The next thing to consider is numbers. An ideal group consists of five to 10 people- any less and there is insufficient variety, any more and it becomes difficult to fit everybody on to a single table. Once the chosen few have been nominated, set the mood by sending them a themed ‘evite’. In the invitation, let each friend know of one cheap and tasty snack that they should bring with them. That will help to keep costs down.
When the big night comes around, it’s important that the group doesn’t run out of poker chips. So make sure that there are 50 to 100 per person. Another thing to guard against is the table or cards becoming spoiled. So make sure that the food and drinks are kept in a separate location- perhaps on side tables- and that there are plenty of serviettes.
Before the first hand is dealt, get everybody to put in a token amount- say, $10. No betting will take place during the game; instead, the pot will be scooped by the eventual champion. That way, there’s something to play for, but nobody has to dig too deeply into their pockets.
It’s a good idea for the host to provide two decks. While the first is in use, the second can be shuffled by the next dealer in readiness for the coming hand. The result is that the game flows smoothly and it’s always clear whose turn it is to deal next.
No matter how experienced the group may be, the importance of having a set of rules and a copy of the hand hierarchy cannot be underestimated. Even in a friendly game with little at stake, tempers have been known to rise! If the host has a printout or computer on hand, arguments can be nipped in the bud, ensuring that the evening proceeds in the proper spirit.
Finally, it’s sensible to have a form of alternate entertainment prepared for those who are eliminated early. Some like to set up a ‘loser’s table’, others prefer to have some DVDs on hand- any option is fine, just as long as everybody is kept amused.
Generally, the winner will only be decided after quite a few hours, a period that is full of eating, drinking, gossiping and bantering. For the host, limited work and limited money is required to put on a great night that sends everybody home happy. And if you manage to scoop the pot, you may even turn a profit!