Poker tournaments can be a lot of fun for a lot of different reasons. What's nice about them is that they are a much more accessible way for people who don't play much poker to experience the game without a huge investment. If you are reading this article than that means you have thought about putting on a tournament of your own. Maybe as a home game or as a charity event. Either way, you probably want to put on something people will enjoy. So here are some basics on making sure you at least get the most important parts down.
Step #1: Decide The Purpose
What is the goal of the tournament? Is it meant to be something serious for money? Or is it just to be for fun with friends and family? Is it to raise money for charity? Whatever the reason is, it doesn't matter as long as you know what it is and can tailor accordingly. If this tournament is meant to be something serious, then you'll want to put a lot of effort into making sure it is well balanced. If it is on the other hand more about fun or a good cause, you'll have more leeway on the structure and people should understand if it's not perfect.
Step #2: Begin With The End In Mind
How long do you want this tournament to go? Do you want it to last one day? A few hours? Two days? When you begin with the end in mind, it makes it much easier to decide what kind of structure you will want to go with. If you want to wrap up your tournament in say 4 hours, you will need to make sure the blinds are going up at a good enough pace relative to the amount of people you expect to come. Always remember that the more people there are, the more chips in play. The more chips in play, the longer the tournament goes. So if you have an idea of how many people are coming, use that to project what you need to do for blinds to make the tournament end when you want it to.
Step #3: Get Familiar With The Rules (or bring someone who knows them well)
While you don't need to be a TDA certified expert to run your own tournament, you will save yourself a lot of headache if you review the rules of poker before you run your tournament. The TDA rules are accessible online. Get familiar with at least the rules for the most common scenarios that you think will happen. Or make sure someone can come to your tournament that has a really good knowledge of the rules. The last thing you want to have happen is people arguing over what the correct ruling is and then talking bad about your event. Whether it's you or someone else, decide who is going to make final decisions and stick with it. Even if you think you might not be 100% correct.
Step #4: Invite Trustworthy And Pleasant People
If your tournament is open to the public you might not be able to control this 100%. That said if you do have control over who is going to come, try to make sure to invite people that you know will generate a pleasant experience for all. You also will want to make sure they are trustworthy. When running a private tournament you more than likely will be doing things like dealing for yourselves or other things that aren't handled by an independent 3rd party. That means everyone has to trust that the community that is there is policing themselves to some degree.
Step #5: Invest A Little Bit In Good Equipment
If you are planning to host tournaments often, then it might be smart to invest in some equipment to make your life easier. Nice cards and chips are a start as you want items that can last multiple uses. Maybe a small tablet computer that can be used specifically as the clock and showing the blind levels. Poker players notice when a host goes the extra mile, and if you do that for your players they will for sure want to come back again to your place the next time you are hosting a tournament.
Step #6: Have Fun And Learn As You Go
The most important thing of course is to enjoy yourself. It's ok if it's not perfect the first few times. As long as you take in feedback from your guests and players you will get better as you go. After a couple of them under your belt, you'll start to realize that there really isn't much to running a tournament. It's all trial and error and you will find a nice equilibrium that your guests like and you can live with as a host.
What If I Just Want To Play And Not Host?
Well if you are in the Cincinnati area you can come try out our club anytime we're open. We have tournaments going on, and if you are planning on hosting a tournament you can pick our brains for advice. Or even host it at our club. We're in the West Chester area at 4844 Union Center Pavilion Drive. You can also email us or reach out on Facebook with any questions you have for us.