As people seek out ways to have fun on the cheap, in-house game nights are on the rise. With poker gaining popularity through movies and its own televised World Series, a casino night is the natural progression. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Vegas dealer to have a successful casino game night. With a little bit of preparation and creativity, a casino game night can win big.
Choose the games with your audience in mind. If it’s a group that has a weekly poker night already, choose something a little more challenging that they’ll enjoy. If there are going to be families, go with easier rules for kids to follow along. For your first casino night, stick with card games. Texas Hold ‘Em and Blackjack are very popular and easy to learn—although you can find other games online or in gambling books for more variety.
Learn the rules. In Texas Hold ‘Em, players try to make the best five-card poker hand from their two cards and the five face-up cards in the middle of the table. You can find complete rules on several websites, and there are even Texas Hold ‘Em card sets that come with rules. Blackjack pits players against the dealer to see who can get closest to 21 with their cards without going over. Depending on the size and competitiveness of your party, you can shuffle multiple decks together to prevent card counting. An automatic card shuffler may be necessary.
Estimate how many guests are coming and have enough games that everyone can play. Both Blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em accommodate several people playing at once, so set up a few tables of each game. It’s up to you how authentic you want to be with your tables. Bare tables are fine, or you can craft your own casino-style table coverings with green felt.
Decide how to handle the chips and money. You can either play without money, have a set buy-in at the beginning of the party or allow people to pay as they go. If you play without money, decide on values for each chip color. If there is a buy-in at the beginning, let guests know so they’re prepared. If it’s a pay as they go, have change ready for your “big spenders.”
Have fun with the Casino Party theme. Have a specialty cocktail (with a kid-friendly version if it's a family night), do custom invitations, make a Rat Pack playlist, and encourage your guests to get into the spirit by leading by example. If you're playing like a high roller, chances are the enthusiasm will spread.
If you do play for money, emotions may run high. Be prepared to diffuse any arguments or cheating accusations with alternate activities or some calm words. Remind people that it's all in good fun and offer some appetizers "on the house" to divert attention.