Home game reports

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  • Creator
  • #23736

    Mike Caro
    -- Poker1 staff --

    Share your reports about home poker games throughout the world.

    Some possible things to include:

    • Are yours legal?
    • What are the stakes?
    • How easy is it to find a game?
    • Did you start your own?
    • Any special rules?
    • How skillful are opponents?
    • Any issues with cheating?
    • Is it cash, credit, or both?
    • Anything else.

    Please DON’T give specifics about location or names of those participating. — Mike Caro

    (Also see “Real Holdem” by Superpowers, the topic that inspired this one.)
    Straight Flushes,Mike Caro

  • Author
  • #23751

    Rocco Merolli

    One of my favorite topics! :-) Thanks for the suggestions on what to hit on. I guess Ill go right down the list, and try and pass on what Ive found works and helps and what doesnt.
    Are they legal? – Overall answer is no. But there is a grey area, where what is illegal is playing in a raked game. So Ive seen many poker games, that instead of saying they charge a rake, instead say its a “donation”. The money changing hands could still be a problem, which is why cash usually never plays in home games Ive been involved with. With only chips on a table, if law enforcement was to come in, there is no proof of any actual money. And you can say your just practicing as a part of a league, or something similar to that.
    Stakes- From what Ive found, the most popular is $1/2-$2/5 and $5/5. Both NLHE and Omaha variations (including O8, and NLO). I will say, in my experience, that once you start looking for a bigger game then $2/5 or, that they are usually private games where you have to know someone to get in. Anyone thats looking for medium stakes games and higher, can usually also find some though the local players that travel nightly to all the games in town. Here, there are about 7-10 different games a weeks that I have come across just from becoming “known” as a local a regular in private games. (I think the previous paragraph also covers where and how to find a game).
    Did you start you own?- Yup, and closed it down 3 months later. To many games sprung up, and with a limited player pool it can be very hard to keep individual game economies alive. This part would cover do rooms give credit or only what you have. Very typical, you will end up having to give credit if you run a game at some point in time. You will either have to run a credit to keep a game from breaking, or do it to get one started. For anyone interested or thinking about running their own, there are ways to help this cause. By offering promotions, which most private games I know of do usually run. Sometimes its a “high-hand” of the night bonus, or a 10% addon bonus if your one of the first 5 players seated. You have to remember to adjust your “donations” per pot though. Typically, for something like a high hand bonus, and extra $1 will be taken out of the pot for every pot over $20 (as an example in a 1/2 game). At the end of the night, the person that has hit the highest hand of the night gets what has accrued. So it doesnt cost your room anything, but does draw people and does well at keeping them in the game longer. Theres tons of other promos you can run with your own game, another one is that the room puts up $500 freeroll tournament every month. Every time you show up to a game within the first hour, you get 2K chips. At the end of the month, the freeroll plays out. (Again, make sure to adjust accordingly!).
    Cheating- Its a very fine line with this one. Often, you can have a couple players that like to attempt to “angle”, or do some thing that most players would consider unscrupulous in a poker game. But as for professional cheaters, and teams… That doesnt seem to happen. I think its probably because at most home games, people are more acquainted with eachother then at a casino. So if something was suspicious it would arise quickly. As a matter of fact, there was an instance here, were a game owner and a dealer were caught over-raking the pot, and they lost their players almost immediately. The one BIG unfortunate thing, at least something thats been happening here are games being held up. I got very lucky a couple weeks ago, that I didnt go to a game that I go to very regularly. That night three people walked in with shotguns, and even had a flashbang deployed as they entered the room. They shot the shot guns off twice, but didnt shoot anyone. That room happened to have a bad bead jackpot, as well as the regular bank, and the robbers made off with a little more then $30K of our collective money. This doesnt happen very often… But its worth it to note, that whenever you go to an illegal poker game, this can happen. And there is no retaliation for it. I personally dont think its something to be afraid of, and if it happens, it happens. It shouldnt stop you from going to games where you feel comfortable and are acquainted with people though.

    And with that last thought, of just keeping your safety in mind, I think thats everything I can think of :-)

    P.S…. In no means, did I mean for this to be directions on how to open an illegal poker room. But if you need tracking templates, let me know ;-)

    • #23755

      Mike Caro
      -- Poker1 staff --

      Wow, Rocco. That was a complete reply — and very useful. It sounds as if the games you’re familiar with are very much like the ones in Texas that Doyle Brunson and Bobby Baldwin described to me decades ago. They were always subject to being robbed, or “hijacked” as they called it.

      One thing I didn’t get from your post was what region you’re talking about. If it’s Texas, then private games are legal there, I think, so the authorities could have been notified of the armed robbery.

      Excellent information. Thanks.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro
      [FOLLOW-UP: I see that you’re talking about Massachusetts, from your post in another thread.]

  • #23777


    Hi, I live in Canada, Qc (french province). Out here, gambling is controled by the government. So, it’s illegal to gamble except if the rake is going to “Loto-Québec”, like in our casinos. You can also play at the playground pokerclub in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, which is legal.

    So, it takes me one hour and a half to drive to Montreal for the casino or the playground to play legally. There are few home games in my town. They often are in clubs. We find more tournaments (20$ to 100$) then cash games (50¢/50¢ to 1$/2$). It’s not so easy to find, you need to know someone who plays there, or to visit the right clubs and see some tables in the rear section. There is no publicity, because it’s in the grey area of legality like said Rocco.

    Opponents are really weak, because it’s low stakes. But I fear of getting cheated. I suspected two regular players of playing as a team, which is why I stopped playing at all live games in my town.

    Have a nice day,
    Vincent Martin.

    • #23849

      Mike Caro
      -- Poker1 staff --

      Thanks, Vincent —
      My only adventures playing poker in Canada so far have been in Vancouver, where I visited a very nicely run legal poker room and in a Regina casino, where I did a seminar in the middle of winter.
      Both positive experiences.
      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

    • #23892


      I cut my poker teeth at Point Edward Casino in Sarnia Ontario!

  • #23793

    Rocco Merolli

    Yeah Mike, sorry about that. Im in MA, U.S.A. As for the games similar to Bobby and Doyle, I imagine they ran into those situations much more often then I do these days! :-) I started playing at home games when I was 19, Im currently 31. Ive been in two games while they were hijacked, and was lucky to avoid a third (the one I mentioned). 3 times in 13 or so years is a pretty small probability, lol. Ive always imagined the old texas road gamblers would see this type of thing a few times a week or month. I believe these days, the home games are much much safer. I failed to mention the security required for most home games. These days, a typical room, there will only be two entrances and exits, and one will be totally locked and blocked off. The main entrance should have more then one door and one point in order to enter. (Example, having to open and get through a first door, enter a hallways and go to a second entrance behind where the game is). There are almost always camera’s on DVR’s, connected to a tv (or multiple, for multiple entries and views) that someone (or, at some, the entire game) watches. As players approach the first door, they need to contact someone in the game to come and get them and must be vouched for if its a player that is not known in the game. You should also have a few other cameras set up around the property so you are aware of anyone approaching the building and specifically any entry points to the building. There are many other safe guards also… but I hesitate to include them on public forums. But these guards are very typical for any game, and should be set up and installed within the first week the game is open. It guards against multiple things also, not only people approaching that might have weapons, or just unkowns that are trying to scope out the property. It of course also warns of any authority approaching the game also, and gives ample time for the floor manager or owners to prepare for searches, etc… Also, I will hint at it, only because of the publicness of this forum. But if you build a big enough game, I have seen many “authorities” decide to play in the game instead of trying to shut it down. And you can be assured, that those players will “win”… ensuring the continuation of your game. (Note: I no longer own a game or run them, and have no intention too. To many headaches, and Im strictly now a player only. Only reason I feel ok saying some of this)

    • #23850

      Mike Caro
      -- Poker1 staff --

      Rocco — Great feedback, as usual. Cameras, I believe, should send footage directly to “the cloud” for offsite storage, so it can’t be stolen. — Mike Caro

  • #23865

    Rocco Merolli

    Never even thought of that one Mike! I know they usually dont keep footage. Its usually re-recorded over the previous night. As there as there wasnt any issues, no one felt the need to keep it, as it just seemed like incriminating information that didnt need to be kept around, lol.

  • #23880


    Legal? The cops play in my game. Not worried as long as they win!

  • #23881


    Also, my neighbors asked me if all the people coming to my home are there for bible study. My reply….a lot of praying goes on at my house Wednesday night.

  • #23882


    I am not complacent about security, but not too concerned. Guns are a big part of the Texan culture. Most of my players are packing a gun while at the table. Criminals know this…also my game is where the cops play. The cops refer to my game as “book club.” Someone seriously needs to make a movie about this.

  • #23893



    Get a huge crockpot. Place 4-5 roasts in it cover in powdered Italian dressing mix packets – 1 packet per roast. Cook for 12 hours on low. Thin slice with electric knife the place back in juices. Serve on philly bun with sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers. (I use the frozen pre chopped fajita vegetable mix.

    Seriously – My players will eat 3 to 5 sandwiches each. I advertise Italian beef night in the game text and my seats fill instantly.

    • #23895

      Mike Caro
      -- Poker1 staff --

      Sound delicious. And if it draws the right kind of players, even better.

  • #24654


    I live in Western NE. and gambling is illegal here, there are some home games around here that I have went to and have been not invited back to them, was told I was to aggressive for their game. So now I have to travel 4 hours to get to any kind of casino to play and with the limits on online poker I do not play as much as I need too!

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