So you’ve watched the World Series of Poker long enough and you’re ready to get in on the action. If you don’t live near Atlantic City, Vegas or a River Boat, your best bet is to set up your own poker room.
Here are the bare essentials you’ll need to put yours together, without breaking the bank, while keeping your buddies coming back for more no matter how much money you lift off them.
First thing you’re going to need to start out your game is the cards. (I’m assuming you already have a drink in hand.) You have a couple different options, so go with the card that matches your price point and your preference. Two of our favorites are the Bee® Stinger and KEM cards.
Stingers (left), are printed on a high quality, Aristocrat grade playing card stock, and, because at one time were exclusively available to casinos, they’ll give your room an authentic feel. They feel crisp and snap with your shuffle, yet are coated with a durable, smooth finish. Think about the feel of your favorite deck of Bicycle cards, except these last much longer. Stingers are available in a variety of cool designs, and at under $5 a pack, you can get a good supply. Available at Theory11.com
KEM cards (right), are made 100% of plastic – meaning you can easily wash off your buddy’s errant cheeto marks. You do pay a premium for these cards, but it’s worth it. They’re available in many varieties, including a “Super Index” option using larger than normal numbers and symbols for when you are trying to bilk grandpa out of his cash. They are used in poker rooms throughout the world, so you know you’re getting quality.
$29.95 – KEM.com.
And I’m not talking about the corn or potato variety. To have the best game on the block, you’re gonna need to have a serious chip set. The sleeve of plastic chips you picked up at the grocery store isn’t going to cut it anymore.
There are two things you’ve got to think about when getting your chips: the weight, and the amount of chips. The weight for chips is done in grams, and you’re going to want a chip that weighs at least 11.5g. There are chips that weigh more, usually 13.5g, although 11.5g remains the standard home-game chip.
Most poker chips now come in fancy cases that make you look like you’re delivering the orange crop forecasts to the Duke brothers. Your chip needs will vary depending on if you prefer playing cash games or tournaments, but you should plan on having at least 500 chips if you have more than six people playing. Another note, most sets will include a Dealer chip, but make sure you have one. Nothing is more frustrating than people going out of turn because they forgot who the dealer was.
You can find a wide selection of chips at Pokernstuff.com.
Another option if you want to really class it up is to have custom poker chips. Chipcustomizer.com provides you with the tools to put custom labels on your set so you know no one is trying to sneak chips in like a bad Western movie.
You can go a lot of different ways with a poker table. There are poker tables that can be pulled out for the game only and then put away when you’re done playing, or there are poker tables that can become a permanent part of your household furniture.
If you don’t have a lot of cash to drop on a table or just want something that can fold away and leave no evidence of a poker game, check out the tables at Flop2River.com. With ten spots marked by built-in drink holders, foldable legs for easy transport, a soft cushion around the edge, and different available felt options, there’s no reason you can’t get this table.
If you have the flexibility to spend more on your table and can leave it as a piece of your furniture, check out the table on the right. Also with ten spots, it has a beautiful wood trim around the table, cushioned arm rests and paw feet on the legs. This thing is classy. Oh, did we mention the option to add on a dining top and custom graphics for the felt?
We’re on a roll now. The basics of the game are taken care of with the cards, chips and table… now it’s time for the amenities.
Without a doubt, you’re going to have someone complain about having to get up from the table to go get their next beer. And there’s really no reason for your beers to not be within arms reach. We recommend getting a mini fridge. Check out the Danby Deluxe Compact Refrigerator, $179.99 at Amazon.com.
With all your boys showing up to play, you’re going to need somewhere for them to sit. Chairs tend to take up a lot of room, so plan to get chairs that fold away. We found some good-looking ones at PokerTableShowroom.com that have padding, will keep your ass comfortable for marathon games, and can be folded and placed in a closet.
Cigars are almost as important for poker night as cards and chips. So ask yourself: Do you care if people have cigars at the table? Let them know ahead of time so they can bring their best. Plan to have an ashtray to keep from ruining your table five minutes into the game. One of the coolest trays we found was the Chairman’s 8 Cigar Ashtray from Famous Smoke Shop for those big games.
Last word of advice for the game: Post your house rules. Before the game starts, it’s important that everyone understand your stance on a string bet, playing out of turn, misdeals, etc. Having these stated before the game and giving you final say keeps your house in order.
Got it all covered? Shuffle up and deal!