Poker is a game for both beginners and experts, but often the experience of joining a couple rounds can be intimidating. If you’ve been itching to have a poker night but don’t have a roster of professionals to play with, we’ve come up with a few tips to help your friends get into the game.
Host a Poker Night at Home
While casinos, online gaming or professional tournaments may intimidate, poker nights at home are one of the best ways to help newcomers learn just how exciting poker can be. You might be able to lure a few friends in with good drinks and delicious snacks, and then teach them the ropes. If you’re planning a poker night soon, make sure to prepare the following pieces of your perfect game night:
- Player Pool: Who is playing, and what is their skill level? Breaking tables up by beginner and intermediate abilities may help individuals feel more comfortable their first couple hands.
- Schedule: If your poker nights will be an ongoing initiative, determine the regular time and location—and share those details with attendees.
- Manage Expectations: Social events are less intimidating if you know exactly what’s going to happen. Set a schedule for attendees, including game time start and stop.
- Format: What kind of game will you have, and how will you structure the experience? What type of poker are you playing? For example, you may want to start with Blackjack to get people comfortable with playing cards and then move to traditional poker formats like 5 Card Draw, 5 Card Stud and Texas Hold ‘Em.
- Stakes: For poker beginners, low stakes often feel more comfortable and encourage nervous participants to join in. As your friends learn the game, consider increasing the stakes for more excitement.
Talk About the Basics
Even though the game may seem simple to you, teach everyone the basic rules of poker and prepare “reminder” cards with important rules. Not everyone wants to admit when they’re lost or confused, but if you create a safe environment for learning and asking questions, you’ll have a group of regular poker players in no time. Consider sending a link with basic instructions to attendees ahead of your scheduled poker night, so they can start getting familiar with the rules, strategy and flow of the game before putting their knowledge to practice.
Teach the Lingo
What might seem like a normal poker vocabulary to you could be extremely confusing to someone else! Share and explain the majority of game-specific terms ahead of time, or be prepared to offer up simple definitions over the course of your teaching experience. Examples of words could include ante, fold, check call or capped betting.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Let us tell you now: it’s going to get awkward, and your friends will make mistakes. This is okay! Everyone has to begin somewhere. Manage your own expectations and don’t be too harsh on your newbie players. With some expert coaching from you, and a desire to win, they’ll be raising the stakes in no time!