I keep a pretty lively event schedule associated with my garage bar; it's a mix of get togethers both large and small centered around most anything I can latch onto - be it a holiday or a day that ends in "y." One of the mainstays however is a monthly Texas Holdem poker game which, like many things, started from humble beginnings with a rag-tag poker table and a piece of paper taped to a cabinet that had poker chip values shown. You could almost make out what the paper said too if you squinted just right and held your head at an angle. As I've stepped up my game, let me share with you the essentials to create your garage bar poker room that you'll need to host your own poker game or even a full tournament.
Garage Poker Room Essentials | Starter Set
At the very least, there's some essentials that are must-haves for any poker room set up, and the first of which is free and is the backbone of every game that I've held in my garage speakeasy - a blind timer. The one I use I downloaded from Apple iTunes and is called "Texas Holdem Poker Timer" and it seamlessly controls all aspects of the game, keeping the action moving and ensuring a smooth experience for everyone. You control every aspect of the action through the initial setup interface, factoring in number of players, blind structure, breaks, the whole nine. I transmit the screen on my iPad through my projector and show it on a big screen - its easy to see where the play is, blinds and what's ahead - I've graduated a couple levels since my piece of paper tacked to a cabinet days. Other items that are must haves for a bare bones setup:
Bicycle Cards are a simple choice, open a new deck to ensure no bends or folds
I still use Folding Chairs as they are easy to set up and take down, you'll need 8!
Poker Chips - spring for a heavy duty set
Leveling Up | Beyond the Poker Basics
So you do have the opportunity to really step it up in a number of ways; here's a few easy ones that really make a difference in the overall experience:
Professional Poker Cards - these from KEM are top of the line and used in the World Series of Poker
Premium Poker Table that seats 10 (foldable for storage)
Rake and Box for the full casino experience (table add-on)
Advanced Play | Home Bar Poker All Star
With these couple of pricey additions, you'll know you're playing in a league all your own.
One of the nicest table's IMHO is from IDS Home here
The very best in chips are Nevada Jacks 10g Ceramic chips
Mind Your Guests | Host the Ultimate Experience in Your Garage Poker Room
Beyond the essentials, I always plan some food (sausage/cheese/crackers, build your own nachos, whatever) and because this is happening in my garage bar, there's never any shortage of beer and brown water! If you've got the right crowd for it, perhaps you could build bourbon tastings into the breaks. Download our Bourboneur Tasting Sheet from The Shop to help take your next poker night up a notch!