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How to Set Up a No Limit Hold’em Tournament Home Game.

Brought to you by www.HoldemShirts.Net

 

Topics:
Pgs 1-2:  The Basics (Hand Rankings and Basic Play)
Pgs 3-4:  The Setup (Blinds, Chips, Seating, Payouts and Rules)
Pgs 5   :  Extras (Rebuys, Add-ons and Chip Racing)


 

Hand Rankings:

Royal Flush
A royal flush is a straight flush that has a high card value of Ace (Ex: 10, J, Q, K, A). This is the highest hand in poker.

Straight Flush
A five-card sequence of the same suit (Ex: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

Four of a Kind
All four cards of the same rank (Ex: Q, Q, Q, Q). Four cards of the same value. AKA: Quads

Full House
Three of a kind combined with a pair (Ex: 3, 3, 3, K, K). Ties in a full house are broken by the three of a kind. If both hands share the same three of a kind, ties are broken by the higher pair.

Flush
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence. If two people both have a flush in the same suit, the person with the highest card is the winner.

Straight
Five cards in sequence, comprised of mixed suits. Note: there is no wrap around (it doesn't work if you have K, A, 2, 3, 4). The straight that has the highest card is the winner. AKA: Run or Sequence

Three of a Kind
Three cards with the same value are considered three of a kind (Ex: 8, 8, 8). The three of a kind of the highest value is the winner. AKA: Trips, Triplets, or Trio

Two Pair
Two sets of equal value cards (Ex: 7, 7, Q, Q). The pair with the higher value is used to determine the winner of a tie.

One Pair
Two cards of equal rank (Ex: J, J).

High Card
If the hand has no other combination (see above), its worth is determined by the highest value card. If two players have the same high card, the tie is broken by the second highest card.

Basic Play of No Limit Texas Hold'em:

No Limit Texas Hold'em is played with a typical 52 card deck.   Regular poker hand rankings apply.  During any betting round, any player can go "all in" (bet all the chips they have).

Hole Cards: The game begins with all the players receiving 2 cards face-down. Each player can only see his or her own cards.

Betting Round 1.

The Flop: The dealer lays 3 community cards face up on the center of the table. These are cards that the players can use with their own hand.

Betting Round 2.

The Turn: The dealer deals a fourth community card on the table.

Betting Round 3.

The River: The dealer puts one final community card on the table.

Betting Round 4.

The Showdown: The players show their hands, and the best hand (which is any 5-card combination of the player's cards and community cards) wins.

Dealer Button:
The dealer button is a white disc-shaped object that moves clockwise around the table each hand, designating one player as sitting in the dealer position. 

Blinds:
Blinds, like antes, are used to force action.  The player to the left of the button has to post a "small blind," (a required bet that is smaller than the “big blind”). The player to the left of the small blind has to post a "big blind" (a required bet which determines the lowest possible bet for future betting rounds.)

Note: For more on the basic play of No Limit Texas Hold’em, we recommend Celebrity Poker’s link:  How to Play No Limit Hold'em.

Blinds and Starting Chips: 

Blinds Schedule

Starting Chips = $1000 or $1500

Round Length = 20 or 30 minutes

20min = 2.5-3.5 hours

30min = 3.5-5.5 hours

Round

Ante

Small Blind

Big Blind

1

 

10

15

2

 

10

25

3

 

25

50

4

 

50

100

5

 

75

150

6

 

100

200

7

 

150

300

8

 

200

400

9

 

300

600

10

 

400

800

11

 

500

1000

12

 

600

1200

13

 

700

1400

14

 

800

1600

15

 

900

1800

16

 

1000

2000

17

 

1200

2400

Notes on Blinds:
This is a standard blind structure for a tournament consisting of 5-50 players.  Each player should begin with $1000 in tournament chips (ex. $50 buy-in equals $1000 in tournament chips).  If you would like the tournament to last longer, the starting number of chips can be increased to $1500.  If you would like to speed up a tournament, antes can be added during the later rounds.

Notes on Round Length:
The standard length of each round can be varied depending on the desired length of the tournament.  As a rule of thumb, the tournament will usually end within one blind of the level of when the big blind equals the starting number of chips for each player.  Another rule of thumb is that when the small + the big blind = 7-8% of the total number of chips in play, the tournament will end.

 

Chips for $1000 Tournament

Color:

Value:

Starting Amounts:

White:

$5

10 = $50

Red:   

$25

10 = $250

Green:

$100

7 =   $700

Blue:  

$500

As the tournament progresses, lower value chips should be raced off and higher value chips added (ex. $5 chips are taken out of play after round 2 and $500 chips should be inserted at or near round 8 when the $25 chips become unnecessary.)

 

Seating:
Each table should seat a maximum of 10 players (9 is preferred and 11 is possible if you must).  The easiest method is to use decks of cards with one card for each seat at each table.  For instance, if you have four tables of nine, use a deck consisting of the A-9 of diamonds (Table 1), the A-9 of hearts (Table 2), the A-9 of clubs (Table 3), and the A-9 of spades (Table 4).  The ace is designated as the button, the 2 is seated as the small blind, the 3 is seated as the big blind, and so on around the table.

Note:  As players are busted out, the tables may become uneven by more than one person.  Multiple tables should remain balanced within one person.  When tables are uneven wait until the end of the hand in progress at the larger table and then move the person in the upcoming BB to the short-handed table. 

Payout Structures:

Standard Payout for 30-40 Person Tournament

1st

35.0%

2nd

25.0%

3rd

12.5%

4th

10.0%

5th

  7.5%

6th

  5.0%

7th

  5.0%

 

Standard Payout for 8-10 Person Tournament

1st

50%

2nd

35%

3rd

15%

Note:  Payouts can easily be modified to reward more or less players.  It is also sometimes a nice idea to include a little something for the first person to bust out (maybe one of our “pinche rio” shirts?)

 

Basic Rules:
1. Cards and chips must be visible on the table at all times. Large chips out front.
2. Players have the right to request your chip count at any time.
3. If the dealer accidentally flips over a card, that card will become the first burn card.  The player cannot keep it.  If the dealer flips two cards while dealing, a misdeal is declared.
4. No string-bets. Announce that you are betting or raising before you do so. Any other action is considered a call.
5. The cards speak for themselves. Highest cards win.
6. No one ever gets to miss their big blind and no one ever has to pay the small blind twice in a row.  If the small blind busts out, then the blinds post their money as usual and the button remains where it is. If the big blind busts out, the next big blind posts his money as usual and there is a dead small blind. 
7. The Minimum bet/raise is equal to the BB. Any re-raise must be equal or greater than the previous raise.

8. When it gets down to heads up, the small blind is the button.

Basic Etiquette:
1.  Don’t splash the pot.  People should be able to see the number of chips bet or called.
2.  Commentary on board cards or possibilities is generally annoying. 
3.  Don’t discuss your hand until after the hand has been completed.  If someone is trying to represent that they are holding 7/6, it becomes much more difficult to do so when you announce that you folded it.
4.  Don’t rabbit-hunt excessively (looking at what fourth or fifth street would have been.)
5.  Once eliminated, it is nice if that player becomes the dealer until another player has been eliminated.


 

Extras:

Add-Ons and Rebuys:
A rebuy allows someone to buy back into a tournament after he or she has been eliminated.  There is often a restriction on the number of rebuys a player may use (1 or 2) and a restriction on the rebuy time period (usually the first hour of play).  Add-ons are often used in casino play.  It allows a player to make a single rebuy at the end of the rebuy period.  Since the player has not yet been eliminated, it is not a rebuy and is referred to as an add-on.

Coloring Up/ Chip Racing:
“Coloring up” is the process whereby smaller chips are taken out of circulation because the blinds have reached a point which renders them useless.  Coloring up makes it easier to count bets and speeds up the game.  However, coloring up can be a confusing process the first couple of times you try it, and for this reason, home tournaments often do not color up at all.

Rules of Coloring Up:  When it is time to color-up, they should be raced off with a maximum of one higher-denomination chip going to any single player.  A player cannot be raced out of a tournament.  

Example:  $100 chips are being taken out of circulation.  Each player exchanges his remaining $100 chips for as many $500 chips as possible.  Lets say that at a nine person table, three players hold multiples of $100 chips that cannot be exchanged for a $500 chip.  Player A has two $100 chips; Player B has four $100 chips; Player C has one $100 chip.

The dealer gives two cards face-up to Player A (one for each remaining $100 chip). Four cards to Player B, and one card to Player C.  The dealer collects all $100 chips, which total $700.  This number is rounded up to $1000, making for two $500 chips that will be raced off.

The dealer gives one $500 chip to the player with the highest card (this player cannot win any more chips). The dealer gives the second $500 chip to a different player with the next highest card.  If it should occur that Player C loses the chip race and is left with $0 in total tournament chips, he will be given an extra $500 chip.

Final Thoughts:
The best way to learn how to properly run a No Limit Hold’em tournament is to play in one at a casino.  There is no substitute for this.  However, if that isn’t a possibility, the next best thing is playing in an online NLH tournament (doesn’t matter if it’s real or play money).  We recommend Full Tilt Poker for this.

Also, if you really start to get serious about hosting your own games, or if you ever need official tournament rules, we recommend this excellent website: Home Poker Tourney.

For less experienced poker players, starting off playing free poker online is probably the best start. It can help you learn the different types of poker game and you can practice before playing for cash!

 


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