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Advanced preparation and planning is vital for a successful home poker tournament. Here is the HomePokerEdge.com guide and checklist of the things you need to do and when to do them.

3-4 Weeks Before


Formulate your tournament plan:
Decide on how large a tournament you wish to have.
Assess how much room (tables & chairs) and equipment (chips, cards and timer) you have to determine if you can accomodate a tournament of that size..
Match your tournament to the resources you have: Get more equipment if you need it or scale back on your tournament.
Decide how long you want the tournament to last.
Set a date and start time for the tournament (make sure you allocate sufficient time to play tournament).
Give careful consideration to the cost of the tournament. Keep buy-in and re-buys affordable to the pool of players you are drawing from.
Draft your rules, blind structure and schedule, and starting chip amounts. See our Tournament Blinds Structures for guidance, samples and other advice.
Send out invitations to potential players, sharing as much information on the tournament as practical.

1 Week Before


Confirm with your players the date and time of the tournament and their intention of attending.
Print rule sheet, blind structure and schedule, buy-in, starting chips, re-buy(s).
Send a copy to each player.

1 or 2 Days Before


Send out a final reminder to all players. Encourage them to arrive on time.
Count decks to make sure they are complete. Have extra decks, just in case.
Prepare more copies of rules and blinds structures.
Check that timer is working. If timer is battery powered, have extra batteries.
Get extra money in small bills to make change.

1 to 2 Hours Before


Set out tables and chairs.
Divide out the starting number of chips for each player. Place each set in a plastic bag
Make sure each table has cards, dealer button, rules and timer.

Immediately Before Start


Collect all buy-ins. Count money and record amount. Keep money in a secure place.
Distribute chips to each player. Store remaining chips in a secure place.
Tournament Director announces rules, blind structure and schedule and break schedule.
If applicable, announce when re-buy period is over.
Make seat assignments.
Start playing.

At First Break


First break should coincide with end of re-buy/add-on period.
Count money, calculate payoffs and announce. (If there are no re-buys/add-ons, do this before the start of the tournament.)

Some Additional Things to Consider


Do not forget to build in time for periodic breaks, for example, one 5-10 minute break every hour. Use break times to color up and remove small denomination chips when they are no longer needed.

Before organizing any tournament, but especially for a lengthly (5-6 hour) tournament give serious consideration to things like these:
Accounting for breaks, your tournament is going to last an hour or more beyond the actual playing time.
People are going to get thirsty and hungry. Do you want to provide drinks and food for them? Do you want to clean up after them?
If you get eliminated early in the tournament, do you really want to wait for several hours for it to finish and your guests to leave?

Before You Play


This should go without saying, but, before hosting or participating in any poker tournament or game, it is each individual's responsibility to understand and accept the risks involved and to make certain it is legal to do so.

Some Non-Poker Things to Do


Hosting a home poker tournament is like hosting most other events or gatherings. Do not forget to consider, plan for and accomplish these other tasks:

Clean or at least tidy up the place.
Clean the bathroom. Make sure there are clean hand towels (consider buying paper "guest towels"). Put a full roll of toilet paper on the roller and have additional rolls in plain sight. Tell your guests where the bathroom is located.
Take out the trash. Have at least 1 empty trash receptacle in the tournament area.
Have paper towels, napkins and tissues handy.
Make room in the refrigerator for your guests to store any beverages or food they bring.
Designate a spot for coats, etc.
Provide parking instructions to players in advance. Let them know where it is permissible to park and where parking is prohibited in your neighborhood.
Make it obvious on what entrance to your house you want your guests to use. (Put on exterior lighting, etc.)
Inform your guests if there are rooms or areas of your home they should not enter.