The 4 Steps to Hosting a Poker Game Like Gatsby
If you are planning to throw the poker party of your life, and you’d like to do it in style, here are some things to consider. This article only covers the basics, so the sky is the limit to how you are going to organize your Gatsby-esque event. Let’s dive in!
Step One: The People
You can’t have a poker night without poker players. But to ensure that the event goes smoothly, it’ll behoove you not to allow the following people to play.
• People Who Can’t Hold Their Nerves – Emotions run high when money is involved. If you want to host a classy game, you need only to invite people who can keep their cool when losing. Of course, everybody can lose their temper for whatever reason. Even the most levelheaded people are prone to outbursts. Nevertheless, if you have friends who explode easily, better keep them off the table. Unless, of course, having a home brawl is your thing.
• People Who Can’t Hold Their Liquor – Whatever applies to emotions, goes to liquor as well. Alcohol is a mood changer, and even otherwise calm people can turn into a nightmare when inebriated. While poker is often portrayed as a game that can’t be played without alcohol, keeping a cool head ensures a pleasant and accident-free game. Besides, letting friends play drunk is not fair to them and is as unfriendly as it gets. To some, it might be fun to watch a drunk friend throw out hard-earned cash, but there is no honor in it.
• People Who Don’t Know How to Play – The third group of people that you need to keep off the table is newbies. If you are playing for fun (not for real money) or arrange to teach others how to play, then by all means, you can invite them. However, if you are playing for money, it is a jerk move to take advantage of someone who doesn’t know how to play. Let them observe, and if they are eager to get in on the action, make sure that they can cut their losses on time. Remember that you are hosting a game like Gatsby. You need to be a gentleman and make sure that no one leaves your party feeling like a washcloth.
• People Who Tend to Cheat or Lie – Some people are pathological cheaters and liars. They can’t help themselves (well, they can, but don’t want to). Such people have no place on the felt. One of the surest ways to get yourself a bloody poker game is to let in cheaters. Keep in mind that (most likely) you don’t have a dedicated security team and video surveillance to be on the watch out for cheaters. When it comes to home games, integrity is mostly left to each person’s moral compass. Make sure to only let to the table those whose compasses are in check.
• People Who Have/Had Gambling Addiction Problems – A big one. If anybody in your circle has or has a history of addiction problems, it’s best to let them sit this one out. It’s harsh, but better not let them in on the temptation. It’s especially the case with current or former gambling addicts. It’s easy to say that it’s only a “home game” so there is a limit to the amount of damage, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s because of the more casual setting that people can quickly lose the grip on their wallet.
Step Two: The Table
Having a real poker table will make the difference between “meh” and “wow.”
• Clear Out Space – The traditional poker game is for eight players. So, you’ll need to make enough space to fit a table and chairs for eight along with all the necessary supplies. Also, allow for some spectators. If the poker game will be the centerpiece of the night, place the table in a central location like a living room. But make sure that there is easy access to other spaces if a player needs to stretch their legs or visit the restroom. If you have limited space, you might have to limit the players. Alternatively, ask a friend with a bigger home to host.
• Get a Dealer/Learn to Deal – For a real casino feel, you’ll need proper dealing. So, no players acting as dealers. If you want to impress your guests, you can even hire a dealer. Another option is to learn how to deal like a pro. Play some videos from poker tournaments and observe how dealers behave. Their moves are sharp, calculated and always visible to everybody.
• Quality Cards and Chips – Depending on how long you play, the cards might get damaged. To avoid looking like a sloppy poker game host, get a couple of quality decks. If you are not confident in your shuffling skills, you can also purchase an automatic shuffler. To go the extra mile, also get some chips. They are not expensive and having them will boost your game’s appeal and authenticity.
• Good Felt – You need the green. No, not dollars, though you need them, too. But you need to get a felt. It makes dealing easier, it looks good and it shows that you pay attention to details. Without a felt, all you have is a bunch of people throwing cards around. With the velvety green surface, you are saying, “we mean business.”
• Rent it Out – If all of the above seems like lots of trouble, you can rent all the necessary items. Provided it’ll cost you more, but at least you’ll be sure that you’ve got everything necessary for a good poker night. How you proceed depends on how much you’d like to show off.
Step Three: The Liquor
Photo Source: Distillery Trail
Let’s face it: liquor is an integral part of parties. Especially if the guests would like to get their Gatsby/Bond vibe on. Here are some suggestions on where to focus on honing your mixology skills.
• On the Rocks – First, cover the basics: whiskey, vodka and gin. These are the alcohol varieties that’d also serve as a basis for the next suggestions. You don’t need a Ph.D. in chemistry to mix them up, though if your bartending game is weak, you can also ask a more experienced friend to lend you a helping hand.
• Manhattan/Old-Fashioned – These two signature cocktails are likely all you’ll need in your whiskey-cocktail repertoire. Whiskey, bitters, orange peel. Classic, classy, mature.
• Negroni/Vesper – For those who prefer the aroma of juniper, there is the Negroni. Of course, you can’t go without paying homage to 007 by shaking up a Vesper, either.
• Martini – This one is an all-time favorite and as pokerish as it gets. Shaken, not stirred! But do not forget the ladies and pick up some apple juice for an appletini (though nothing says that the gentlemen can’t enjoy it, too).
• Virgin – A considerate host also thinks about the guests who do not drink alcohol. If you have any such friends, you’d also need to stock up on ingredients for virgin cocktails. Having non-alcoholic drinks is a good idea even if everybody drinks alcohol. You won’t have a good poker night if you indulge in booze. Make it classy and ensure that the liquor is only there to help with having a good time, not to render everybody incapable of getting home.
Step Four: The Entertainment
If you can’t afford a DJ, you can always curate a playlist.
Only because you are organizing a poker night doesn’t mean that all guest will want to play or that you have to spend all your time at the table. You need to consider other needs as well.
• Catering/Hire a Chef – If you are planning a Gatsby-style smashing, then the party will go on for some time. People will get hungry. Add to that the consumed liquor, and there is no way that you can overlook the food. If you’ve got the wallet for it, you can get some catering or better yet, hire a chef. Otherwise, you’ll have to pull out your chef’s knife and do your best to offer some worthy meals. So, chips and peanuts won’t do. On the other hand, you don’t need to go overboard with filet mignon and truffle ice cream, either.
• Band/DJ/Playlist – Having some background tunes will keep the guests entertained and can set the mood for the night. Here again, your options depend on your budget. If you can hire a band or a DJ, then you’ll have some quality music without having to spend hours compiling playlists. If you prefer to go the DIY approach, you need to think about what your guests like and what mood you’d like to set for the party. If you are going for a “Casino Royale” feel, some light jazz will be more suitable than blasting Justin Bieber (sorry, Beliebers!). Services such as Spotify or Deezer are great for creating your custom playlist. Or you can enjoy a list someone else has made such as this Great Gatsby Party Playlist on Spotify.
• Event Planning Service – Throwing a party to be remembered for is exhausting. You need to think about a million things, and there’s still a chance that you’ll overlook something. In such a case, you can turn to a professional event planning service. You’ll get a dedicated team of professional party organizers who’ll likely think of things that you haven’t even considered. Hiring a party agency will put some strain on your bank account, but then again, Gatsby never worried about that.
Getting a bunch of friends to sit on the couch and watch TV is one thing. But throwing a ball is another animal altogether. After taking care of the big things, pay attention to the details; for they are what will make you the master of parties. And as always, check your local laws before hosting any gambling.