Tips for Entering a New Home Game. by Amber Dean
Four Rules to follow when being invited to someone’s home game for the first time.
Kick your etiquette up a notch but don’t dial back the aggression.
It happens, you overhear someone talking about a home poker game at the grocery store or gas station you frequent, or maybe it’s Charlie from accounting talking to someone in the cafeteria about how he did at his home game as soon as you her the words “home game” or “poker” your ears perk up, your pace quickens, and you can’t help but be interested. Later, you ask that clerk or Charlie about the home game you heard them talking about and one thing leads to another and sure enough you get invited to join them.
So what can you expect and how should you act when you get to this strange game at a stranger’s home?
Here are four simple rules to follow when taking up an invitation to a new home game.
1) Pay attention. Pay attention to everything. You are in someone else’s poker space with people you do not know and that don’t know you. This is a time when all of your poker senses and all of your social graces should be on high alert! Introduce yourself to the host and other players if no one else bothers to. Be friendly. Be social. Pay attention to how things are run at this game and try to conform to the established routine. Nothing is more annoying than the guy who comes to a home game for the first time and tries to tell the regulars how to run their game.
2) Ask questions. When the rules and procedures are not firmly established or written down, you need to ask questions. Nothing is worse than getting into a new game and looking like an idiot because you didn’t clear things up by asking a few questions. What is the buy-in procedure? What’s the average buy-in? Do we assign seats or just sit anywhere? Do they have any "house rules" or rules that may differ from a casino or your regular home game? Where’s the bathroom? Where can I put my six pack? Can we smoke in here? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it could save you some grief later.
3) Play your game! Don’t go all soft because you’re playing in a new home game. Don’t change who you are just because your head’s up with the host and you’re afraid he might not invite you back if you check raise. Don’t not bet where you usually would bet and let someone suck out on the river because you‘re being a nice guy. You are there to play poker. They are there to play poker. Play poker! But be smart enough not to gloat if your winning big or whine like a little baby if losing until you get to know the other players and their poker personalities a bit. Once you get to know these new people anything goes. But no one likes the new guy who jumps up and shouts every time he wins a hand or the fish that just got busted and is crying about her rent being due.
4) Don’t be afraid to leave. Do you feel safe? Is this a game that’s going to get out of hand? Is everyone looking at you as if they just won the lottery and you’re their ticket? Do they have some rules that you can’t live with? Is there someone at the game you just can’t get along with? Are there guns? If you feel uncomfortable don’t sit there for hours and stress yourself out. Get the hell out of there! Cash out (if you even get that far), excuse yourself and go. Plain and simple. Don’t put yourself at risk personally or financially just to play a few hands of cards.
Adhere to these simple rules and maybe you can turn that invitation to a new game into a weekly game with friends.