Maybe you host poker night regularly. Or maybe you love gathering for game night, and now you’re ready to up the ante. Either way, poker night is a surefire way to entertain just about any crowd. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition and a good game of cards to bring a group of people together. Great food and cocktails don’t hurt either—and a few modern design touches go a long way to set the stage for a poker night that feels super-exclusive. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

The Prep

Before you send out the invites, make sure you’ve got the details down. From the game you’ll be playing to the amount of buy-in will be, you’ll want to let your guests know what to expect from your get-together. If you’re not sure which game to choose, consider going with Texas Hold’em—a classic that at least a few of your attendees will have played before. If you haven’t played yourself, or if it’s been a while, check out the official rules here.

The Necessities

It may seem obvious, but checking the essentials off your list in advance of your guests’ arrival is a must. First, invest in a set of poker chips and at least one deck of playing cards. If you want to impress your cohorts, skip the flimsy old deck that lives in your junk drawer and invest in a new one. A fresh deck will ensure all cards are accounted for, and a professional set, like this poker set, will be less likely to sustain damage during the game.

The Real Necessities

Sure, cards and poker chips may be the most important ingredients in a successful poker night. But a good spread of refreshments will be what your pals really remember (even if they lose). In our experience, poker night fare is best served in a casual manner, with well-designed tableware and barware. Serving food and drinks cocktail hour-style will put your guests at ease, while high-quality wares will make even hot wings and bar nuts feel like a classy affair. 

The Snacks

When it comes to a lively gathering like poker night, it’s best to serve finger foods and small bites that are easy to grab without interrupting the game. As far as food choices go, anything from tapas to chips and dip is fair game. The key to perfect poker night bites is in the presentation. Our favorite way to serve? Keep snacks within arm’s reach for guests to munch on as they play. We love placing quick bites on an elegant platter, like the Santa Fe Tray, that looks great on any home bar or table. Handcrafted in stainless steel with natural stone accents, it brings an air of refinement to any table.

The Drinks

There’s something about entertaining poker night that feels especially sophisticated, and a sophisticated gathering always pairs well with quality spirits and classic cocktails. Our recommendations: a great bottle of your favorite high-quality whiskey (or tequila… or gin) and a spirit-forward cocktail that’s easy to mix, like a Negroni. Serve your cocktails on our favorite poker night-approved serving platter, and pair them with the Santa Fe Bottle Coaster. Boasting an organic feel and stunning stone accents, this stainless-steel bottle coaster makes the perfect vessel for your favorite spirit. Better yet, it functions to prevent unfortunate spills and protect even the finest of poker tables, so you can keep your bottle close by for a well-timed toast. Cheers!

Author Dani Cramer

Dani Cramer is a writer and editor based in Southern California. When she isn't perfecting clients' masterpieces or working on her own, you can find her trying new recipes, hosting at her apartment, or bingeing the latest bestseller.