By Paul Hewson
Poker is a lot of fun, but hosting a poker game is serious business. Even if you and all your buddies know poker inside and out, it still takes organization, planning and effort to make sure the game goes off without a hitch. A series of financial transactions are taking place, even if there's beer in the fridge. By hosting the game, not only are you in charge of the chips and dip, you are the treasurer for the night as well.
Still willing to take the plunge? Excellent. You're going to need some things, though. Here are the first five items on your shopping list.
A Poker Table (or Two)
It's probably best to start with six to eight players for your first game, but if you happen to have something bigger in mind, no problem – as long as you have the means. With a smaller group, it's easy enough to buy a casino felt layout and throw it on your dining-room table, if you have a dining room. Or you could shell out a few hundred dollars for a basic, but proper poker table, one with cup holders and a nice felt surface. More players, more tables.
They say sitting is the new smoking, but try convincing your friends to play poker standing up. You'll need as many chairs as you have guests, plus a few more to be safe. Depending on where you shop, you might end up buying the table and chairs together, and that will allow you to ensure the chairs are the appropriate height. Otherwise, folding chairs are acceptable. Go for the wooden ones with the padded seats.
A fresh poker game deserves a fresh deck of cards. We've told you about the playing cards that magicians like to use, but if you're on a budget, you can get the standard Bicycle decks and you should be fine – just make sure to pick up an extra deck or two in case one of the cards gets damaged. A plastic deck would be much better, or acetate if you can afford it.
Again, you have a range of options to suit your budget. You could buy a simple carousel of those small plastic chips (make sure each player has at least 50), but at least try to get the full poker set with the dealer button and everything included. For a better experience, you can get clay chips for a reasonable price. For upwards of $1,000, you’ll get them in a fancy case and impress your friends.
Food and Drink
It's always nice when guests bring their own to share, but you can help enhance the mood by serving up something a little fancier. Bourbon and poker go well together, and barbecue goes well with bourbon. Don't let people eat at the table, though. You don't want anyone marking the deck with salsa.