A home game is basically a game of poker held in a house or building, organized by a “normal” person, who invites family/friends/colleagues to play a game of cards. Often, these casual games take place in a living room or another area of someone’s home, although increasingly, home games are held in bars or clubs and sometimes office buildings.
The reason to hold a home game is mostly to interact with other people that have an interest in the game of poker. Often, money is only secondary as limits and stakes are generally very small (lower than $50). Sometimes the host withholds a small percentage for hosting the game, but this is not a common occurrence. Another form is the “cash” game where players will get chips with a total value equal to the cash given to the “bank” (buy-ins from all players), and at the end of the night the chips get exchanged for cash.
At a home game it is common for the guests to bring their own beers/alcohol/soda and often it is advised to bring some chips or other snacks as well. Most home games get combined with a social gathering, like a family reunion or a group of friends that get ready to watch the Superbowl.
Most people have great home games that end with a bit of banter about who won and who lost, but some home games end in a complete disaster. This is often due to one of two major home-game pitfalls: booze and bankroll.
First, alcohol can be a big problem if not well regulated. A lot of people do not know how to limit their intake, and can come aggressive, belligerent, especially if something happens like they forgot how much they bet or they run out of money too soon. The may make snide comments about other players and friendships can be ruined in this way.
Secondly, bankroll issues can come up at friendly home games when everyone knows everyone else, as opposed to strangers at a casino or in an online room. If it is not the lack of money, it might be the abundance of money. In the first case it is the “good” friend from next door who unfortunately after 15 minutes loses all his money and asks the host for a short-term loan. Often, that comes with a, “You will get it back at the end of the night” or “I will drop it off tomorrow.” This can lead to an awkward 5-month wait for the money full of strange looks and resentment...
The other “problem” with money is if there is too much of it won by someone. Some “friends” might be upset and call him a “F****** luckbox” while others ask for 50% back of what they lost as he won “sooooo much.” Either way, the answer will never be good enough and this can estrange even the best of friends.
Home games can be a lot of fun, and hosting a successful one just depends on a positive attitude, ability to maintain some boundaries, and readiness for any challenges that arise. Be wary of invitees that might be a problem once they start consuming alcohol, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave if they’re ruining the good time. Also, make sure you have strict rules on loans and other forms of financial help, as anything over $20 can easily become a point of tension between two formerly friendly players.
Just make sure that if you host a home game or if you are invited to one, you have some fun and don´t treat everyone like best friends. You need to make/earn your money from someone.