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Poker Parties are the Growing Thing

Poker parties are the growing Ďthingí these days, in the 20 to 30 age bracket. Where their fathers had weekend games, with the guys gathered round in t-shirts, in a room full of cigar smoke, the younger set likes to set up a more organized affair. So imagine it: a folding poker table in the living room, martinis in the kitchen, and custom printed card in the automatic shuffler. The host, as banker, passes out poker chips from a set of casino-style, regulation clay chips, the guy to his right gets the dealer puck, and the game beginsÖ. Thereís an ambience to all of that which is hard to ignore and harder to forget. A well done poker party reschedules itself. Why is Poker so Much Fun? Itís no surprise, really, that the rising popularity of poker parties has gone hand in hand with the rising popularity of online gaming generally, and online poker rooms particularly. The Internet is an incredible advance in communications, connecting people with each other, as well as with products. Poker, in many ways, falls into both categories. Itís a social game. Thatís really at the heart of its popularity, both in ďreal lifeĒ and on the Web. When you play poker, especially with a group of friends, youíre sitting around a table with your cards and your chips and maybe a drink, and thereís camaraderie there; talking is natural. In the online poker rooms, the gamers and the administrators both have created a system that allows as much as possible of that naturalness to come through. Poker Etiquette There are rules to playing poker online, and Iím not talking about the rules of the game. Those are the same online or offline. Iím talking about the rules for talking to each other, using the chat system in the room, and generally being social. In all online poker rooms, ďtable talkĒ is forbidden. Bridge players will know what I mean; using a series of codes to let other players know what your holding. This will get your IP address banned from an online poker room. Also, in many poker rooms, if you stop answering the chat, or skip your turn in the hand, youíre done for the game; theyíll assume youíve left the table. Now thereís a rule to like. The Excitement of the Game But thereís something that all poker games, whether online, or at a casino or martini bar, or in a living room, have in common, and thatís the thrill. Letís face it, poker is popular because itís an exciting game. Is it gambling? Yes, it is, and if you lose a big stakes game, you can really lose big. But itís not just gambling. Poker combines elements of casino chance with elements of player skill. Yes, you can get a bad hand, or a lousy hole card, but in the long run, if you know the game, you do well anyway. Thatís what really brings people back. Getting Started So now, youíre decided. Youíre gonna start a game. But what do you need? Youíve got a deck of cards, and a few boxes of matches, but is that enough? Of course, itís not enough. There are some essential supplies to give any game the right ambience. Youíll want a table, to start with. You donít have to buy a free standing poker table; you can find smaller folding tables, or even folding tops to place on your existing table. Poker tables are more than just a conceit; they have markings on them showing where to hold your cards and chips, who is the dealer, and were to put the pot. You can get by without a poker table, but if youíre new to the game, itíll sure make things easier on you. Youíll also want a good set of poker chips. Poker chips come in a lot of varieties, colors, weights, stylesÖ what to get is up to you. Casino regulations stipulate painted clay chips, at least 1

1.5 grams each, with the denomination printed on them. Casino poker chips like this arenít hard to find, and are usually reasonably priced. Your best bet is to buy a set of at least 250. Most poker games have 5 players, and youíll want enough chips to go around. Poker chips are also sold in batches of 500, 650, or even 1000. Again, how many you need is up to you. If youíre like me, shuffling cards is a challenge. There are automatic card shufflers available to do this for you, and theyíre fun to watch, too. Many casinos permit electronic shuffling at the table, so donít think that youíll be losing that Vegas spirit if you use one. This should get you started. Once youíre on the poker party bandwagon, youíll figure out what else you need!


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