Key Tips
Table of Contents -- You can view the table of contents by clicking this button from anywhere in the course.
Search -- Find relative topics using the search function.
Bookmarks -- Use our intuitive bookmarking system for quick recall of your favorite topics. This feature supports bookmarks from all courses you have access too.
User Notes -- Store personal notes as you study each topic.
User Menu -- Course navigation, account access, and other user options.
Question or suggestion?

How To Run A Profitable Bar Poker League

What Is Poker League Franchise?

Poker League Franchise is the blueprint for bar poker league owners who want to improve their existing live poker leagues or create a pub poker league from scratch. Here we share everything we did, and are currently doing, to run our successful and profitable pub poker league franchise in Georgia (USA) called the Atlanta Poker Club.

Texas Hold'em Poker League Tournament Packed With Poker Players
Packed Atlanta Poker Club game. Founded in 2004 as the first Poker League Franchise, the APC now runs 160+ poker league games a month at bars & pubs.

Through all the ups and downs over the past 16 years we have learned what it takes to make a bar poker league successful and profitable. We have learned what to do and what not to do. In the process we've developed unique and dynamic poker league products and services. They make any pub poker league run like a well oiled machine.

How Does A Free Poker League Make Money?

Since most pub poker leagues are free to play, people wonder how they make money.

  • Free poker leagues make money by charging a venue (bars, pubs, restaurants) to host a poker league event at their location. Usually on a given day and time for an agreed upon rate and period of time.
  • The poker league company provides all the equipment and labor to run a quality poker game, along with the league structure, player points system, stats administration and prizes.
  • The venue provides the space for the poker tournament, tables for the table tops to sit on, chairs for all of the players, wait staff, and prizes.  The players purchase food and drinks from the venue, which provides revenue to cover and exceed their costs of doing business that night.

When done correctly the poker league benefits, the venue benefits, and the players benefit.

How Do You Start A Pub Poker League?

When we started our pub or bar poker league back in 2004, we were the first in Georgia and one of only a few in the country. We were using our own casino and home poker tournament knowledge to put our pub poker league together.

Today we've made it much easier to learn everything you need to know to create a successful, profitable bar poker league. You'll either need to know each step or hire people who do. Here are the steps:

  • Learn How To Play Poker - You need to know how to play poker first, specifically Texas Hold'em, before starting your league. You'll need to know all the rules and adjust any specific rules to fit your league that may differ from TD Association Rules or Roberts Rules of Poker. See our free Texas Hold'em course created for pub poker league players.
  • Learn How To Deal Poker - This is the basic starting point for a poker game first, then a poker league. If you don't know how to deal like a professional poker dealer or have people you can hire that do, you won't have any credibility. Serious poker players want to play in a game where they don't have to worry about if the game is being dealt properly. If you don't know how to deal, then try our #1 selling Poker Dealer School and training course, Dealer Training.
  • Learn How To Host A Poker Tournament - Once you learn to deal poker, you need to know how to run poker tournaments. It's just as important to have great Tournament Directors to keep the flow of the game going, just like dealers, only at the tournament level, with more responsibilities, down to the last player. Our #1 selling training course to become a professionally trained Tournament Director, Director Training, is another best bet.
  • Find Venues to Host your Poker League Events - If you're a pro at dealing and directing poker, then your next step is to create your poker league and find venues that will pay you to host events. Find venues that have great food, drinks and customer service that already have clientele on some nights of the week, but need a boost on slower nights. It's a great way to get into the venue, and if your game thrives, you can expand to other nights at the same venue.
  • Hire Your Staff - You'll need competent poker dealers and tournament directors for your league to succeed. It should be part of your Poker League Business Plan. We started our poker league with a staff of a few. With the founders (and some of our friends) manning the ship as the dealers and directors. We now have a staff of paid tournament directors and volunteer poker dealers. They make things run smoothly. You'll find most all of your staff at your events. You'd also be served to hire an office director that manages the league staff, paperwork, payments, etc.
  • Attract Poker Players to your Poker League - Start your Poker League Marketing efforts at the venue. If people already frequent the venue, then if they also play poker, they should be an easy sell to your league. Post banners throughout the venue. Use Table Tents to market to the venue customers while at their table. Expand your marketing efforts from there.
  • Manage your Poker League & Tournament Information - When you run one or several poker tournaments and keep track of the results, you will soon find yourself buried in paperwork. To relieve yourself the pain of managing your poker league with excel, use our Free Poker League Software service. Includes Poker Leaderboards that display on any website. It's great whether you manage the information and money yourself or you hire someone to do it for you.

Our Pub Poker League Has Thrived For 16+ Years - How Do We Do It?

Do you know what you need to focus on as the owner or manager of a pub poker league? Here are the TOP 10+ things we focus on, why we focus on them and how that focus makes our poker league a success.

  • Poker Players - The lifeblood of your poker league. Without the poker players, the league doesn't exist. Without more poker players, the league doesn't grow. Your marketing efforts should focus on bringing passionate poker players into your league. Casual players will follow. Your player pool is also where you'll find the majority of your staff.
  • Staff - The glue of your league. Almost every person that has worked for the APC, was at one time a player. Players become dealers and dealers become tournament directors. Hire an office director that will manage the accounting, book keeping, poker league staff & information. Your Dealers and Tournament Directors are also a direct reflection of your company and poker game to the players, so train them well and you'll reap the benefits into the future.
  • Venues - The pulse of your league. You can have the best players and staff around, but your league won't work if you don't take the time to find venues that have good tasting, affordable, food and drinks with good customer service. A venue also needs plenty of room for the amount of poker tables you'll need to setup. We use poker table tops.
  • Game Quality - Your poker league's competitive advantage. The APC's goal is to run every free poker league tournament to as close to casino quality as possible. This takes the highest quality staff, including trained, competent and skilled Poker Dealers and Tournament Directors. Run a quality game and you'll attract quality players.
  • Game Integrity -   Nothing will tank your league faster than if your players think the game isn't being run with the highest integrity. If you keep to game quality, then game integrity shouldn't be an issue. Cheating should not be tolerated at all. There may be times when you need to ban or suspend players from your league, to keep that integrity intact.
  • Poker League System - Establish a points system for your league. Layout your seasons, daily games, special events and promotions. Track player points on poker leaderboards to foster competition. Use a poker league management software to track all of your poker tournament information, including player finish position and staff hours.
  • Poker League Tools - We realized from day one that we wanted to grow our poker league. We knew we would have trouble growing without the best poker league tools. Some tools we use to train our poker dealers and tournament directors. Others we use to keep track of all our poker league stats, information and documents.
  • Prizes - Everybody loves to win a prize. Cash is king, but so are seats into poker tournaments. Poker players love the chance to win a seat into a tournament they would never be able to play-in otherwise. And when you see a picture of one of your poker players sitting on Antonio Esfandiari while cashing at the WSOP Main Event, you'll love it too!
  • Special Events - Daily and nightly games and tournaments are where players earn points, win bar cash, gear and more. Special events are where your players can win the larger prizes like WSOP seats. Qualifications for special events can vary, but are setup to encourage participation in the daily and nightly games.
  • Promotions - Promotions keeps your poker league fresh and exciting. Use the holidays to give away bonus chips. Wear green on St Patty's Day and get 1000 bonus chips. Become a VIP. Wear your poker league gear this night and earn extra chips. Cash prizes for certain events. Nerd night. Etc. Keep it fresh and keep it fun.
  • Charity - Bring your poker league together for great causes. The APC sponsors yearly poker tournaments for Toys for Tots, food collection locations for food banks, and school supplies for teachers. Our poker players have donated tens of thousands of dollars to these charities. It's important to give back to our community members in need.

Learn To Pack Your Bar Poker League Events

Check out the Atlanta Poker Club video below which shows what a pretty good turnout for a poker league tournament event looks like. We've had crowds like this since the beginning. Granted, not all events will attract this many players, but if you follow the lessons taught by Poker League Franchise, many will. And many events will attract more.

We layout everything here that you need to know to run and grow your poker league business.