Its a minefield out there with everyone saying that you have to have this and this to play poker at home. But what do you need? And what quality? Hopefully this guide will give you all you need to know and how much to pay.
Obviously there are a lot of things to look at, but the main ones to be aware of are, Cards, Chips, Tables, Shoes, Shufflers and Card Guards.
The big thing with cards is the durability and long term use of the cards. Cheap cards start out well but within a very short time they develop marks, tagged edges or even distinct folds in the card. Why dont you want to have a fold in a card? Lets face it, if the fold is in an Ace of Hearts do you want your opponents to know you have it?
The best bet is to get a deck of 100% Plastic playing cards such as Copag or Kem, but you will be paying around AUD$30 for two decks which is a little pricey. However the advantage is that the Copag and Keb, can be washed and are unlikely to mark or fold from general play. Another thing to remember is that the sound of these cards and the way they glide across the table is superb.
Coated playing cards. Generally Bee and Bicycle are Cheaper. Remember though that the Bee brand is also used for the World Poker Tournament cards (WPT). You will be replacing these much more often though.
Cheap $1 per Pack
Decent $5 - 10 per pack
Top Quality $15 + per pack (most in this category come in a dual deck)
One of the more expensive parts of playing poker at home will be your poker chips. With different compositions and quality in makes, you can be severely burnt by going cheap here. Generally you want to be getting at least 10 gram chips. Keep in mind most casinos world wide only use 10g Ceramic or clay composite chips.
Dont fall prey to the standard 11.5gram Clay Composite trick. There are many sellers out there saying their chips are clay composites when they are in fact ABS Plastic or Moulded Plastics. There are a lot of websites where you can read up on this.
But how many Should you get?
Well if your playing at home with a couple of friends probably 200-300 is more than ample. But if your playing with 6-10 people you probably want 500-650 chips.
Should I get chips with a Dollar value or blank?
This will depend on what style of poker your playing. If your playing no-limit holdem like in the tournaments, then it is handy to have the values on the chips, but if you are likely to play differnt types of poker with different limits, then getting a set with dollar values may end up being costly as you will need a couple of sets. Why? Most dollar sets give you $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100. or you get $25, $100, $500, $1000, $5000. So if your playing a friendly game and each hand is a 10c a bet, neither of these will be good enough. But if you are playing Tournament style, the $1 chips may not be enough. Sometimes it is better to get chips without the values on them and just making a chart with the different amounts linking to a coloured chip. This will generally mean a cheaper set of chips also. Virtually all sets come in Cases. REMEMBER Poker chips can be EXPENSIVE to ship, so look for a local seller wherever possible, who will give cheaper freight or pick up.
Un Numbered Numbered
100 Chips $20 N/A
200 Chips $25 N/A
300 Chips $30 $35 (except for specialty sets can go much higher)
500 Chips $50 $70
1000 Chips $70 $90
If your after Good Quality chips (ie Ceramic, be prepared to pay double or more of those prices)
There are no hard and fast rules as to whether you need a poker table. They can be more fun to play at, but remember they are an expensive option. What to look for if you are buying a poker table.
SIZE. If you are looking to play with more than 4 or 5 people, dont get a small table, get something with a bit of size. The smaller tables make it hard for 8 players to store chips, drinks and make sure there is enough room to play. If you are looking at 5+ people the bigger table will allow you to have players evenly spaced over the length of the table with plenty of elbow room.
Should I get a table with a wooden area as well as playing felt? A wooden area is great, because most spillages from drinks and food happen on the outer edges of the table. This makes it easier to clean up and less likely to stain. However your price for the table is likely to be much higher.
Should I get a table with cup holders? YES, invariably you have people drinking at a table, and they put down their can/bottle/glass and it has cold drinks in it and condensation will drip to the bottom of it leaving a stain. Or as is always the case, someone gets a great hand and then knocks over their drink and it goes flying. But make sure the cup holders are DEEP pockets and not just a 1-2cm impression. If your not getting cup holders on your table, make sure you get some small side tables to scatter around for people to put drinks on.
Freight on this item can more than double the price of the item. Look for a local dealer
Round Tabletop $50-$80
Round Table $150-195 (with legs)
Oval Tabletop $100-$150
Oval Table $195-300 (with legs)
A great item for a serious enthusiast, but if you have a small table, it takes up way too much real estate. There is no hard and fast rule on the type to buy, you can get clear or opaque acrylic, wooden and even Leather. Personal preference will be your guide. Shipping should only be $15 max. Be aware also, that dealer shoes though looking fantastic can considerably slow your game down.
Automatic Card Shufflers
If you're like me and not the best when it comes to shuffling then these are the best investment you could possibly make. There are a lot of shufflers out there, but the final decision you need to keep in mind is are you prepared to pay for an item that might not work. So make sure you get a decent brand.
For anyone who likes to make an impression at the table. A card guard can make you look more serious to a lot of players and they are a fantastic way to individualise your play at the table. Its great for that little bit of intimidation. "Hey he has a card guard, he must play a lot, I should be extra careful". Go in on a big pot and people take serious notice of it. The original idea of the card guard was to stop cards flipping over with gusts of wind from open windows or electric fans. This is a personal choice item. I myself use a card guard and take it to every tournament I attend. And the reaction from most people is the same. This guy is serious. The biggest issue with card guards is being overcharged on postage. $2 maximum postage should be all you need to pay for these items.
Card Guard $5 - $15 depending on the rarity.
Remember when you are buying your items, check postage.
Often many make more money sending you the item than the cost of the item itself. Also, quality... If the price makes it look cheap then it probably is. Stick with good brand names. If you are going to lose your money, lose it at the table and not on the items.
May all your flops be big ones... See you at the table.