This Is the Optimal Number of Players for a Poker Game

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Just as there’s a fixed number of cards used in poker, there’s a limit to the number of players allowed in a poker game. Without a limit, the probability of an opponent’s hand defeating yours would be too high, and no one would be willing to bet unless they’re holding the strongest hand, otherwise known as the nut hand.

The optimal number of players for a poker game is nine, with some casinos and card rooms willing to accommodate ten players under the right set of circumstances. Most casinos and card rooms restrict this number to nine to increase the amount of rake they collect by the end of the night. 

In this article, we’ll look at why limiting the number of players is crucial to a good poker game.

The Optimal Number of Players for a Home Poker Game

In theory, you can play poker with up to 22 players.

You’ll need five face-up cards on the table and three in the burn pile. Taking these eight cards out of the game leaves you with 44 cards to be distributed and two cards per player. So, in theory, you can deal 22 players into a poker game.

But casinos and card rooms use tables roughly between 90” and 100” (2.29-2.54 m) in length and 44” (1.12 m) in width. This table is just big enough for nine players and one dealer to sit comfortably.

The table is also small enough for the dealer to deal efficiently and push chips to the winning player. Aside from the discomfort, more players translate to long, drawn-out rounds, reducing the rake earned by the casino or the card room. 

Poker rooms earn a commission on each hand, and fewer hands mean a lower overall commission at the end of the night.

Home poker games are slightly different as there’s no standard table size, and there’s usually no rake involved. However, it still works to limit the number of players for a few reasons.

Let’s take a quick look at these reasons.

Table Size

Most people do not have a gigantic table at home that can host 22 players. Some homes don’t even have a table that can seat nine or ten people. For purely practical purposes, it makes sense to limit the number of players.

Efficient Dealing

It’s easier to keep track of the table when there’s a limit to the number of players involved. Dealing can be time-consuming and chaotic when there’s overcrowding at the poker table, and there are higher chances of mishaps.

Dynamic Game

Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, and most other poker games are only enjoyable because the elements of risk, skill, and luck are constantly at play. 

A player’s abilities play a significant role in determining their winnings at the poker table. When there are few players, the number of possible combinations you need to play against is significantly reduced. 

As such, you have a more extensive range of hands to play, and you can be a part of most pots where your cards are favorable. 

But if you’re playing with 15-20 people, the possibility of a player holding the winning cards is significantly increased, and you’re less likely to bet, even with a decent hand.

It becomes impossible to play without second-guessing every move you make or without the perfect hand. The increased players reduce the number of possible hands you can play with, greatly reducing the excitement and anticipation that form an integral part of every poker game.

Quicker Rounds

Another reason why limiting the number of players is essential is to ensure that a hand doesn’t take too long to complete. A hand of Texas Hold’Em lasts between 10 seconds and 10 minutes, even with the optimal number. 

When there are more players involved, each hand will take longer to complete. 

Players contemplate their decisions for a few minutes before placing a bet, calling, or folding, and this can take up a lot of time when aggregated.

The players who have folded must wait for the entire round to finish before being dealt new cards in the next round. And in poker, most hands are folded, which means players are waiting a long time before they get to play again.

These long waits interrupt the dynamism or flow of the game and make poker less enjoyable to those involved.

These are a few of the reasons why limiting the number of players makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable round of poker.

Today, some poker rooms (especially online) have what’s known as a “6-max” table, allowing only six players to play at once. The reduced number of players creates a more engaging and exciting environment to play in, as you get to play more hands than you would at a regular game. 

Can You Play Poker With 10 Players?

As mentioned, most casinos and poker rooms restrict the number of players at a table to nine, to ensure the games are fun and exciting. But this isn’t always the case. 

You can play poker with 10 players if required. Playing with ten players, however, can greatly slow down the game as each hand takes longer to complete. However, even some casinos squeeze 10 players onto a table when they get the opportunity.

But 10 players is the upper limit only in Texas Hold’Em and Omaha. The other popular forms of poker have a lower maximum limit.

Type of PokerMaximum Limit
Seven Card Stud8
Five Card Draw5
Chicago Hi-Low8
Follow the Queen7
The maximum number of players for different types of poker games.

These other styles of poker use more cards per player than Hold’Em or Omaha, which is why they mandate a lower maximum limit.

Planning to host a home poker game? Then the article about how many poker chips do you exactly need and the article perfect food and drinks for a poker night will be a great resource for you.

Final Thoughts

In theory, poker can be played with any number of players, provided you have enough cards to deal.

However, allowing too many people makes the game rigid and based more on luck than individual skill. To truly enjoy poker, each player must have enough room to test their skills, and this is only possible if the number of players is restricted to the optimal amount.