Family game for poker noobs

Davism72

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Hey, everyone. I want to get my new chips in play, and since the world has become a Lovecraftian hellscape, I thought it best to play only with close family who we have shared a bubble with. This includes my parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law. I wanted to include the women so there was more chance of actually getting a game together. (Why don't more women get invited to play? I felt so stupid saying "girls are welcome.")

Here's the catch. This could be really fun for us all to do together, and might be the start of a longer-running thing. Or it could go horribly and turn a bunch of people off the game forever. How do I nudge things toward the fun side?

I don't think playing for free is a good idea. Totally changes the game. We could play reduced stakes, though. Other ideas?
 

tabletalker7

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I came up with drunken poker to teach my friends holdem years and years ago. Everyone starts with $100 in chips. Standard 1/2 NL table. When someone goes bust the bank can easily give them another $100. They just have to do a double of the nastiest thing I found at the liquor store that day (when I say nasty, I mean 8.95 with a $10 mail in rebate nasty). It turned competitive poker into "laugh at your buddy" fun.
 

Gobbs

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I'd go with tournaments instead of cash games. Then, you could set the stakes to anything, including nothing. To add an element of fun, have a house trophy or something that the last winner can brag about and lord over the rest of the family or something.
 

Darthhoodie

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I love tournament poker, but the issue is that if you get the family together for a long night of poker and grandma gets felted in 20 minutes she then has to sit there for the entire night watching you play. I would set a low stakes 5c/10c cash game with a $10 buy in, if that's too much you can even go 1c/2c and use your cash chips$1 ->1c. This way you can set the buy in low for $1 to $5 and play all night. I was strictly a tournament player for most of my poker life but it just didn't translate to the family game, people wanted to play all night and didn't like getting busted out and just sitting around watching you play.
 

Saoliver

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I'd go with tournaments instead of cash games. Then, you could set the stakes to anything, including nothing. To add an element of fun, have a house trophy or something that the last winner can brag about and lord over the rest of the family or something.
Yup. Maybe some quick tourneys with prizes.
 

Psypher1000

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As someone who learned the game from his uncle when I was four years old, I can say my experience playing with family was extremely positive.

I don't think playing for free is a good idea.

Depends. When you're dealing with very young kids, it's perfectly fine to play 5 card draw/stud and just flip cards and teach them the hand rankings. If you're dealing with teens and up, though, I do agree that something needs to be on the line - even if it's literal pennies.

We could play reduced stakes, though. Other ideas?
There's a number of ways to go. If you want high variance, "bullshit/shoot-the-shit" poker, then do a dealer's choice game with crazy wild cards included. Play for pennies or nickles. If you want to keep it civil, create a house rule that there's no check-raising allowed.

If you want to go a little more serious, you could do a 10c/20c limit game with nickles (or even just a fixed range of 1-5c per bet with a 2c ante; three raises max per street). This is still a generally safe, lower-risk entry point and allows for plenty of teachable moments if you want to do hand reviews afterwards if they're actually into learning the fundamentals of poker.

If you want to go more tournament play, I recommend either a T500 with a $5 buyin, or a T2000 starting stack with a $20 buyin - and winner takes all. The reason for this is, while it's still a tournament format, every chip in those instances is worth exactly one penny - so it's tournament style, but it's still a cash game of sorts. This can help them transition from a cash format to a tournament format & vice versa.
 

One Eyed Dollar

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I tried to run a turbo tourney with my son (12) and my parents to introduce them to Hold 'Em and tournament style games. Before that we always played 5-card Draw with wild cards, plastic Vegas chips, and no money. Everyone just limped like crazy in that game and slowly passed the chips around. Almost no one busted out. To me it was really boring and just dragged on forever.

However, nobody liked the tourney much, and we didn't even finish it. I think the pressure of the blinds going up was too much, and everybody was stressed out and didn't want to bust out (even though we had no money involved). I was trying to play nice, but it didn't help that I wound up with the big stack and they were all suspicious of me, like I wanted to play Hold 'Em just so I could beat them all.

I think that part of the reason the tourney didn't work is that none of them really liked competitive poker. 5-card Draw was just something to do to pass the time. It wasn't about winning all the chips. So maybe keep in mind your family's personalities and what they like in a game. Is it more social, or do they want to win?
 

tigasulo

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It depends on the crowd. Used to play tournament style, $2 buy in and people were playing ultra competitive. And for the ones that bust out early, they can do a micro cash game on the side.
 

Davism72

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Lots of great suggestions here! Thanks everyone.

A few clarifying points:
1. No children playing. All adults, mid-twenties to mid-sixties.
2. I'd planned on running a 30-minute crash course before starting the real game. This would be for my brothers' wives who haven't played before.
3. Was planning on playing NLHE.
4. I think cash is probably best, so people can come and go. I'm guessing at least one couple will have a child blow up and need to leave early.

Regarding teaching, do you all think that's welcome? I'd love to help, but I also don't want to be doing it mid-stream and making players feel bad.
 

Psypher1000

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Regarding teaching, do you all think that's welcome? I'd love to help, but I also don't want to be doing it mid-stream and making players feel bad.
You'll need to read the table on that one. I can see it going either way. It's going to depend on the personalities present & their collective moods and patience levels. You can always set the expectation that "teaching will occur as warranted", but sometimes those gettin' taught aren't keen on being corrected in front of folks.
 

Mangatang

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3. Was planning on playing NLHE.
4. I think cash is probably best, so people can come and go.

Point 4. Exactly!
Point 3. Don’t underestimate a good Limit game. If you want a fun, friendly, yet still competitive environment, Limit is the way to go. Don’t forget, Limit Hold’em ruled the poker world for decades, before the glamorization of TV poker. Teach the poker noobs Limit Hold’em. You can’t go broke on one mistake. You can still win if you play smart. Lot’s of chips. If they get on board and come back for more, you can start adding fun variations (Crazy Pineapple, Omaha, ect.)

I have a regular game with poker novices. $.50-$1.00 Limit Hold’em. They buy in for $25, get a rack of $.25 chips and have a blast all night. Limited risk, all fun.
 

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  1. Cash game for sure. People can quit if they're bored or play all night if they're having fun. Penny ante or nickles if they're new to the game.
  2. Limit will keep things simple. New players probably won't be that aggressive anyway and lot of people can stay in and experience lots of hands. You're not teaching strategy but basic play and etiquette.
  3. No fold'em hold'em is great for that. Stick to one game so people can get comfortable and can follow along more easily.
  4. Give everyone a 'dummy card' with the rank of hands so they can tell if they have a good hand or not.
  5. Have fun!
 

Darthhoodie

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So I can't believe no one has asked yet but what chips will you be using?

If you don't have a dedicated micro set for a 1c/2c game use $1/$5/$25 -> 1c/5c/25c or if you do a 5c/10c game $5/$25/$100 -> 5c/25c/$1

Also, don't underestimate limit poker. We played limit hold'em for years before I convinced the family to play a sort of hybrid limit no limit game.

What I mean by hybrid is that it was technically no limit but if at any time you tried to bet more than say 50c you were verbally and sometimes physically abused.
 
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Davism72

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Okay, confession: I don’t know how to play limit poker. My shame is infinite.

The chips I want to use are these. I have one rack of nickels and one of quarters. I sort of thought we’d play 25/25. We could play a nickel game, but I’m afraid we don’t have enough quarters.
 

Saoliver

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Okay, confession: I don’t know how to play limit poker. My shame is infinite.

The chips I want to use are these. I have one rack of nickels and one of quarters. I sort of thought we’d play 25/25. We could play a nickel game, but I’m afraid we don’t have enough quarters.
To play limit, you would want a lot of chips that are the same, whether a value or non-denom.

It’s ideal (but not required) to make the small blind 1 chip and the big blind 2 chips. Preflop and flop bets would be 2 chips. Turn and river bets would be 4 chips. Often there is a cap of 3 raises per betting round. For example:

If you are playing 2/4 limit, the small blind is 1 and the big blind is 2. Betting preflop and on the flop is 2, with a cap (3 raises) of 8 per street. The turn and river bets would be 4, with a cap (3 raises) of 16 on each street. In this scenario, if every street had 3 raises (capped), each player at showdown would have put in 48 (8 preflop, 8 on the flop, 16 on the turn and 16 on the river). This scenario will almost never happen, but that is the max that a player can lose per hand.
 
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jja412

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Love the High desert Cardroom CSQ design you have going!

Limit is a great way to keep it relatively friendly for family functions.
You'd want a lot of the same denom chip (or non-denom) to spread a limit game. Then usually something 20-25x for a high value chip. (E.G. - 800 5c, 100 - $1)

Non-denom chips can work extremely well for limit, especially if you plan on playing different stakes with different groups.
 

ArielVer18

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Does your family member think NLHE-only when they think of poker? If so, introducing other poker games or format might cause more confusion.

I suggest lower the buy-in. $10 buy in. Blinds 10¢/25¢ to get all your chips in play. As long as you don’t play short stack GTO, everyone should be limping in and having fun.
 

CrazyEddie

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NLHE is an exquisite game, but I'm skeptical at how much appeal it will have to people who aren't in some way committed to learning and playing poker. Even at its simplest, it's a complicated game.

You'll have to judge your audience. Are they actually interested in poker? Or are they simply willing to come over and spend time with you playing games?

If the former, start with playing limit hold'em so that they can learn the mechanics of hold'em without worrying about losing all their chips. Limit is fun! You can play no-foldem-holdem and have a party atmosphere; sometimes you lose a little, sometimes you get lucky and win a big pot against the odds, and everybody loves that! When they're comfortable and having fun with playing hold'em, introduce them to no-limit using a 50/50 sit-and-go tournament schedule. Make it sit-and-go so that it's over quickly, and 50/50 so that nobody has to sit out for very long waiting for the rest of the table to finish. The purpose is to teach them that it's okay to lose all their chips, and that it's fun to put all your chips on the line in a single hand.

If they're not really into poker and you're not sure they're ever going to be, consider playing kitchen-table dealer's choice. Teach them draw and stud, play fixed limit, and include some oddball variations including [gasp] wild cards. This is stuff that's easy to grasp and fun for anyone who isn't trying to play Serious Poker. They'll really enjoy it, and over time if they keep enjoying it you can lead them into more serious games with deeper strategies and more meaningful stakes.

Either way, give them tons of small-denomination chips so that everyone has huge stacks. Everyone loves having big piles of chips in front of them and raking big piles of chips from the pot when they win, even if the total value is diddly-squat.
 

Davism72

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To play limit, you would want a lot of chips that are the same, whether a value or non-denom.

It’s ideal (but not required) to make the small blind 1 chip and the big blind 2 chips. Preflop and flop bets would be 2 chips. Turn and river bets would be 4 chips. Often there is a cap of 3 raises per betting round. For example:

If you are playing 2/4 limit, the small blind is 1 and the big blind is 2. Betting preflop and on the flop is 2, with a cap (3 raises) of 8 per street. The turn and river bets would be 4, with a cap (3 raises) of 16 on each street. In this scenario, if every street had 3 raises (capped), each player at showdown would have put in 48 (8 preflop, 8 on the flop, 16 on the turn and 16 on the river). This scenario will almost never happen, but that is the max that a player can lose per hand.
This is huge. Thanks for the rundown!


Beautiful chips! How many players do you expect to have at one time?
I think we’ll have 8 players.
 

Darthhoodie

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@Davism72 So your set looks like this if I am correct
100x5c
100x25c
200x$1
300x$5
100x$20

Since you have 8 players, it doesn't seem to me like you have enough of any 1 denomination to play a traditional limit game.
I also think that .25/.25 nlhe may be kinda steep for total noobs as well, especially when you were considering playing for free.
At .25/.25 someone could easily lose $25 to $75 in one night, not sure if your OK with that or not.
This is a bit unusual but you can consider playing 1c/2c with your $1/$5/$20 chips. Make $1 -> 1c and so on.
Buy in for $2 each, 20x1c($1 chips) / 36x5c($5 chips), this will look like a $1/$2 game and you get a good amount of chips in play.
With 100 bb it will be relatively deep, people will have fun and even if you bust out a bunch of times your not losing more than 10 bucks.
If this catches on and people start to like poker, you can eventual raise the game to .25/.25 or whatever. Good luck!
 
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Frogzilla

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Instead of using micro chips, I use regular denominations but just every $1 gets you $10 in chips. So it still feels like regular poker instead of a constant reminder it’s low stakes, but it’s a lot friendlier. $1/$2 with $200 buyins for $20 actual dollars. Runs well
 

Darthhoodie

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Makes sense I have a 5c /10c faimly game that has been running for well over 20+ years. The actual poker game has been going for well over 30 years, but when I came of age I changed it to 5c/10c nlhe and got them to use chips instead of actual change. We started with my paulson classic tourney chips as nickels and quarters, then I eventually had a semi custom set made from cc malonos, now we have been using my sun fly mountain top hybrid ceramics. I will also use a number of other paulson sets when I feel like. They have no issue if I take out a set of paulsons and say that $5 is now 5c. They don't know it yet but I'm in the process of putting together a custom THC set that will cover 5c to $100.
 

Darthhoodie

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Instead of using micro chips, I use regular denominations but just every $1 gets you $10 in chips. So it still feels like regular poker instead of a constant reminder it’s low stakes, but it’s a lot friendlier. $1/$2 with $200 buyins for $20 actual dollars. Runs well

I did exact this with a group and it worked out well. It played like a $1/$2 game. It was a great way to learn without losing $400 in a friendly game where people were more interested in the booze, food, and ball busting than the poker

It can get a bit crazy, my life long friend group only plays tournaments we have a long standing league. My family only plays micro cash 5c/10c nlhe. The work people play .25/.25 nlhe. The more serious home games are $1/$2, and the Italian social club, well I would prefer not to say just in case my wife reads this. Poker is a crazy game that fits a wide range of people and entertainment value. Good luck!

The funny thing is I supply the chips for all the games except the social club, they use dice chips. They don't have any issues with people cheating for obvious reasons. One time I mentioned using better chips and it didn't go over well.
 
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