Home Game Rules

The vast majority of poker game rules are universal, but there are a few things that need to be decided on and made clear for a home game. A clearly defined set of rules and guidelines will contribute greatly to an enjoyable home game. Most arguments that happen during a poker game are simply down to some confusion about what is, or isn’t allowed. This can easily be avoided by making sure all players know exactly what the rules are.

Different Poker Games

There are a number of versions of poker – Texas Hold’em is far and away the most well-known game and the most common in home games but some may prefer Omaha or 7 Card Stud for example. For new or relatively inexperienced, sticking to Texas Hold’em is the best way to go. If your home game is going to be a regular affair, then you can always rotate the games each time you play.

Tournament or Cash

There are essentially two ways to play poker at a home game – cash games or tournament poker. For cash games, it must be decided whether to play whether to play Limit or No Limit poker, and what the relevant stakes are. Setting clear buy in rules removes the potential for disagreements. Tournament poker requires a few more decisions, which we address below.

Tournament Structure

As with a cash game, you have the choice of playing Limit or No Limit poker. No Limit poker is much, much more common for tournaments and is generally considered the best format. Two important factors are the blind structure and payout structure. We have dedicated sections on those aspects, so please take the time to read them.


You must also determine the amount of the buy-in, and whether the tournament is a freezeout (once you lose your chips, you are out of the tournament) or a rebuy (players can rebuy chips if they bust out). The amount of chips each player starts with – and if it is a rebuy tournament how many chips they get when they rebuy – can greatly affect the length of the game, so this is a key decision.

Additional Rules

There are a few other “house rules” that it will help to be clear on. If you are playing cash, it is a good idea to decide what time the game will play on until. By setting an agreed finishing time, there can be complaints if a player has cleaned up and chooses to go home at that point. If you are playing a tournament, but it hasn’t reached a conclusion by the time everyone wants to go home, there should be an agreement about what happens in this scenario.


Rules for dealing should be set – for example does the dealer pass to the left for the deck to be cut, or does he shuffle and deal. What constitutes a misdeal and what happens under those circumstances should also be pre-agreed.


It is advised to have someone appointed as “Tournament Director”. If a situation arises that has not been accounted for in the house rules, the Tournament Director has to make a ruling. If it is agreed in advance that any decision by that individual is final, then no-one can dispute his, or her, ruling. It is normal for the host of the tournament to be appointed in this role, but anyone can do it.


If you follow all of the above advice and make sure all the participants in your home game fully understand the rules you have set, then will certainly be able to run a successful and enjoyable home poker game 

Poker Clock Tournament Strategy