This isn’t an article on poker tips: those articles involve a lot of math and basic strategies that I’m sure you’re familiar with. I wouldn’t know about that. But what I *do* know is that playing poker is awesome, and oddly tough to pull of in college. People talk about playing it, but do they? Now you will. It’s easy.

1. Timing

Timing is the main trick of setting up a successful poker game. A common misconception is to try to set up a weekly time: good luck with that- that’s a sitcom-type trick, and you don’t want t box in college, the freest time of your life, with commitments. Another major problem is the weekend fallacy: everyone assumes a weekend night is the best time for this but that’s the best night for everything. People are busy drinking and partying then: poker doesn’t beat that out.

Instead, find a late afternoon, like a five PM start time on a weekend (or Sunday) with an assured end time of around seven. It can go late if it has to, but so many people over-estimate the fun they’ll have that the game becomes a chore by the end. Avoid that and make your timing shine.

2. Alternatives

Paradoxical as it sounds, if you want a successful poker game, you’re going to have to plan for alternatives.

Is your house a chill zone regardless? Are these people you’d be wanting to spend time with? Is there an Xbox or a keg nearby? Someone is going to lose interest or lose their chips, but you don’t want them to leave the house.

A poker game is a lot of work to set up and it’s not worth wasting all that energy by having the game be limited to just the game itself. So, do more with it: have more stuff around and use poker as a common-bond to set your day up.

3. Get the numbers.

You’re going to need five to six players. It’s a five-dollar buy-in, with one additional buy-in per player. You’re going to budget an hour and a half for the actual game and make sure there are two and a half beers around for every player.

If that sounds specific, it’s for a reason. A four-player game is short and a disaster when one places out. A seven-person game can become a confusing mess of people forgetting who bets what. If you don’t play for money, people get bored, but if someone loses twenty bucks, they might end up sulking all night.

Poker the game is about numbers, but the social numbers are what matter here.

4. Keep It Simple, Keep It Calm

No wildcards and no games with confusing names. No intense bluffs, or trying to find out calls. No playing percentages like some sort of savant. Play it to play: for fun. You’d be surprised how terrible it is to play with “good” players and how good it is to play with “terrible” players.

Think of it this way: you’re paying $5 for a good time. It’s cheaper then a movie and hey, you might even win. If you’re playing to win, sure, you might win, but you might lose something bigger.