2021 is widely expected to be a particularly social year, once we get a little further into it. People will be back at movies and restaurants, attending live sporting events, hitting the bars at night, and so on, perhaps signifying the beginning of a sort of second “roaring ‘20s” era.
But for a lot of us, one of the most satisfying aspects of a more social year will be the opportunity to have people over — simply gathering at home with family and friends and not a care in the world.
That will mean cookouts, board game nights, gathering to watch games, and more. As we discussed last year regarding unforgettable guys’ nights though, another fun option for social, at-home entertainment is a poker night. It’s something not all that many people do these days, but it’s just the sort of activity we could see more of specifically as a result of the pandemic.
Friends and family who haven’t been able to hang out together in a while might just be looking for things like poker as an excuse to establish some regular social time.
So, for anyone else thinking this way, we have some tips to make a home poker night as fun as it can be.
1. Use a Fold-Up Poker Table Topper
Playing poker around a kitchen table or coffee table is just fine. As long as there’s room for everybody and a clear surface, the game can be enjoyed. Nevertheless, there’s something about playing on an actual, felt poker table that elevates the experience for everyone.
It makes it a little easier to stay focused on the action, and it makes the game feel a bit more like an event you’re enjoying together. And the good news is, it’s pretty easy to turn this option into a reality. While a full, quality poker table can be both expensive and cumbersome, fold-up toppers are quite affordable and easy to use. You can essentially turn that kitchen or coffee table into a respectable replica of a true casino poker table.
2. Use Real Chips
This is basically the same idea as using a real poker table (or a fold-up top that mimics one). Playing poker without chips, or even with cheap plastic ones, just feels somewhat less special. It makes it more like someone just decided to whip out a deck of cards when in reality you and your friends have intentionally planned a poker night.
Using real chips, however, elevates the occasion a little bit. There’s just something about handling them that helps every one to get into the game a little more (and feel a little more like a Vegas high-roller!).
3. Hang a Chalkboard with Basic Info
Even if you know your friends are up for a poker night, it’s important to allow for the fact that they won’t all necessarily know the ins and outs of the game as well as you might. For this reason, it’s a nice touch to hang up a chalkboard that has some basic information on it. You can list the different poker hands in the order in which they are valued (so that anyone can simply take a glance if he or she is unsure about how cards rank).
Also, you can post whatever buy-in amount in chips you’ve established for each hand. You can even jot down a step-by-step guide to how hands are played, in terms of the sequence of dealing, betting, and choosing new cards. It doesn’t take much time to set something like this up, and it’ll make it that much easier for everyone to enjoy the game.
4. Play a Bit of Music
Whether or not you take this advice is more of a matter of personal choice, but we like the idea of some low-volume music during a poker night to keep things from feeling too dry or serious. While we like the idea of enhancing the poker night with real equipment and clear rules and information, there can still be something awkward about sitting around a game with friends in silent concentration.
A little bit of background music can help to keep the vibe relaxed and make it easier for the group to carry on a conversation and “hang out” while playing. All in all, it just makes for a more enjoyable night.
5. Ready the Right Cocktails
Finally, there’s the drink menu to consider! Provided everyone is safe about it, of course, a poker night can be properly elevated with some of the right beverages on hand. If you happen to know what your crowd most enjoys, this should be easy.
If not, you might want to look into the trendy drinks of the moment (such as a New York sour or a classic martini in 2021), or look up some of the most popular drinks served in casinos. Whatever you end up with specific, having a drink menu planned makes for a nice finishing touch in your planning.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to welcome friends and family back into your home over the course of the year to come. But if a poker night sounds like a good option, we hope this little guide will help you to make it all the more fun.