on hand. For cocktails, consider the classy Sidecar.
- 2 parts Cognac
- 1 part triple sec
- 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled highball glass.
Some say that serious cards need to be played without the influence of booze. So for a non-alcoholic alternative, grab some carbonated soda water and mix it up with some Italian syrup.