Cover your home game expenses the easy way.

Anyone who has ever hosted a home game understands the issue. Paying for everything. Taking the time and making the effort to pull the game together week after week. To a man, everyone in your game undervalues your efforts. In their view; it’s BYOB so your only expenses are a bag of ice, a fresh deck of cards, and a little electricity which amounts to next to nothing. As for the “better than casino quality” equipment and killer entertainment system you’ve invested thousands in, your friend’s figure it’s your hobby. According to this breakdown it sounds like your weekly expenses to host the game are about $10.

For over 20 years now I have hosted poker games at my home. Hosting a poker game is really a lot of work. Anyone who has not hosted a regular poker game in their home cannot truly appreciate the effort required to pull off a smooth game each week. Ironically, a smooth game means your efforts are invisible, no one has to think about how the ice got there, or where the new decks of cards come from.

It’s inevitable that every week someone shows up at the game that forgot their drink mixers, or didn’t get to the liqueur store in time, or forgot their Diet Coke, blunt wrap, or whatever. You end up being the backup supplier for these things. Some of them are nickel dime, some aren’t. They add up in a hurry.

Rake the game to cover your game expenses. Sounds illegal, but it doesn’t have to be. In many areas it is illegal to run a game for profit. And since a rake is associated with all for profit games, many assume that all raked games are illegal. Now I’m not a lawyer so don’t take this as legal advice but it seems to me that if you rake just enough to cover game expenses you would be within the law.

Make your game “all inclusive”. It doesn’t cost that much. For most games if you rake $100, you will be able to run a VIP style poker game that includes an open bar, food, and all the other little things that make playing at your place appealing. In most games with a rotating deal if you rake 10%, one dollar max per hand, you are going to end up with about $100 in the kitty at the end of the night. Or you can cap the amount raked so that once that amount is reached you stop the rake for the rest of the night.

Raking the game makes dealing with all your game expenses easy. One common objection that will come up is from the players that don’t drink. “Why should I pay for an open bar when I don’t drink?” Answer: Cheap bastard syndrome; players that would not drink much if they feel like their paying for it will drink like fish when it is included for “free”. The sober player benefits from the money loosening effects of this “free” booze and as such should have no problem chipping in for it.

Most players will quickly realize the benefits of running the game this way. Your game becomes easier to play in when all a player has to do is show up at the game with cash in hand.

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  • Avatar of
    [email protected]
    September 18, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Hey There,Nice article. From your stats it seems that one could make a liinvg refering just a handful of players a month. Pretty amazing. I guess it also shows offline marketing could be effective.I’m a little confused at GGR. This is the gross gaming revenue, so shouldn’t you just get a slice of that (ie 20%). It seems your earnings= GGR- bonus. Where you making almost 5K a month or 20% of that.All the Best. Sebastien

  • Avatar of
    [email protected]
    October 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you for your comment and perspective. Its hard to believe that this posting on this subject has only gotten one comment!

  • Avatar of
    [email protected]
    October 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I run a home game, and I can concur with the effort involved. Although BYOB is the norm, I always supply 3 types of beer, mixers, and a pretty full bar. We also provide food. Typically pizza, spaghetti, or burgers – low cost, but expensive when feeding 12-20 players. Add to that the cost for 3 tables (home built, but over $100 in supplies), and a whole mess of folding chairs, and the cost skyrockets. Custom chips, poker timer software, Copag cards… you get the point.

    I never take a rake.

    When you invite friends over to your house for dinner, you don’t charge them, do you? A poker night is just that, friends inviting friends over. You pay for everything, they pay for gas to get there.

    If a friend of a friend shows, or a friend of that friends friend, now you’re spending good money on someone you don’t know. What do you do then?

    1); Tipping is not a city in China. I may be the only one who does this, but when I win (finish 1st in a tourney, or $ positive in a cash game)at a house where I don’t personally know the owner, I throw $10-$20 their way when I leave. It gets me invited back, and I cover a fraction of the nightly expenses.

    2); I hold out $10 each night for a year-end bonus. To be eligible to win the bonus, you must attend 67% of the events. Usually 8-10 players (of about 30); will be eligible, counting myself and my wife. The eligible player with the best finish at the last game of the year wins the pot.
    Since my wife and I attend 100% of the games in my house, we are always going to be eligible. Mathematically, that nets us 20-25% of the bonus, or $24-$30 at year’s end. want a bigger slice? Make it 90% of the games to be eligible.

    Treat your friends like friends. Let the casinos treat them like customers.

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