Home NL Hold 'Em Poker Question

A bunch of guys in my neighborhood started a poker night and we recently had our 3rd meeting. We started out playing a lot of “dealer’s choice” games with one Hold 'Em tournament, but have migrated to strictly Hold 'Em tournaments.

We have re-buys for the first 2 out, escalate blinds on a schedule, have a pay-out for the top 3 places, and have a decent game. The problem is that guys end up sitting out as the tournament progresses and it gets boring for them to watch.

Any recommendations for how to run a better home NL Hold’em tourney? Is there a way to switch to NL non-tourney (i.e., a sash game) without making it a very unfriendly game? Most everyone is against switching to limit HE.

You’re part of this new generation that wants to play poker without any risk. . .buy into your “tournament” with $5 and play it out. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It’s a terrible way to run a “Thursday Night Poker” game. Like you said, people wind up sitting out more than they’re playing poker.

For starters, no-limit cash games are fun, and there’s no reason that they should be “unfriendly”. If you’re concerned about your neighbor, or your friend losing their $20, then you’re just not going to have a good poker game.

We used to play a lot of pot-limit in my game. We’d play with small blinds, .10-.20. But recognize that you might be forced to push in $5 on a hand if it gets to that point. Pots can be $1.00, $1.50 before the flop.

If you want to do that, make sure you’re up on the structure (e.g., if there’s a dollar in the pot, and you bet the dollar, I’m allowed to raise $3 – the value of the pot after my “call”).

Make sure you’re clear on table stakes, and that people have their cash prominently displayed.

I had a similar issue with my home games, here’s how I solved it:

Instead of running one tournament in the evening with a $20 buyin (for example), run several with $5 buyins (and no re-buying). Low stakes and the knowledge that there will be another game after this one tend to make people more aggressive which leads to shorter tournaments (and hence people sitting out for shorter periods).

What we eventually ended up doing was keeping a ‘tab’ for the evening (5 buyins -1 first place and 2 3rds = up $5 at the end of the night for example).

This has the added benefit of tending to minimize losses and keeping the game fun and light (we’re actually good card players, a few of my crew make liveable money playing internet poker, but between ourselves we’re strictly for beers and laughs)

This should work in the case of 1 table’s worth of games (8 people or so). if you have 2+ tables going you may have to find another solution. I recommend against cash games as they have a tendency to escalate into unpleasantness a little too easily, plus peer pressure can (even unwittingly) cause people to dip a little deeper into the wallet than might be sensible for them.

PL with small .10-.20 blinds may be a good solution. None of us are worried about losing $20, as the “bring with you amount” is $60. However, NL with higher stakes could get ugly very quick.

Yeah, that’s a good game.

NL and PL really can get pretty close to each other. You’d be surprised at how infrequently some really pushes in $50, or something, in a NL cash game at those stakes.

And, surprised at how quickly .10-.20 PL can turn into firing $10 bets at each other.

It’s at least worth trying out if you’re looking for something fun. I think that PL poker (particulary Omaha, and Hold Em) is the best way to play.

If you had two tables, the people who go out early could start their own dealer’s choice table.

  1. Make the game a $25 buy-in NL game, so that if they bust that they can buy back in as many times as they feel comfortable.

  2. Have the losers start a cash game after they are booted from the tourney.

  3. Buy an XBox 360 and create a ‘loser’s lounge’ for those who are out to entertain themselves.

We play a NL HE cash game. We have tried to have “gentleman betting”, where we didn’t raise more than $5 to $8 at the most (the buy-in was $40). The problems happen when the sizes of the bets don’t get people to fold, so more and more suck outs occur. That really aggravates people, and the gentleman’s agreement goes right out the window.

When we played dealer’s choice games, we would let people who had lost $40 play hands for free. If they won the hand, then they were eligible for half of the pot, with the other half going to the next best hand. However, that causes hard feelings, too.

Another problem with gentlemen’s agreements is that some people push them both ways, betting $1 here and there when they have a good hand when you are used to .50 max raising, or claiming that the standard gentlemen’s raise was a quarter when you want to be 50 and are doing pretty good that day, both of which have happened to me.

As you’ve discovered, gentleman’s betting won’t work in what is supposed to be a NL cash game. If people are worried about losing their $40 buy-in, you need to start with a smaller buy-in (say $10); with rebuys, you may end up with close to the same amount of money in play and players that get to play more and a chance to win back their money from the suckouts.

That’s exactly what we did when we had poker nights.

This is the key. Have a TV in the room with a game on. Have a dart board ready. Have a X-Box at the ready. Anything that can keep people entertained. Also, get a cheap live game started.

Another thing we did at mine (in order to keep people from stomping out pissed off) was that after each person was knocked out, they had to deal until THEY knocked someone out. This works well at a live game. If someone went bust they could deal for “tips” until they had enough to buy back in.