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5 Ways To Make Your Home Poker Night More Exciting And Loser-Friendly!

Five simple tips on making your home poker night more user and loser-friendly!

It can be a little embarrassing, not to mention potentially controversial, for the same player to win poker home games each time. Here are some great tips to make your home poker night appeal to more than just the likely-winning players!

If you are a serious poker player, you will know that playing online at sites such as bet365 Poker and home poker night games can be a blast. It’s not just about the game; it’s about the laughter, the banter, and the shared experiences that make these nights so special.

The option to play alongside your friends and family, and beat them, is not just enticing; it’s a chance to hone your poker skills in a friendly and familiar environment. A unique opportunity to learn and grow as a player.

After all, playing Texas Hold’em at the online tables or cash games available at bet365 Poker is one thing. Playing with your friends and family in person is very different. 

For one, you’ll have to keep a lid on your emotions. You’ll have to learn to control your reactions to hands – as if you develop a tell that your opponents pick up on – you’ll be in trouble!

No doubt you’ll want to win every time you play at bet365 Poker. But in a home game, the attitude and atmosphere is slightly different. 

There may be less emphasis on winning and more on enjoying the game and company. 

Healthy competition mixed with conviviality!

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So, it is not good for a healthy home game for the same players to keep winning, especially if everyone playing is putting money into the pot in a winner-takes-all scenario.

Nobody likes to see the same person pocketing the cash with a smile every time you play!

With poker ability likely to vary considerably in a home game, that can all-too-easily be the case. So what can you do to prevent it?

You don’t want good players to lose on purpose. That defeats the whole point of the game. Besides, those still learning won’t develop their skills playing against players with no intention to win.

But there are ways you can make your home poker night more loser-friendly! 

In this article, we will look at five simple ways you can do this. Whether you win on the night or not, you are going to have a good time and maybe even pocket yourself a prize.

All to keep your home poker night sociable, friendly and enjoyable!

Assumptions for your Home Poker Night

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For the tips we have outlined below, we have assumed the following:

  • Your home poker night is played for a cash prize. By that, we mean each player buys into the game for the same amount.
  • The winner takes home all, or the vast majority, of the prize pool for the home game. 
  • Your home poker night aims are not solely to win but to enjoy each other’s company. It is equally a social gathering as much as a competitive poker game. 
  • Finally, we’ve assumed that your home poker night has at least four players or more. The ideal number for a great home poker night is between 6 and 8 players.

So if your home poker night tournament matches this criteria, the tips below can apply to your game!

Five Easy Tips To Make Your Home Poker Night More Loser-Friendly

1. Have a separate prize for the ‘best hand of the night’

Home poker night

One of the simplest ways to enhance the appeal of your home poker night is to have an additional prize alongside the cash prize pool.

A common option is to ask each of the players participating in the event to bring with them an additional prize of a stated value. This prize should be smaller than the buy-in. 

For example, for my home poker nights, I always ask each player to bring two or three bottles of beer or cider, spending around £5.

We then create a beer hamper with all the contributions. This is then awarded to the player who wins a hand with the highest value of the evening, regardless of whether they are eliminated from the competition or win it. 

You can stipulate that the winner is not eligible to win the beer hamper prize too. This ensures that at least two of your poker fraternity leave the evening with a tangible prize for their efforts. 

Personally, I don’t make that stipulation in my home poker game. Even so, it is rare for the tournament winner on the night to also claim the beer hamper prize. 

It does require someone to record what has been the highest-value hand of the evening. Of course, if two hands are equal as the best hand, you can then split the prize between the two players. 

You can use anything you like as a prize for the best hand of the night. Other popular choices include players buying vouchers (such as Amazon vouchers or similar) to a stated value, treat items (such as chocolate, biscuits or similar), prizes on a theme (such as Halloween, Christmas, Summer), or you can collect the cash for the separate prize beforehand and buy a prize to that value. 

Some of the most popular prizes you can win this way include: a waffle, candy floss or doughnut maker (strange as it may seem, these prove to be hugely popular prizes), adventure day or experience vouchers, vouchers for restaurants/cinema/theatre and useful sporting equipment.

The aim for these prizes is not to make them silly, but fun and useful, so that the player winning the prize feels it is an achievement to win. It is also a good idea not to offer cash, as that retains the focus on the main cash prize and this adds another layer of competition to the event. 

2. Offer prizes for second, third and even fourth-placed players rather than winner-takes-all.

Home Poker Night
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It goes without saying that winner-takes-all home poker nights mean only one person enjoys the fruits of their labour.

So, you can easily adjust this by splitting the cash pot to offer prizes for players that finish as a runner-up, third or even fourth on the night.

Of course, how much you split the prize pool down should depend on the number of players competing in the tournament.

As a general rule of thumb, never offer a player a prize less than their original buy in. 

The more players in your home game, the more you can split the prize pool into a second, third prize or more. 

Personally, I would only split the prize between the final two players in the tournament and try to ensure that the winning player received more than ⅔ of the prize pool. 

For example, if a home poker night has eight players, each paying £20 to participate, that creates a £160 prize pool. So I would suggest that the winner take home £110 and the runner-up £50

Or if you wanted three prizes, I would suggest the winner take home £90, the runner-up £40, and Third Place £30.

3. Have the winner pay for food and drink you enjoy during your home poker night.

Home Poker Night

My home poker night is very much a social event. It involves people enjoying a drink and some food, usually a takeaway.

So, if you are looking to split the costs of the night, an easy way is to have the winner of the tournament pay for the takeaway. 

Pizza is a very popular option as it is easy to eat (just wash your hands afterwards – greasy cards are not fun to deal with!). 

However, it is fair to spread the cost of hosting poker night around all the competitors, especially if you only ever play in one person’s home.

In such situations, it’s a great idea to say the player who wins the poker tournament will pick up the tab for the takeaway. This essentially means everyone contributes to the night, and no single player is left heavily out of pocket for hosting. 

4. Allow players eliminated from the competition early to rebuy back in for a cheaper price.

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Nothing sours the mood of a friendly home poker night than a person going out of the tournament early, especially if it is due to a bad beat. 

So one solution to this is to allow players eliminated earlier on in the tournament a chance to buy back in for a smaller fee.

Of course, you have to make this fair. You can’t ask everyone pay £25 for 5,000 chips to buy into the event and then give someone a chance to buy back in for 5,000 chips for £5. Instead, you could offer them the chance to buy 1,000 chips for £5 to get back into the tournament. But you can also offer the chance for other players to buy a further 1,000 chips for £5 too. 

Timing when to offer the rebuy is important too. You want to offer the rebuy around the half-way mark of the tournament ideally. 

5. Have a series of silly prizes or forfeits for players should a particular event occur in your home poker night tournament.

Finally, if your home poker night emphasizes fun, a great idea is to offer a series of silly prizes, forfeits, or similar rewards should a certain event occur in a game. 

A simple but fun addition is to have some small prizes to be won for when a certain hand is landed in the game. For example, the first Full House in the game wins a large bar of chocolate. You can be more creative and funny with the prizes, such as the first straight in the game wins a ruler, the first flush in the game wins a toilet brush etc. 

You can also have a booby prize for the player who falls for the biggest bluff of the night (of course, the person bluffing would have to show their cards to allow you to award the prize).

As you can see, there are several simple ways to keep your home poker night game friendly, fun, and competitive while offering everyone a better chance of winning.

There’s still no better place to hone your skills online than bet365 Poker. So if you are not already a bet365 customer, sign up today to enjoy the wide range of games available on site.

Playing online can keep your game sharp and focused ahead of the next home poker night!

Ian John

Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.

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