At the PCA PokerStars party back in January, as we balanced plates of pasta in one hand and rum drinks in the other, Daniel Negreanu elaborated on the groundbreaking new PokerStars initiative, Home Games. With his typical boyish charm, Daniel explained the basics: create your own poker club, structure the game yourself and take advantage of a number of PokerStars promotions for Home Game pioneers.
Home Game Video Competition finalists were also unveiled, with the winning team to receive $10,000 for their Home Game. One featured exuberant Million Dollar Challenge contestant Carmenlita Cothron, who plays on PokerStars as "Afrolishus." Another showed a trio of amply endowed Brazilian men dressed in skimpy bikinis. (Watch the video here to see what I mean!)
Though the Ipanema Girls did not fit into their bathing suits, they won the video competition. In Home Games, it's all about doing your own thing.
Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso appealed to the female contingent while extolling the ability of Home Games to allow you to "design your own game" and keep track of point standings, encouraging members of the PokerStars Women community to "join me in creating one of your own today!" From Texas to Germany, the women of PokerStars have taken Vanessa's advice, using creativity and networking to create their own poker clubs.
Stella Davila of Richmond, Texas created her Home Game to improve her own deep-stacked game. She chose 5000 in starting chips and 20-minute levels and said, "I feel this is the best way to practice for a live event that may last for days." Stella, who goes by "tenstiks" online, attracts players to her Home Game via facebook. Although the group is open to men and women, the field is predominantly female, with many players from the PokerStars Women's Poker League. Stella's Home Game also awards league leaders gift certificates to TensTown.com, her online garden decor store.
PuntersLounge.com, a British poker forum, has also created a Home Game with a critical mass of female players. Gina Weiss of Munich says that this allows her to "get to know the playing style of other players more easily." She also enjoys the friendlier nature of the chat. "People are much less likely to call me a donk!" PuntersLounge.com poker manager Graeme Morl said that "you get to spend time with your friends" and at the same time, "become a better player." The Punters Lounge group even awards pink PokerStars hoodies and T$ to league leaders at the end of each month.
Friend of PokerStars and gamer Charlotte van Brabander also enjoys the social aspect of Home Games, "I always post on facebook if I put a tourney up. It's usually a $5 tournament and I can play with my fans. It's great because most people who play are gamers just like me. So we talk about geeky things while playing cards."
For Jennifer Tokarek, Home Games are a way to expose her friends to new poker games. Her 8-Game Mix Home Game is "a great opportunity to learn among friends for a nominal buy-in." Jennifer was inspired to start the 8-game by her poker playing mentor, her mother, Lillian Tokarek. Jennifer said, "She is always encouraging my friends and me to become the best all around poker players we can be."
Lillian, who goes by "CedarValley "online, reminds players of game rules to those who might be unfamiliar. For example, in Razz, she would type in the chat box... "Aces are low, get the lowest five-card hand out of your seven cards, the best hand you can get is A,2,3,4,5, and it doesn't matter if they are all suited." Although Jennifer's club is not exclusive to women, it is predominantly female: "Any guys wanting to join, better bring their A game as many female poker players in my club have made one or more final tables in major poker tournaments, including at least five televised final table appearances between us!"
Home Games are also a way to expand your poker social network, which is not only an opportunity for fun, but also for improvement, as you discuss hands and share strategy tips with a tight-knit group. When Team PokerStars Pro Victoria Coren talked to PokerStars.tv about Home Games, she said "I like extending it out so it's more like a facebook/social network....it's quite fun to start Home Games...(in which for example) you're all fans of Desperate Housewives, or you're all single." Vicky also believes that Home Games can help attract serious poker devotees as well as casual players looking for a fun night in. "Suddenly I had this vision for how playing online poker could become a lot more sociable."