Hosting a poker game at home takes some doing. On the one hand, you’ve got to play the dutiful host, being respectful and mindful of your guests – but you can’t allow complacency to creep into your game, because poker is a game of attrition.
Sure, your buddies will likely want to shoot the breeze, have a couple of brewskies, light up a few cigars, and tell dirty jokes – but poker is about putting your mental acuity to the test and emerging victorious. If you play your cards right, and your mind game is strong, you can clean up with a fistful of dollars. Your significant other will also be more accommodating if you put a stash of cash on the dresser after a gruelling night of poker play.
Poker is a social game, but it’s also a mind game. Here are 8 poker tips for crushing your home game and living to fight another day!
Tips For A Strong Home Poker Game
1. Don The Battle Armour!
That’s right folks! Poker is war. It’s not about harming fellow players – it’s about brandishing your steel and fighting for victory.
The best poker players have many years of experience to their credit. They have learned the art of war, and it’s just as important to understand your opponents as it is to play your cards right. Poker is a game of dual streams – you’re playing the player, but you’re also playing your cards. Get both right, and you are deemed poker player extraordinaire.
Don’t go into the contest thinking that it’s just a little powwow with your buddies – this is a battle royale for dominance. You are fighting for your slice of the pot, and you’re more likely to attract serious contenders if you take in bigger stakes and if you play your cards right.
2. Let Them Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Yes! Psychology certainly works wonders with poker players. Be unassuming, be vague, be lighthearted. But beneath it all, be cunning.
Let the wine and beer flow like there’s no tomorrow – loose lips sink ships. Be the dutiful host and keep everybody satiated and safe. Be sure that there are designated drivers and that everybody is in a poker frame of mind. Remember, it’s not the host’s job to be inebriated. Your job is to make sure everybody else is happy, and if possible playing on tilt.
Decision-making is always a little worse for wear after a sumptuous meal and a little alcohol to grease the sides. Let the evening start out slowly, with tight play, and watch players drop more C notes on the table as the night wears on. That’s your cue to cash in with big pots!
3. Endure, Endure, Endure!
Nobody said it was going to be a cakewalk. Poker is a game of attrition. The best players have earned their titles, not because they happen to be at the right place at the right time like a progressive jackpot slots win.
The best players have earned their keep, and they repeatedly remain in the top echelons of poker’s all-time greats. This is testament to the enduring nature of poker skills and strategies. Sure, lady luck pays you a visit from time to time, but it’s your stamina, endurance, willpower, and playing smart that wins out in the end.
Put your skills to the test and deliver the coup de grace when the time is right. Everyone starts off with equal energy, but as the evening wears on, people start dropping like flies. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated, stay awake, and stay focused. Your endurance level determines your success in poker.
4. Don’t Show Your Cards
Remember William Shakespeare’s famous words: Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t”. In other words, let them think they know what you’re holding, or how to read you. Truth be told, there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. Keep a poker face at all times. Practice the art of revealing nothing. You can do it if you put your mind to it.
Emotionally-based play will often reveal itself in the expressions on your face. Don’t take the pressure to heart – remember this is your home game and you’ve got this!
5. Only Play Great Starting Hands
How many successful poker players do you know who play every hand? None. That’s the answer. Short and sweet. The world’s premier poker players wait for a good hand, even if it means sitting out more times than you want.
Everybody loves a pair of pocket rockets, but let’s be honest – that’s a rarity. If possible, buy your time… Wait for a great starting hand. It’s entirely possible to win a monster pot with a suited 7 and 8 of hearts. But this is something that occurs infrequently. If you are going to play a cruddy hand, you going to reduce your bankroll time and again. Avoid wasteful behaviour. There are no accolades for players who burn through their bankroll. Wait for a great starting hand, you’ll thank your lucky stars later!
6. Get Your Game On
Did you know that the number of poker players seated at your table determines the hands that you ought to be playing? When you have small connectors and 8+ players at your table, you’re better served by folding. When the number of players at the table diminishes, you can start opening up your game and playing more hands.
Remember, it’s all about high cards and kickers when you’ve got lots of players at the table. When there are fewer players at the table, you may stillness the flush, but your high card will still be good.
Another thing – be prepared to get your game on. Just because you play against your friends, or colleagues doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be competitive. If you play nice, you’re planning to lose. Rather play to win, and earn the respect of your peers.
7. Fold More Than You Play
If you think you’ve read this before, you’re correct! This tip is so important for crushing your home game that it’s worth reiterating with a different spin. If you want to live to see another day in poker, you’ve simply got to learn how to say no to cruddy starting hands. Don’t play them – plain and simple.
Some of the world’s best poker players are revered for not playing hands. They set out and watch everybody else battle for scraps and run down their bankrolls. The legendary Phil Helmuth once folded a big pair and told his wife that he could dodge bullets. Luckily, Helmuth was on the money because his opponent had a pair of bullets. Are you looking to emulate Phil Helmuth, or are you looking to go broke?
8. Stay In The Game
Remember Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman? You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs! In poker, if you’re not in the game, you’re on the rail – and that’s not where winners are made. Don’t waste your time sitting on the couch, drinking all the punch and watching reruns of the A-Team.
If there’s an opportunity to rebuy, do so. Most home poker games actually allow other players to get back in the game and compete for the poker pot. Make that call!