Before we get started let's talk for a minute about why you might want to hold your own home tournament. I had been playing for months online and gained a good comfort level with the process. But I was a little put off about joining into a tournament in person. I was not sure how well I'd handle the chips, follow the blinds, and so on. So holding a home tournament with my friends, some of what were poker neophytes, was a "safe" way for me to learn how to play live.
There are obviously lots of other reasons as well - you can hold a tournament anytime you want, you decide who will be invited, how long it will last, how big the pots are, and many other reasons.
First we'll discuss what you'll need in the way of equipment. You can put on a tournament with an investment of less than $ 50, or spend thousands on poker tables, chairs, chips and so forth. If you want to start small all you really need one or more tables, chairs, chips and a couple decks of cards.
My first tournament was with 6 people sitting around my breakfast table, a couple of chairs borrowed from the dining room, a $ 15 set of plastic chips from Target and a new deck of cards. And we had a blast.
I've since bought an additional table, more card chairs and spent about $ 400 on a nice set of tournament chips with case. Funny thing is that once I learned how to really set up a tournament I found that I only use three chip denominations, not the six that I purchased. Could've saved a few bucks there. But the point is that you can be extravagant or not, and the game will be just as fun regardless. So start small if you want, and grow when you're ready.
There is also a personal preference around how many chips you want to put in play. In the very first social holdem tournament I played in a few friends, the guy putting on the show handed out ten red chips and 5 white chips. That was it. I was disappointed, to say the least. So when I ran my own first home tournament I knew that I wanted more chips in play than that.
And it seemed that most of my fellow participants did too. Over time I've settled on the following chip setup: 30 x $ 5, 10 x $ 25 and 1 x $ 100. This seemed to be a good mix of denominations, plus is enough chips for folks to feel like they have a bit of a stack in front of them. Again, your call. Experiment and find out what you like.
We'll talk more about using a blinds schedule in the next article, but one piece of equipment that I find helpful is a timer. I bought a $ 10 kitchen timer that goes up to 60 minutes. You can get away with a 30 minute limit, but for some tournament lengths you may wish you had a 60 minute timer.
Well, I hope this helps you see that it does not take much of an investment to put on your own tournament. So do not let that get in your way. Next up we'll discuss another issue that holds back many would-be Tournament Directors from putting on their own show - how to set up and manage a blinds schedule.