Poker Essays

Organising a Live Poker Tournament

September 2008

Poker tournaments are a lot of fun. It's fun to watch them on television, when you can see all the cards and how the pro's make the decisions that win them millions of dollars on shows such as the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. They're fun to play in too. It's becoming more and more common for people to host their own live poker tournaments, as a poker tournament is a wonderfully entertaining, highly social activity for an evening with friends. Here are some considerations for those of you planning to arrange your own live Texas Holdem tournament.

First, you should be aware that in most jurisdictions hosting a poker tournament is legal as long as the host is not making a profit from the game. Still, to be safe, you should look into your local statutes regarding this subject.

Make sure you have all the equipment set up and ready to go before your competitors arrive. This includes two different colored decks of card for each table, tables to accommodate all the competitors, enough chips for all the players, and some way to time the rounds. If you want to hire professional dealers that's great, but usually players can deal for themselves. It's also nice if you have some refreshments available. It's okay to have each player put in an extra dollar or two to chip in for this.

You can play in your own poker tournament if you want, but realize it will be difficult because you will have many responsibilities. It's up to you to break down tables as seats open up, and to move players if tables need evening out. You'll also have to settle all disputes. If you are playing, you should appoint someone else to handle disputes in case you are one of the players involved in the dispute.

Make sure the buy in for your tournament isn't so high that players are going to be miserable if they fail to cash. In fact, depending on how many players you have, you should probably make the buy in low enough that you can get in two or three tournaments in an evening. Typically, tournaments pay 10 percent of the players, with the winner getting a little more than a third of the total prize pool. You can distribute the prize pool however you like, but make sure the players know and approve of the prize distribution before you start.

Finally, be sure to have something for players that are knocked out to do. Nothing is worse than to be the first player out of the tournament and have to sit around twiddling your thumbs for hours while you wait for the tournament to end. Televisions tuned to sporting events, computer terminals available for online Holdem play and separate tables for cash games or "losers" tournaments are all great options to entertain early exiting guests.

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