Pub poker continues to be a decent draw, with leagues all over the country offering prizes for players, and punters for pubs. Here's our guide to running a perfect poker event.
1. Get an expert
Poker is full of rules that can be baffling to beginners, so make sure you have someone running the night who can take charge and settle any disputes that may arise.
2. Choose your format
Poker comes in various guises but Texas Hold 'Em is the most popular and the majority of players will be familiar with it.
3. Get the chips in part 1
You don't need much in the way of equipment but playing cards and poker chips are a must. You can get the full kit online or even at a second-hand shop without having to pay a fortune. You'll also need a table, but we're assuming you have one already. Join a league and these should be provided for you. Cigars and sun visors are optional.
4. Team up with a league
Linking with a league is popular because it takes some of the admin away from you and allows players the chance to compete on a wider scale. If they win your pub league they can qualify for regional and national events with bigger prizes.
Oliver Sherrington, managing director of pub poker league operator Hi 5 Poker, says: "A poker night is very much about the social element. Imagine the stereotypical poker night, where a group of friends have a game in their kitchen over a few beers and some takeaway pizza. Our aim is to recreate this type of environment in the pub and provide a place where people can make friends with one another, have some banter and a bit of fun."
5. Get the chips in part 2
Poker can take a while, so the players will need food and drink. Many pubs provide snacks such as sarnies and chips to keep them sustained for the poker and for buying more drinks.
6. Make them feel special
Poker is a game of skill and it requires concentration, which means your players will not take too kindly to being squeezed between a karaoke session and a stag do. You don't necessarily need a separate room but a dedicated table and table service in a quieter area is a minimum requirement.
7. Target quiet times
Think about the best time to host your poker night. The quieter the better, as it will boost your trade and mean the game can be played in relative calm.
8. Don't expect miracles
If you can get up to a dozen regular players you are doing well. It might not sound huge but according to Hi 5 Poker you could expect to make up to £15,000 extra a year if you get 20 players each spending £15 a week.
9. Know the law
It's worth a quick look at the rules covering pub poker on the Gambling Commission website to ensure you are not running an illegal poker event. Headlines are that the maximum buy-in per player is £5 and the total buy-in for the pub for the day is £100. £100 is also the maximum prize for a game. You are not allowed to charge participation fees and only over 18s can play.
10. Incentivise players
That said, you can incentivise people to play. Hi 5 Poker recommends deals for players such as 15 per cent off food bills for the night or "buy two pints get the third free".
11. Let people know
Social media, posters and — perhaps most importantly of all — staff all play a part here. Hi 5 also recommends creating a poker display and running taster sessions for beginners.
12. Play the long game
If you are going to do it, commit to it. Poker games can take up a good chunk of the evening to play and leagues will run for weeks, if not months. If you deal the right hand, though, you should find you get players who come for their regular poker and make your pub their local.