You play Texas Hold’em at home by setting clear rules, deciding with the other players what happens when a card deal fails and determining the blinds and stakes.
Poker is one of the best card games that you can play for hefty amounts of money in a casino. Still, many people enjoy playing recreational poker with a group of friends. When you want to organize a Texas Holdem home game, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this guide, we will explain exactly what you need to make it a fun and entertaining evening.
There are many different poker variants. The most popular poker games are Texas Hold’em, Seven Stud poker and Omaha poker. There are also split pot poker game variants, Omaha/8 and Seven-Stud/8 for example. As no-limit Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular poker game played, we assume you want to play this type of poker with your friends further on in this how-to-play Texas Hold’em at home guide.
Apart from choosing the poker variant to play, you will also need to determine the structure of the poker home game. You can opt for a regular cash game where players can buy in and leave at any time or you can choose to organize a poker home game in tournament form. The poker game then continues until there is only one player left.
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What do You Need to Organize a Texas Hold’em Home Game?
You don’t need much to organize a Texas Hold’em home game. A normal table, enough chairs, a poker chip set and playing cards are usually enough. In addition, snacks and drinks are of course appreciated.
How to Play Texas Hold’em at Home
You play Texas Hold’em at home by following these rules:
You start by placing a dealer button at the table. This button indicates who the dealer is. This person shuffles and deals the playing cards for this hand or game round.
Before players start playing or betting, the first player to the left of the dealer is required to bet a pre-agreed amount called the small blind. The player to the left of this player then proceeds to post the big blind, which in most cases will be two times the size of the small blind. The size of the blinds depends on the predetermined limits played.
First Round of Betting
The player to the left of the big blind is the first player to make a move. This player has three options: call, raise or fold. With a call, the player bets the same amount of money as the big blind. By raising, this player bets an extra amount on top of the amount of the big blind.
If the player folds, this round is over for them. This player no longer plays for the pot of this round, but it doesn’t cost this player any money either. Players also have the additional option to re-raise.
The Flop & Second Round of Betting
Three cards are placed on the table that are visible to all. These three cards are community cards and make up the flop. Each player uses these cards to make a five-card combination with the two cards in their hand.
Besides calling, raising and re-raising, players now also have the option to check. By checking, a player doesn’t do anything and sort of passes the turn over to the next player. If a bet has been placed before a player, the next player(s) can call that amount or raise.
The Turn & Third Betting Round
After the second betting round, the fourth community card in the middle of the table is dealt. This is called the turn. This card again supplements the players’ hand cards to make a five-card poker hand. Players have the option to check, bet, call, raise or fold.
The River & Final Betting Round
After the third betting round, the fifth and final community card is revealed. This is the river card. Now comes the final betting round. Players have the same choices again and if there are multiple people remaining, the showdown happens. This is when everyone still in the game has to show their cards.
The winner is the player with the highest ranking five-card poker hand. If two people have the exact same highest-ranking poker hand, a split pot occurs.
When there are two identical winning hands, this is called a split pot. If the pot cannot be equally divided among players and there is a remaining chip, this chip will go to the player who made the last bet or raise. If it is unclear who this was, the chip goes to the player to the left of the dealer.
Bluffing is an important part of poker strategy. A player can have nothing at all or a poor hand and bet as if they have a very strong hand. The opposite is also possible: a player has a good hand but is reluctant to bet in order to entice other players to go bet higher than them in order to make the pot as high as possible.
It takes a lot of acting and deception to be a good bluffer. Try to practice in front of the mirror and be aware of gestures you make unconsciously or things you do unconsciously when you have a good hand — other players may pay close attention to this.
What is the Goal of a Texas Hold’em Home Game?
The goal of a Texas Hold’em poker home game is to win as many chips as possible. You win chips from being the only player who doesn’t fold or having the highest ranking poker hand among all players that didn’t fold at the end of each round. A poker hand consists of the best possible five-card combination you can make with your two cards and the five community cards that will be dealt to the middle of the table.
What are the Poker Hand Ranks During a Poker Home Game?
The poker hand ranks during a poker home game from highest to lowest are royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10, all the same suit), straight flush (five cards in a sequence in the same suit), four-of-a-kind, full house (three-of-a-kind with a pair), flush (five cards in the same suit), straight (five cards in sequence), three-of-a-kind, two pair, pair and high card.
Set Clear Rules for Your Texas Hold’em Home Game
Nothing spoils an evening more than shouting and arguing. It is therefore important as an organizer to take responsibility by drawing up clear rules. You have to make sure that the most important questions are answered. Examples of these types of questions are:
When does a card deal qualify as a fail?
How high are the blinds or antes and (when) do they increase?
Can you buy yourself back into the game or are you out once you’re out of chips?
Who gets the odd chip when a split-pot occurs?
How Much Do You Bet in Poker?
You are of course free to decide for yourself what the stakes will be at your Texas Hold’em poker home game. It is important to choose an amount that is not too low or too high for other players because bets that are too low make for a non-strategic game, people don’t care enough about the outcome and bets that are too high lead to gloomy emotions and lengthy discussions.
You are not allowed to organize a professional poker tournament at your home in the United States without a valid casino license. Only licensed casinos, bingo halls and card rooms may do so.
However, it is perfectly fine to organize a small-scale poker evening at your home among friends or colleagues. Formally speaking, the maximum deposit for this is $20 per person. You won’t get in trouble quickly if you stick to friendly game nights. Note that this becomes illegal once you’re taking a house rake. It is recommended that a single person takes care of all the payouts during a Texas Hold’em poker home game. It gets messy if multiple players grab chips from the table after each round.
How Long Does a Texas Hold’em Home Game Last?
Make sure there is a clear end time. You don’t want your guests to leave early in a tournament and make extremely risky bets because of this. You also don’t want your guests to want to keep playing indefinitely in the case of a cash game.
It is therefore important to either set a time limit or ensure that the blinds increase in value periodically. By increasing the blinds periodically, you ensure that in the end only one player is left with chips.
Which Other Poker Games Can You Play at Home?
You could play all sorts of poker games at home but Texas Hold’em, Omaha High, and Seven-card Stud are the most popular poker home game variants.
Omaha high is a more extreme variant of the Texas Hold’em. In this poker game, the players receive four face-down cards and there are five community cards. The players then have to make combinations using 2 face down and 3 community cards. In general, higher card combinations will hit the table because each player is dealt more cards.
Seven-card stud is an interesting poker variant where players are dealt both face-up and face-down cards. Because open cards are dealt, you can already deduce what hand players are going for. The player who can make the best five-card hand wins the game.