For dads looking to unwind and enjoy some quality time with friends — that doesn’t include spending money or staring at a screen — gathering your buddies for a poker night at home is a great way to celebrate the weekend after a long week of work.

Free stock photo of ace, blackjack, cards

All you need is a table, a poker set, and a fridge with all your favorite beverages; you and your mates will be ready to spend the next few hours folding and bluffing yourself to the title of “best poker player” out of the friendship group. Sounds like an epic title to have.

This guide will take you through all the steps you need to plan the perfect night for you and your pals.

1.    Clear Up an Evening

Planning ahead is key — especially for dads juggling parenting responsibilities or a busy schedule. A single poker game can last anywhere from one hour to several, depending on your level of expertise, so you need to ensure you have a free evening with nowhere else to be to make sure your games are not rushed.

Plan your poker night for a time when your parenting duties are minimal, perhaps when the kids are at a sleepover or your in-laws can take over for an evening. Also, remember to make sure your friends have their childcare sorted to prevent any need for anyone to leave after just one game. Usually, a Saturday evening is your best bet to schedule a game night as most people will be off work, and is, therefore, a preferred day.

2.    Choose the Poker Variant

The vibe of your night partially depends on which poker variant you choose to play. Some variants are more challenging and might set a more focused tone for the evening, whereas others are simpler and more well-known, allowing more space to have fun and catch up.

Texas Hold ’em is often the best choice because of its simple rules and widespread popularity, so most of your friends will already be familiar with the rules. If your group is more experienced and looking for something a little different, Omaha and Seven-Card Stud offer more challenging gameplay, which is a good choice if you want to increase your competitiveness.

Experimenting with different games can keep your poker nights fresh and exciting, so feel free to switch things up. It may be worth asking your mates what variant they all want to play so that there is a clear game schedule for the evening.

3.    Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

No poker night is complete without the proper equipment. Premium playing cards that glide across the table and chips with a good weight to them will make for more satisfying play and take you closer to the real deal. Ensure you have enough chips; this will be 300 chips for six people and 500 for any group above this. Make a checklist of every item you need to host a poker night, and tick off each item as you add it to the table. This will guarantee the night runs as smoothly as possible.

4.    Practice Your Poker Skills Before The Big Night

Once you have decided on the night you’ll be hosting the game and have invited your friends, you need to practice your skills to impress them with how much of a poker champion you are. I have many poker apps on my phone, but I usually use the BetMGM Poker App because it offers the best online poker games for practicing my skills compared to others I have tried. Practicing on apps is convenient because I am always on the go, so playing from my phone is ideal.

Online poker games are perfect for practicing your poker skills without the pressure of hosting at the same time. You can stream live tournaments online for inspiration from top players or watch YouTube videos of the pros as Poker World Tour. Whatever you decide to do, your phone or the internet, in general, is home to a wealth of resources you can use to hone your skills before you host your big night.

5.    Organize Food and Drinks

You can’t host a fun evening without thinking about accommodating your friends’ excessive hunger and need to keep refreshed and hydrated. This doesn’t need to be a whole meal, nor will you probably have the time to sit down and eat an entire meal; think finger foods and easy-to-grab snacks like sausage rolls, sandwiches, chips, chocolate, cookies, and breadsticks. If you have space, you could even set up a designated snack and drink station away from the poker table to avoid spills. For beverages, cater to what your friends want to drink.

6.    Create the Perfect Atmosphere

It’s essential to create the right atmosphere for your poker night at home; it sets the tone for the evening and helps guests in your house feel comfortable and engaged. Here are some ways you can set the vibes for an epic night:

  1. Poker Table Setup: If you have a poker table, great! If not, any large table will do – you could even use a green tablecloth or felt to mimic the look of a real poker table. Ensure there’s enough space around the table for players to sit comfortably and access their chips and cards easily.
  2. Lighting: Consider soft, warm lighting with table lamps to create a casino-like atmosphere. Bright lighting can make your guests feel unsettled; equally, you don’t want it too dark and end up sending everyone to sleep.
  3. Chip and Card Station: Keep a designated space set aside for your poker chips and decks of cards to keep the table organized. Little touches like this will help add a professional vibe to your game.
  4. Prizes or Trophies: For a fun little addition to end the night, buy a prize or trophy for the winner. It doesn’t have to be expensive — just something to add to the competitive spirit and leave your winner with a memento of the evening.

7. Just Have Fun

Beyond the chips and cards, poker night is all about spending a fun and relaxed evening with your friends, where competition won’t overshadow the fun. You may have friendly banter with one another about poker abilities, wins, and losses, but ultimately, this night should be about being with your friends and having a good time. Sharing stories, celebrating wins, and ensuring that everyone looks forward to the next game night.

Poker Night Is Sorted

Remember that when you’re hosting a poker night, the goal is to have fun, build camaraderie, and enjoy a night off from the mundane day to day. Whether you and your friends are seasoned poker pros or new to the game, these tips will help you host an epic poker night at home that will set the bar high for whoever’s hosting next.

Let me know in the comments if you think I have missed anything from this guide.

, A Dad’s Guide to Hosting an Epic Poker Night at Home, Days of a Domestic Dad