The first thing you should do before planning a home poker tournament is to check the laws in your area. Each state and in some places, even the county you live in have laws regarding gambling. In most cases the laws restrict anyone from making a profit from the tournament. This means you can’t charge an extra fee for entering the tournament. Any money collected for entering the tournament should be added to the prize pool and distributed to the winners. Your local laws may differ.
Questions to ask yourself before sending out the invitations:
What game are you going to play?While there are a great number of different poker games, the most popular version these days is No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em. This is what everybody watches on TV and will likely be familiar to everybody you invite.
How much are we playing for?A home poker tournament should be more about having a group of friends over and having a good time rather than about winning a large sum of money. Consider the tournament a night of entertainment for your guests. Dinner and a movie will run between $20 – $30 dollars. This is a good place to start and is likely in everybody’s comfort zone.
Will you allow re-buys?Playing No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em means that it’s possible for players to lose all their chips very quickly. Allowing players to purchase more chips if they lose them all during a specific amount of time is one way to make sure that everybody gets a chance to play for an ample amount of time prior to being relegated to watching the tournament from the sidelines. The other benefit to re-buys is the additional money in the prize pool for the winners. Set the number of rounds for which you will allow re-buys.
Will you allow add-ons?While a re-buy lets someone buy more chips once they have lost all theirs, an add-on is a way to let all players, regardless of the amount of chips they have, to purchase more chips. There is usually a specific time for making the add-on purchase and once that time has passed, no additional chips can be purchased. At this point, if you lose all your chips, you are out of the tournament for good. It’s typical for re-buys and add-ons to be available for the first hour of play.
How many chips do you get?The physical number of chips is going to depend on how many chips you own or can borrow. The chip values, in reality don’t matter either since everybody is going to be starting with the same total value in chips. However, to make it easiest on yourself and your players, I suggest keeping to a pretty simple formula. Start each player with $2000 in chips. The configuration that I start each player with looks like this:(10) $5 chips(10) $25 chips(7) $100 chips(2) $500 chips
In order to make this as easy as possible, make the cost of the initial buy-in, re-buys and add-ons the same cash value and worth the same number of tournament chips.