Hosting Large Poker Tournaments
Most of the house poker games have at most about 25 players. However, if you plan to host a large poker tournament of hundreds of players, use the following information to run a smoother and more organized tournament.
Important basic notes:
- Don’t be the tournament director and play. In a smaller house game it is fine to run the tournament and play at the same time. But a large tournament requires much more attention.
- Prepare for the tournament (cards, chips, food, etc.) from a day before. Don’t leave everything for the last house.
You will need many decks of cards – at least two decks for each table -. A good rule of thumb is to buy 3 decks for each table on average. This is because cards at some tables will get bent and you will need to change the marked deck.
Paper cards such as Bee or Bicycle are fine for these tournament as they won’t cost you too much either. You can find them at Walmart or Target. Plastic cards such as Kem would be very nice, but would cost too much. A set of 2 Kem plastic cards costs about $20.
Every table needs a dealer button. I personally have not seen dealer buttons in Walmart, but you can buy them in bulk cheaply from eBay.
Poker Chips: If you already have lots of poker chips, divide them up according to the number of players at the tournament. 1000, 2000, 5000, or 10000 chips are typical for the original amount of chip every player receives.
If everyone starts with a 1000 chips, you can distribute the chips in 8 $25 chips and 8 $100 chips to each player. Add $500 and $1000 chips if you decide to give more chips to every player.
Chip Color-Up : In the middle and toward the end of the poker tournament you will need to color-up the chips. This means to take the smaller denomination chips out and give larger chips as blinds go up. If you gave $10,000 chips to everyone in the beginning, make sure to have enough $1000 and $5000 chips to color-up everybody later in the tournament.
You will need every more chips if you are going to allow Rebuys and Add-ons . Most players will rebuy and/or add-on during the game.
For the blind structure refer to the Blind Structure page for basic info.
You need to have antes in larger tournaments after certain blinds. This helps create more actions and speed up the tournament.
I stronlyly suggest using the Tournament Director as it reduces your task dramatically.
Following is a good blind structure with antes for a large tournament:
|Large Poker Tournament|
|Small Blind||Big Blind||Ante|
|Chip Color-up (take $25 chips out)|
|Chip Color-up (take $100 chips out)|
|Above structure is good for $2000 starting chips. You can give 8 $25 chips, 8 $100 chips, and 2 $500 chips to every player.|
Obviously in large poker tournaments, more players get paid than a smaller one. It is good to give prizes (payouts) to the top 30%.
The winner should be paid close to 40% of the pot. The runner up (second position) should get about half of the first and third should get about half of third. The rest of the prize can be distributed among others more evenly.
Seating & Moving Players
I have explained in detail how to seat and move players in a small home poker tournament. Same principle applies to the large tournaments. Read more on this subject in the Seating/Moving players page.
Protection From Cheating
The most common cheating in large tournaments is players brining their own similar chips to the game. This can be prevented by using custom chips. However they cost more. You can also try to buy custom printed sticky papers to put on your chips. A simple black mark would work too.
Other Important Notes:
- Keep the extra poker chips somewhere safe. Do not leave them beside a table or the wall.
- You are going to collect thousands of dollars for the tournament buy-in. Put the money somewhere safe, preferably outside the tournament room.
- The winner at the end of the night will be walking out with a lot of cash in his pocket. Try to follow him to his car and congratulate him on his winnings.
- Try to get dedicated dealer for each table and put a small position of the prize pool aside to tip them at the end of the night.