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Subject: Please help me figure out a casual Texas Holdem event rss

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Ken H.
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I'm hosting a casual Texas Holdem party this weekend for some friends, and I'm looking for suggestions on how many chips to start with, and how big to make the blinds, etc.

The parameters of the event are these:

--I am expecting a total of 10-12 people (including me). So, I guess we'll be playing 2 tables. It's possible we could have as few as 8, so I need to be flexible.

--None of us have signicant experience with Holdem, although about half the group plays casual "nickel-dime" poker on a fairly regular basis. The other half of the group is largely clueless about poker, and will need to have the difference between a straight and a flush explained to them, for example.

--It will be a tournament format, meaning everyone starts on equal footing in terms of chip count. There are no optional extra buy-ins or anything.

--I want the event to last around 3 to 4 hours, or less. Ideally, we will play LIMIT Holdem for approximately the first 2 hours so that players can't get eliminated on the first hand, etc. After that, we will split up into a High Table and a Low Table, and switch over to NO LIMIT Holdem at both tables. The Low Table will probably reset to the starting amount of chips (in case someone was eliminated), while the High Table will use the actual number of chips that each player has when the switch occurs.


Anyway, I've never done this before, so I have no idea how many chips is appropriate. I guess my specific questions are:

1. How many chips should each player start with?
2. What should the bet size be during the LIMIT portion, and how quickly (if at all) should the bet size increase? Obviously this is relative to the starting amount.
3. During the both the LIMIT and the NO LIMIT portion, what should the blinds be, and how quickly should they escalate?


I know there's no right answer other than "whatever you want it to be". I'm just looking for suggestions from folks who have done this sort of thing before.

Thanks in advance!
 
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David K
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I've played a ton of house games, and some casino hold 'em as well. Here are my suggestions:

* If you play with blinds, you might think about doubling them every hour. Or, every half-hour. It really depends on how long you want the tournament to last.

* I really enjoy pot-limit tournaments. You may want to consider that as your format. It's not as brutal as no-limit.

* With 10 to 12, I'd start out with two tables and merge them when it gets down to, say, 7 or 8 left -- but this is all personal preference. If you only have 8, you might consider starting everyone at the same table (that's what I'd probably do).

* For chip count... again, that really depends. When we play house tournaments, we usually have everyone buy-in for a fixed amount. This buys them, say, 40 chips (denominations don't matter). We then play pot-limit. If you lose your chips, you're out of the tournament. We merge tables when it gets down to 6 - 8 folks. Winner of the tournament is the last person with chips. They take the lion-share of the winnings, but we also pay the 2nd and 3rd place positions (like a 60/30/10 split).

I'm sure just about everyone who responds will suggest different ways of approaching it -- and, in the end, there's really no right/wrong way to go about it, as long as everyone is having fun.

-V
 
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Chuck Shick
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If you have 10-12 people, you are going to need a lot of chips. 100/per would be ideal. 40-50 absolute minimum. As the tournament goes on and the limits increase change the denomination of the chips ONCE and have everyone get rid of a bunch so the stacks don't become unmanageable. eg once the blinds reach 5 and 10, change the denomination from 1 to 10 and split the remainder any way you see fit.

NOONE will want to play limit. Trust me. Instead of playing limit, you might consider capped pots at the beginning. Say everyone starts out with 60 chips, and the blinds 1 and 2. You might set up capped pots of 20 per player in the beginning so no one can go out right away. In other words, no can put in more than 20 into any one pot. You can't avoid people getting knocked out n a tournament, so make sure there is something else to do for the losers.

As far as blind increases go, don't double them every time in the beginning. 1-2, 2-4, 3-6, 5-10, 10-20, 20-40 something like that. Every 30 minutes is standard. When you get to 20-40, it will end fast.
 
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Hank Drew
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http://www.homepokertourney.com/

Check out the above link for some tips.

Also, you can find software that will manage ever little bit of your tourney including the number of chips you will need. A friend of mine uses one for his biweekly game. Pretty nice system.


http://www.thetournamentdirector.net/

Above is a link to the software he uses. Enjoy.

 
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David Fair
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Key points:
Rubric wrote:

10-12 people (including me)
tournament format, no extra buy-ins
3 to 4 hours, or less


With 10-12 people, I would recommend the following:

$X buys 1000 chips, blinds go as follows, changing every 20 minutes:

10/20 -- 15/30 -- 20/40 -- 25/50*
50/100 -- 75/150 -- 100/200 -- 150/300 -- 200/400*
300/600 -- 400/800 -- 500/1000 -- 600/1200 -- 800/1600

Chances are very slim you will have to go higher than that, but just follow the progression if you do.

If 20 minutes seems a bit fast, then make the blinds 30 minutes, but be warned, that will give you a 5-6 hour event. Alternately, run the first row of levels at 30 minutes, the next row at 20, and the rest at 15 minutes. You will still have a longer event, but it will not ramp up so fast that people are forced into early coin flips.

At the 2 asterisks above, you will want to color up to $25 chips and $100 chips, getting rid of the smaller checks.

Quote:
LIMIT Holdem for approximately the first 2 hours so that players can't get eliminated on the first hand, etc. After that, we will split up into a High Table and a Low Table, and switch over to NO LIMIT Holdem at both tables. The Low Table will probably reset to the starting amount of chips (in case someone was eliminated), while the High Table will use the actual number of chips that each player has when the switch occurs.

This is not a great idea. If you wish to limit pots, play pot limit instead of no limit. Not only is the above confusing, but it isn't what your novices will have seen on TV. Limit Hold'em is very different from PotLimit and NoLimit, and they won't have seen it or learned anything about how to play it. It will seperate them from their money *faster*, which is not what you want.

You should expect to need about 2000 chips total, of which should be different than the others if you want to accomodate a side game.
I would start the chip stacks at 25 nickels, 25 dimes, and 25 quarters. You will need 300 (minimum) of each color, as well as about 150 dollar chips.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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I'd definitely go with pot-limit instead of limit. (Though I think no-limit all the way would be best). Or pot limit all the way. If people bust out early, they were either stupid or very unlucky. Have a side event start up for them.
I'd go with 1 table unless you get over 10 people, in which case 2 tables, go to 1 when 10 left.

100 chips each, blinds:

1-2 / 2-4 / 3-6 / 5-10 / 8-16 / 10-20 (exchange all 1 chips for 5s, rounding up any parts, so someone with 51 chips gets 11 of the new ones). / 15-30 / 20-40 / 30-60 (should finish before this)

Alternately, remove the 8-16 level and 15-30 level to make it end faster.

Increase the level every 30 minutes.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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As an alternative, I suggest this:

Play no limit the entire time. During the first X amount of time (1 hour, 1.5hrs?), allow people to pay another entrance fee to get another 100 chips, if they bust out. This increases the prize, and allows everyone to keep playing longer.
 
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Brian A
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I agree with staying with no limit rather than going from limit to no limit.

You could do rebuys but will be fine without them.

I do want to point out that pot-limit requires an observant person or someone good at math or a group willing to count down the pot a lot. It is rather high maintenance for a newbie group.

I suggest a wide prize pool for newbies too. Like 40/30/20/10 as long as 10 is enough to get their stake back.



 
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Ken H.
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Wow, thanks for the great responses so far, everyone. I have to read through this stuff in more detail, but right now I think I will go with the consensus and just play NO LIMIT the whole time.

When we get down to 6 people, all the losers can start up a new table. I don't really want to ask people to make another buy-in, so maybe I will reserve a tiny fraction of the prize pool for the winner of the loser's table (equal to one person's initial buy-in, basically).

Plus, the whole event will be simpler and easier to teach if I don't have a sudden rule change.


Alexfrog wrote:
If people bust out early, they were either stupid or very unlucky.


Yeah, but that's the whole point. People are likely to be "stupid" because (a) there will be a few newbies there, and (b) even those of us who have played before are far from being experts. Plus, as you say, even a good player can go out in the first hand with bad luck. My goal was to keep people in the game despite their stupidity/inexperience/bad luck. Still, having a loser's table should satisfy that issue. It will suck for the first guy who gets knocked out of the winner's table, but I can live with that.

Anyway, keep the suggestions coming. I really appreciate all of them!
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Quote:

Yeah, but that's the whole point. People are likely to be "stupid" because (a) there will be a few newbies there, and (b) even those of us who have played before are far from being experts. Plus, as you say, even a good player can go out in the first hand with bad luck. My goal was to keep people in the game despite their stupidity/inexperience/bad luck. Still, having a loser's table should satisfy that issue. It will suck for the first guy who gets knocked out of the winner's table, but I can live with that.

Anyway, keep the suggestions coming. I really appreciate all of them!


Ok. Then I'd suggest doing rebuys if the busting out thing really bothers you, or else, have something else for those who have busted out to do. Like, when 2 are out, they can play some short 2p boardgame....

The rebuy isnt forced, its an option, if the player wishes to continue. So youre not making them do it, just giving the option.


Also,
I wouldnt suggest taking any money from the main game, and giving it to the winner of the 'loser' table. That seems silly. Also, it then really sucks if you bust out jsut late enough that you cant get into the loser table, but dont win on the other table. After all, you placed higher than those who gt to go to the loser table...
If those who bust out start a new game, and if it is for money, they should then pay new money for it. At which point I'd just suggest allowing rebuys.
 
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Gary Heidenreich
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We do no limit. With 10 folk, we have one table and for starters we get 35 chips (with a reasonable buy in of $5 or $10). Blinds are 1-2 and go up as someone is eliminated. What happens is a new money table will form after three are eliminated (which goes pretty quick). I figure a game takes a couple of hours. Then we start again.

When you have a low amount of chips and start the blinds small, you should have more than enough chips for everyone in a standard chip set.
 
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Ken H.
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I have a little more information now:

--We will have 10 players, not 12. These folks are pretty reliable, so I don't anticipate any no-shows.

--Only 4 of the players have any poker experience beyond a handful of social games. That means the newbies will out-number us 6 to 4. And, as I mentioned before, even the poker players haven't really played a lot of Texas Holdem.

--Because most of us have kids and baby sitters, etc., I really need to keep the game to 3 hours or less.

--I am much more interested in just playing NO LIMIT the whole time, instead of having a two-phase game with a LIMIT session. My wife is not so sure about it because we don't want people sitting out too long.

--Thanks to all the suggestions here, I have a good handle on the chip count and blinds. My impression is that the initial chip count is irrelevant. The important thing is that the blinds are in proportion to the initial stake. I think they should start at about 2% of that amount and gradually escalate toward something approaching 50-75% of the initial chip amount.

--I'm still torn on how to handle the loser's table. Several people have suggested an additional buy-in for the losers. Well, I appreciate all the suggestions, but I am pretty much dead set against this, for matters of personal taste. I do not want to invite people to my house, to try something new, and then make them pay extra if they don't do well. It's really out of the question.



bop517 wrote:
Blinds are 1-2 and go up as someone is eliminated.


Hmm, that's interesting. So far, everyone has suggested raising the blinds based on passage of time, but I actually like this method better. Can anyone suggest pros and cons? I assume the main "con" is that you have less control over the time frame. What if I use a hybrid method -- like, the blinds increase every time 2 people are eliminated OR a half hour passes, whichever comes first.


The only other issue is should I go with 1 or 2 tables to start. A couple people suggested going with 1 table if I only get 10 players. That's kind of where I'm leaning right now, if I can work out the physical space issues. If I go with 2 tables, I guess we would merge them when there are 7 players left. Then, I think I would start the loser's table as soon as 5 people are out.

Anyway, I welcome additional comments and suggestions. This is such a great resource -- BGG rules!
 
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Chuck Shick
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Raising the blinds when someone gets knocked out is less than ideal. For an extreme example, let say the same player knocks out 2 people in the first two hands. All of a sudden, everyone except the winner has, or is very close to having a short stack (10-12 times the big blind), and it becomes difficult to maneuver. It's all-in or nothing.
Having played with beginners many times, players getting knocked very early is common.
However, I think the most common way to eliminate early exits is to cap the losses in the early going. Everyone starts with 100 chips, you can't lose more than 30 or 40 on any particular hand. Leaves room for maneuvering, but also leaves the loser with enough chips to still compete. Pot limit is way too complicated for beginners, and limit tournaments are boring.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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IMHO, even the _option_ of rebuys is not a good idea with so many inexperienced players. Telling your new-player guests "Pony up more money or sit alone for a while" might be good if your goal is to keep your friends' money but not keep your friends. And when they realize they've lost several times more than the veterans even risked, simply because they were so unfamiliar with the game from the outset, they may be rather disgruntled.

I suppose it has to be made crystal-clear - is the goal here to come to a winner, or is the goal to keep everyone in the group playing? Limit may be boring for experienced players, but it keeps the newbies from losing a huge chunk of their stack on a rookie misread, and if they're so green that they need to be told the difference between a straight and a flush, then it's probably best that they see several showdowns before they bust (rather than the typical no-limit trend of most hands going completely without showdown).


A lot of the suggestions in this thread, to me, atre not very friendly to the new players. I don't know if people missed the part about new players, or if they're so driven to win that they'd actually recommend a format that will almost assurely rob the newbies of their money and their desire to play again.
 
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Ken H.
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chinless wrote:
However, I think the most common way to eliminate early exits is to cap the losses in the early going. Everyone starts with 100 chips, you can't lose more than 30 or 40 on any particular hand. Leaves room for maneuvering, but also leaves the loser with enough chips to still compete. Pot limit is way too complicated for beginners, and limit tournaments are boring.


Yes, I saw your earlier suggestion on this. I'm not sure I understand how this is different from just playing Limit. Are you saying cap the number of raises?

One thing I've been thinking of is to play one time around the table (10 hands basically) with a limit or "cap" or whatever you want to call it, and then switch to No Limit. That's basically the same as my original idea, although the Limit portion would be a lot shorter. I could probably go with a limit of maybe 5% of the initial stake. Then, if raises are capped at 3, the most you could lose on a bad hand would be 20% of the starting amount. People could still get eliminated, but it would be harder.


thatmarkguy wrote:
I suppose it has to be made crystal-clear - is the goal here to come to a winner, or is the goal to keep everyone in the group playing?


Well, I'm waffling on what the goal is. Ideally, both of those things.

We obviously have to have a winner, and I'm willing to accept that some people will have to be eliminated to get there. I'm trying to find the right balance.
 
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Brian A
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Perhaps you should play no-limit and explain to your guests before the event starts that you wanted to give them as much flavor of a real tourney as possible and one unfortunate effect of that is that your structuring will leave an overly loose player out in the cold very quickly. You considered rebuys to mitigate the length of time people would be out of the action, but determined that was simply too much money to ask people to put up in their first foray.

I agree that you should create a sense of professionalism. It is half the fun for newbies I have come to realize. I have had people tell me in home games 'please do everything just like they would in a casino' so I smirk and tell them... OK....

"Don't splash the pot sir", "That was a string raise ma'am", "Missing a card? your hand is dead", "Please protect your cards". And I burn cards, shuffle and box, move the button, call the action, just like a dealer would. And they're usually surprised that I don't announce every possible straight and flush on the board. They love it.

Have fun.
 
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