Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 18 months or so, it will be impossible to have avoided poker’s rather swift rise.

Since the start of the pandemic, the global poker market has seen a rapid shift. As casinos were forced to close, many players found their way to online providers, particularly in states where provision existed for such games. That’s not just in Nevada either, but New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to name but two.

Even outside of those states, poker has been in the news. The film Molly’s Game, based on the real-life story of a skier turned high stakes hostess, was a major hit. Las Vegas’s World Series of Poker found its way onto your television screens this fall, and Korey Aldemir made headlines by taking home the $8m main event prize. Phew, what a year!

That will almost certainly result in a surge of players picking up the cards, especially as winter draws in and people seek things to do in the warm, light rooms of their homes. What could be better than a poker night with your buddies? Many people already enjoy poker in the US, but if you’re not one of them, you may wonder how to get started.

Wonder no more!

Deck of Cards

Obviously, you’ll need a deck of cards to get started. A standard, 52-card deck is sufficient, and it might be nice to grab a new pack as well. If the other friends you invite to your house notice an old, worn pack, you could be accused of card marking, i.e. having subtle nicks out of certain cards so you can tell what’s coming next.


You could play online poker, but if you’re hoping for a social event, then you’re going to need friends. Three more people, in addition to yourself, is a good number. Make sure they all come armed with a few dollars to make it interesting, but not so much that there’s an ill-feeling. In the World Series of Poker, the game is all about money. In your basement, it should be about fun.


By all means, have chips and dips on hand, but we’re talking about poker chips, those little round things you see people playing with in casinos. These are used to wager with; every player starts with the same number, and the premise is to take all of the chips around the table for yourself. You can buy poker sets online for just a few dollars, and that’ll get you started.

The Rules

Poker isn’t a complex game, but you need to understand the hand rankings charts. There are good resources online, and if you’re all still novices, you could even print that out and leave it by the other players for reference. There are many different poker variants too; this means how the cards are dealt differs from game to game. The most popular one is Texas Hold’em. Everyone is dealt two cards in this game, and a bet is placed ‘blind’, named because you can’t see the community cards. After that, three cards are drawn face up in the middle (the flop) with another betting round. A fourth card is added, another round of betting commences before a fifth and final card. Finally, the last betting round is conducted before the cards are shown, and you start again.


Poker is a complex game, and the professionals calculate the odds of winning hands and play for big money. Online, they have multiple tables going at once, trying to maximize their earning potential. For your game, you just need the items above and a willingness to have fun, making poker hugely enjoyable for you and your friends. Indeed, taking all your friends chips might even, rather tongue-in-cheek, be described as one of ‘The Most Memorable Events in a Young Man’s Life’.