Poker has been considered a “man’s game” for decades, but that shouldn’t stop women from enjoying the game just as much as their male counterparts. In fact, we’re seeing more prominent women in the pro poker ranks of late, and one study even showed that 81% of women who have actually played before have enjoyed it! There’s simply no reason to consider the game a domain for men.
This is even more the case when we’re talking about poker at home. While it’s understandable that some women would still rather avoid the male-dominated poker rooms at actual casinos, hosting a poker night with your girlfriends makes for an excellent night in. You can catch up, enjoy some food and drinks, and enjoy a bit of playful competition in the process. If this sounds like a good idea to you, we have a few fun tips for how to make the evening memorable.
Make Some Cocktails
Ladies’ night in is a great time for a few nice cocktails regardless of what else you’re doing. And around the poker table, it can help everyone loosen up a bit! Your instinct may be to turn to some of the numerous poker and casino-themed drinks out there, and to be fair, some of them are sort of fun (you might even replicate the “Vesper” from Casino Royale). But really, you should focus on drinks that everyone will enjoy before drinks that fit a given theme. For the summer season ahead, we like both of the girls’ night in cocktails that The Spruce Eats promoted last year –– “Pretty in Pink” (made with vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice with a rosemary garnish), and “Blueberry Pomegranate Slushies” (a frozen blend with blueberry, pomegranate, lemon, and gin). But those are just a few examples. The best approach is to poll your group and figure out what people like and then track down a recipe accordingly. Consider making “mocktail” versions as well, for those who may not want to drink for one reason or another.
Have Some Food Ready
Whether or not you set up accompanying cocktails, it’s always a good idea to provide some food to your guests. Because it’s not usually convenient to have a whole dinner plate in front of you while playing poker though, the best move is often to set up a bunch of snacking options for company to enjoy (or ask everyone to bring something small and easy to eat!). For some inspiration, we’ll turn to some great finger food suggestions that The Pioneer Woman posted last December –– most notably pizza rolls, deviled eggs, cranberry brie bites, and classic pigs-in-a-blanket. You can opt for plenty of other finger foods as well, but these are easy ones to consume that won’t get people’s fingers too dirty or greasy (though napkins should still be handy), and which are thus easy to enjoy during a few rounds of poker.
Invest in a Poker Set
A poker chip set can make for an excellent item to pick up for your own home poker nights. Playing with chips isn’t strictly necessary, but if you’ve played with them before, you know they add a certain level of professionalism to the game. Plus, let’s be honest: We all feel kind of cool fiddling with them by the side of the table. Similarly, having great cards (newer, thicker, and shinier, usually) will enhance the experience of the game. And while some of this might sound like a splurge, it all comes quite cheap. A nice set of chips and cards can be had for under $100, and new cards alone –– from the likes of good brands Bicycle or Theory 11 –– can cost as little as $10.
Buy a Poker Table
There are a lot of options when it comes to buying a real poker table, or some version of one. At the very high end of things, you can invest thousands in a permanent piece of furniture with a custom-made felt topping, special features (like drink holders), and matching chairs. If you’re not looking to spend a great deal on your table though, there are also options such as foldable tables, fold-up table toppers, and even mats that can roll out over a table to provide a more satisfying playing surface. You may want to keep a simple wooden interior design in your room and thus not even bother with a topper. The most important thing though is to have that surface, as it makes the game look more real and helps cards and chips slide more smoothly. Beyond that though, your choice will depend on your own preferences and the amount of space you have.
Set Up a Poker Atmosphere
This last suggestion is one to have fun with, and it can mean any number of things. Perhaps you want to set up some soft jazz or bossa nova music in the background to establish a retro casino feel; maybe you want to put up some poker décor (posters of classic films for instance, or poker paintings you find online), or maybe you want to control the atmosphere through some dimming lights, or an affordable chandelier hanging directly over the table. Whatever the case, give some thought to the kind of poker night you want to host and think of some options like these that can help you establish the accompanying atmosphere. The game will be better for it.
Girls’ night doesn’t have to be a night out at a cocktail bar or an evening dedicated to venting, as stereotypes would have us believe. A poker night gives you a great way to let loose with the girls, enjoy a specific activity together, and simply hang out with friends. And with the tips above, you can set up a great one –– and possibly even a new regular tradition.