The game of poker is back “in” again, thanks in large part to a lot of people rediscovering it online and through apps during the pandemic. And now that people have more opportunity to get together in person, it’s likely that good old-fashioned poker nights with friends will have a resurgence as well. We should note regarding in-person gatherings that there is some growing concerns of a winter surge of COVID-19 cases, and people will need to continue practicing proper precautions. So long as those precautions are taken though, small gatherings with friends should be on the table.
If the idea of an in-person poker night sounds good to you, and you’d like to do it while taking advantage of the outdoors, we have a few tips for how to organize just such a night….
Grab a Heater or Two
We realize that outdoor activity as winter approaches can be less than inviting. But after being cooped up indoors for the better part of two years, it’s worth considering how to make it work! If all you’re looking to do is host an outdoor poker night, one or two affordable outdoor heaters should make it comfortable. Throw in a fire pit, and you’ve got some crackling atmosphere as well!
Set Up String Lighting
Naturally, you have a lot of options when it comes to outdoor lighting for a poker night. We like string lights for the occasion though for three reasons. First, they tend to provide an almost inexplicably pleasant atmosphere. Second, they’re typically very easy to set up, even in a matter of just a few hours. And third, they’ll light your outdoor table sufficiently, but dimly. This is ideal for a poker game, where too much lighting can clash with the vague senses of intimacy and mystery the game inherently provides.
Get a Table Topper
Odds are you won’t be setting up a full poker table outside, unless you want to make this a very regular thing. But if you have outdoor furniture that will suffice, a poker table topper is a fairly cheap investment that will significantly improve the game. These toppers fold up fairly compactly, but can turn any table into a felt-topped poker surface with holders for chips and drink glasses. They just make the experience feel a little more official.
Put Something on the Line
You likely associate poker with betting already. That doesn’t mean every game has to involve high stakes, but even basic poker for beginners involves the practice of placing bets; it’s one of the fundamental aspects of the game. You can certainly set up a game with cash betting if your crowd is up for it, but even if thats’ not the case, having something on the line makes the game more real. You might play with chips and set aside a prize for whomever collects the most over the course of a night; you might buy candies or treats that can substitute for cash or chips. Whatever the specifics, the best home poker nights include betting components, even if no money is involved.
Have a Few Practice Rounds
It’s a quick tip, but you’ll always want to have a few practice rounds at a home poker night as well. This is essential if anyone in the crowd is new to the game, or if people haven’t played in a while. Even if the table is fairly experienced though, a few practice rounds serve as useful warm-ups, and help ensure everyone is on the same page regarding rules and game etiquette.
Put Out Blankets!
Finally, we suggest investing in a few good outdoor blankets to drape over chairs for guests to use. This is something we mentioned in a previous post on outdoor party décor (another piece in which the majesty of string lights came up!), and it’s an excellent touch for a poker night or any other outdoor occasion. While heaters are a nice touch for warming up a whole area, nothing quite beats a blanket for coziness in the outdoors. I’ll make a lengthy game session all the more pleasant.
These are fairly simple steps in the end, and they’ll help set the stage for a whole new tradition of at-home gatherings.