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By: Mike Tennant

Poker players of the world are descending upon Sin City this very minute as the 2010 World Series of Poker officially kicks off this weekend at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The ever-expanding event will run through July 17, resulting in almost two full months of poker madness. The event will culminate with the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournament, dubbed the Main Event.

Thanks in part to the television coverage and publicity garnered by the WSOP, and the main event in particular, poker has taken off across the United States, as well as the rest of the world. When I was in college, my friends would hold a game at least once a week. Sure, it wouldn’t be anything too serious, but there was definitely money to be won. After a few months, and then years, of playing regularly, we were all getting good. We dreamed of one day sitting down at the Main Event and trying to win our share of the multi-million dollar prize. The only problem was that none of us could afford the $10,000 buy-in.

So rather than try to find a wealthy sponsor to pay our way into the event, we decided to hold our own poker world series, complete with a no-limit hold ’em main event tournament. Rather than finding a way to Vegas, we brought Vegas right to our little makeshift poker room. The best part was realizing just how easy it was to put together a poker night worthy of the WSOP. Below are the most important steps, so you too can hold a top-notch poker night for your friends.

1. Make a proper table

The most important aspect of the table is a felt playing surface, which you can buy at any sort of craft store or online retailer. In addition to looking like a real poker surface, felt makes it easier to deal cards without them sliding all over, as well as move chips without any problems. Green is the standard for most poker rooms, but you can use any color you like. In terms of the actual table, it may be tricky to find one you can add a felt surface to – the cheap folding card tables are typically too small for big poker games. Rather than destroying a nice table, find a flat wooden board at a home improvement store or even dumpster diving. Attach the felt to the board with glue, staples or any other manner you can think of, and use your new felt board as a table topper for any surface in your home. Not only can you take it with you to wherever the game is that night, you can also customize it with paint, decals or anything else you want to truly make it original, all without destroying your furniture.

2. Ventilate the room

Poker has become synonymous with cigars, especially in the more casual settings. If smoking is allowed in your poker room, be sure to ventilate the area properly to keep the non-smokers happy. A fan is probably your best bet, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They’ll also do a good job of keeping your players cool, especially if the room doesn’t have air conditioning. Some of the best electric fans are both powerful and inexpensive compared to other venting and cooling options.

3. Invest in high quality chips

One of the best things about playing in a real casino is playing with the high quality clay chips that each one uses. A poker game just doesn’t feel important if you’re stuck using cheap, lightweight plastic chips. Sure, it may set you back a few extra dollars, but in the long run, both you and your buddies will be much happier with the heavier chips. As an added bonus, you can get nice poker chips customized to your liking with different colors, designs and logos. It’s essentially like having your own casino.

4. Stock up on refreshments

Starting with the obvious, a variety of drinks are necessary if you want to make your poker room stand out. The best poker rooms in Vegas have cocktail waitresses serving anything you can imagine. Now you don’t need to have waitresses on poker night (although it wouldn’t hurt), but a wide variety of drink options – both alcoholic and non – can go a long way. In terms of munchies, having two different types of food available is usually a good idea. One can be easy to eat while playing at the table – like pretzels, non-greasy chips, etc. You should also have something more substantial available for consumption during breaks or for those knocked out of the tournament. Pizza is an easy go-to here, especially since it can be delivered mid-game.

5. Learn a few new games

Your mileage may vary here depending on how long you’ve been playing poker and what type of crowd you expect to host for your game. Some people really enjoy Texas Hold ‘Em and would rather play that than anything else. Others get bored quickly and prefer to have a wide variety of games available. It is a good idea to learn a few new games so you can change things up if necessary. The World Casino Directory has a good list of poker variations for you to read up on. Some of the standards that are included in the WSOP include different variations of Omaha, Razz and Stud poker. You really can’t go wrong with any of these, but it’s important to remember that the simpler the game, the quicker your players will pick it up and agree to bet money on it.

Mike Tennant is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle topics and issues. A recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Mike currently works with Air and Water Inc to develop portable air conditioner guides and vows to one day qualify for the WSOP Main Event.

Tags : Card GamesCasinoCigarsFoodGamblingLas VegasMain EventPoker ChipsPoker TableRefreshmentsTexas Hold 'EmWorld Series of PokerWSOP

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