Host a Texas Hold'em Poker Party

For a fun night in with a few friends, host a casual poker party. We've got tips for playing the game, themed decor ideas, and more for this inexpensive get-together.

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    Poker Party Basics

    Throwing a poker party is one of the easiest—and cheapest—ways to entertain six to eight of your friends. Get your poker face in place and steal some of our tips for your own in-house poker tournament.

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    Mini Card Vases

    Add to the party theme by embellishing your party decor with poker-related items. Here, we used store-bought shot glasses with card designs as vases for red carnation stems and display them along the buffet table.

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    How to Play Poker

    Before sitting down at the big round table, make sure you know the basics of playing poker.

    • Each person is dealt two cards, facedown, called "pocket cards" or "the hole."
    • A round of betting takes place. People can check (not place a bet), call (bet the same amount as the person before them), raise the bet, or fold (quit).
    • Three community cards (the Flop) are placed on the table, faceup.
    • Another round of betting takes place.
    • A fouth community card is dealt.
    • Another round of betting takes place (at this point, if their cards are bad, players might start to fold)
    • The fifth—and last—community card is dealt.
    • Another round of betting takes place.
    • Players who are still left in the game show their hands; the winner is the player with the best five-card hand (using a combo of two hole cards and the five community cards).
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    Poker Chip Container

    Make a poker-theme container to hold whatever you need—chips, cards, or snacks—with a few extra poker chips and a bit of hot glue. Separate your chips by color and glue them onto a plastic cup, starting at the bottom row and continuing until you've reached the top.

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    Party-Ready Cocktails

    Serve simple cocktails in glasses that are perfect for the occasion. To make the cocktail shown (called a Mr. Bob Cocktail), fill the bottom quarter of a large pitcher with fresh or frozen fruit. Top with one-part gin and three-parts lemonade; add ice and serve.

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    How to Read Your Hand

    Think you've got a good hand? Here's a guide to the cards, from best to worst. (Pictured: High Card)

    1. Royal Flush: Same suit, ace through 10
    2. Straight Flush: Any other five cards in a row of the same suit (Example: 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of spades)
    3. Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same number
    4. Full House: A combination of a three of a kind and a pair (Example: two queens and three 7s)
    5. Flush: Any combination of five cards of the same suit
    6. Straight: Five consecutive cards (suit doesn't matter)
    7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same number
    8. Two Pairs: Two sets of two cards of the same number
    9. Pair: One set of two cards of the same number
    10. High Card: Highest card wins
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    Poker Chip Tablecloth

    If you don't have a poker table, don't worry. Fashion this nifty poker table runner from green felt and extra poker chips to cover your playing surface. Cut the felt with pinking shears and punch holes in the felt 1 inch apart. Use a drill to make holes in extra poker chips, and hang them from the felt with paper clips.

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    Easy Poker Light Fixture

    Dress up a drum light fixture to hang above your poker table with a set of unused cards. Wrap the lampshade with red ribbon, using glue to secure the ends on the lampshade's seam. Punch holes in the tops of cards (you'll need about a deck, depending on the size of your lamp) and use paper clips to hang them from the ribbon.

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    Simple Party Snacks

    Go the extra mile for your party and include poker-theme snacks for your guests. Mini 100 Grand candy bars and chocolate gold coins make easy treats—just be sure to keep them within reach!

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    Must-Know Poker Lingo

    Sound like a poker pro by using these common terms during your game:

    The Flop: The first three community cards, dealt faceup

    The Turn: The fourth community card

    The River: The fifth (and final) community card

    Burn and Turn: Before laying down the flop, turn, and river, the dealer discards—or "burns"—one card to prevent cheating

    Fold: Surrender cards and bets

    Call: Match the highest bet

    Raise: Increase a bet to an amount above another player's bet

    Check: Make no bet

    All in: Bet all chips at once

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    How to Throw a Casual Mexican Taco Party Like a Chef

    Whether you're celebrating Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, or just a low-key Friday night with friends, a build-your-own-taco buffet and a few colorful decorations make for a fun Mexican-theme party. "Top Chef" judge and frequent party host Hugh Acheson shows you how.
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