How to Plan a Texas Hold'em Tournament

Looking to add a little on-site gaming to your meeting? Not only is Texas Hold'em the most popular variation of poker played - it's also a very social game, perfect for a corporate gathering. But there are a few tips every planner should keep in mind when looking to host a successful Texas Hold'em tournament.

1. Set the Goal
Why are you hosting the Texas Hold'em tournament? Is it to encourage lighthearted entertainment, to teambuild, or to spur competition? "If you just want to host it as a social event, it's the new golf. It's popular with all ages," says Tijuana Plant, leadership services coordinator for Caesars Entertainment. "It's the new networking environment." Or perhaps you're using the game to recruit new employees, like Caesars did in January with its MBA Poker Championships and Recruitment Weekend at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. "It's an event that's really true to our brand," says Paul King, corporate director of talent and recruiting for Caesars. "People playing poker - they're very smart, very analytical, they're quick with their decision making, they are essentially using their interpersonal skills at the poker table. So a lot of the same skills that translate into good business skills we see at the poker table." Knowing what the goal of the game is will help you create the appropriate environment and attract the right players.

2. Set the Rules
"Create a very 'set' set of rules," says King. "Our rules are official: We publish them and post them beforehand." You can decide what kinds of betting you want - for real money, or just for fun. Texas Hold'em involves seven cards for each player: five public and two private. For a quick rundown on all the essentials of the game, visit the World Series of Poker website at bit.ly/smHoldEm.

3. Pick the Right Venue
King says it's important to consider whether you want to have an "open" tournament or host it in a private venue. For example, if you hold the tournament on a casino floor, it's likely that the game will be open to public players. Many casinos have private rooms you can book, however. And "if you're not going to have it at a casino, make sure you research the company who is going to be hosting your tournament," Plant says. "You don't want a company that's going to charge you an exorbitant amount." Either way, make sure that you …

4. Hire Professional Dealers
They know the game best and will ensure that all state rules are followed, say the experts.

5. Lead With Confidence
"Your tournament leader has to be charismatic," Plant says. "He has to be fun. Having someone who is entertaining, who calls rounds out and tells them when to change chips, is imperative. It makes the time go fast, people have a good time, and they're your arm for the tournament. As an event planner, you can worry about all the other details. Your tournament leader can focus on making sure the game goes smoothly."