Choosing a Home Poker Game


There is so much writing on the web about how to host a game, but here is a guide to help players who are looking to play in one.

Home Poker Game Factors

Here are a few factors to look at when finding a game:

  • How bad are the players - Playing with bad players can be good if you are looking to make money at home games. But most talented poker players are not really looking to make money at home games because there are much more lucrative games for good players to play in (online games, higher-limit casino games). Having a game with bad players will also make it more comfortable for other bad players to play in. Some bad players simply want to play poker and have fun without quickly losing their buy-in to good players - playing with other bad players allows them to effectively trade their money back and forth with the other bad players without busting out.

  • Newcomers welcome - Newbie players can be annoying to serious players. They can slow up the game because they don't know how to play, or annoy the other people with questions. Most games, though, welcome newbies. Most home games are not that serious that they exclude someone for being inexperienced.

  • Risk of getting busted - The risk of getting busted is a concern that every host has to some extent. But having the game get busted is also a minor concern for players too. Although players won't face the same legal risks as hosts, they may have some cash confiscated or have to face some questioning by police..

  • Cheating - In my opinion, concerns about cheating at home poker games is a little over-blown. I find it funny how people are so concerned about losing money from being cheated, but they are not concerned at all with losing money from playing bad poker. My general advice about home game cheating is to use your common sense and social intelligence when playing in a game. If you have any instinct that tells you that the people are shady then don't play in the game, or don't go back.

  • Non-poker activities - Some players may be more likely to play in a game if they can do other things - especially if you are playing with people that you don't know. For example, at bar leagues they may be serving food and alcohol. Or at some home games they may be showing a football game. I have played in some home games where it can get boring playing $0.50/$1.00 limit poker for 3 hours.

  • Tourneys vs. cash - If you will be driving from far away, you may want to play in a cash game instead of a tournament. It would be a pain in the ass to drive an hour and then bust out after 5 minutes.

  • Types of games - Make sure they are not playing any games that you don't feel comfortable playing. You may lose $50 in a $1/$2 Omaha game if you don't know how to play Omaha.

  • Female-friendly - Girls have this idea that they are completely unwelcome to play in a game that only has guys playing in it. This may actually be 100% true, but it may also be 100% false. Here is a description of the different kinds of female games.

    • Female-only - These are usually girl-only games where guys are not really invited.

    • Female-friendly - These are games where there aren't any females playing in the game but the guys have no problems having girls join the game. I have played in games where there were only guys playing in the game, and an occasional girl would play, but it didn't change the dynamic in any way. These are games that are guys-only, but only by coincidence.

    • Not-female-friendly - These are games where girls are either explicitly not wanted, or where the behavior is the kind of where girls would feel uncomfortable.


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