In an article we posted back in 2020 about improving management for remote employees, we pointed out that work-from-home numbers had been skyrocketing even before the pandemic. The numbers of WFH employees rose by 173% between 2005 and 2018, which speaks to why the trend won’t go away even when the pandemic is fully behind us.
As discussed in that article, there are numerous important ways to ensure that remote team members stay engaged –– from linking employee goals to those of the company, to helping employees set those goals, and more. Another way in which many companies are seeking to engage their remote teams, however, is through remote games. This can work in all sorts of different ways, but there are specific reasons for remote employees to be playing games. First, studies have indicated that gaming can relieve stress in trying times; second, there is research indicating that game breaks can improve productivity; and third, games give remote teams a way to socialize that doesn’t revolve around work.
Those benefits can apply to all kinds of specific games. But one that has been made particularly relevant –– thanks to the dominant video chat platform Zoom releasing its own version –– is poker. So in this brief guide we’re going to provide some tips for starting up a virtual poker night with your remote team.
Set it up – First, of course, you’ll need to set up the game. Zoom launched its own poker game last summer –– known then as Live Game Night, but since rebranded as AceTime Poker. The game is an app “embedded in Zoom Meetings” that any user can add to Zoom desktop. Once people have it, up to 10 can join a live chat with built-in virtual poker.
Distribute rules – The AceTime poker app revolves around Texas Hold’em poker, so you’ll next want to ensure everyone knows the rules. In broad strokes, it’s a game in which each player gets two cards, and then uses three of five communal cards to build a hand –– with some betting and decision-making mixed in, of course. But to ensure everyone on the team can have fun, it’s best to distribute a more detailed guide that people can read and refer to.
Distribute hand rankings – In addition to the rules, it’s for the best to distribute a clear chart of poker hand rankings as well. For any experts in the group this won’t be necessary. But for beginner and even intermediate players it will be helpful to be able to peek at a chart to assess the strength of a hand. Knowing quickly that your flush will beat the three-of-a-kind you suspect a coworker has, for instance, makes the game simpler and more fun. Meanwhile, a chart like this can also give probabilities for each hand, such that beginning players know what’s realistic to shoot for (probably not the 0.000154% chance of landing a royal flush!).
Set playful stakes – Finally, unless you have a team in which everyone is completely okay with cash betting, consider setting some playful stakes! Betting is part of Texas Hold’em, but you don’t have to use real money. The AceTime poker app sets you up to play with purely virtual chips to begin with. But from there, you can concoct rewards for the players who end the game with the most chips. A small gift cards, for instance, is a perfect touch if the business can swing it (even $10 worth is a fun prize).
And that’s about it! As you’re likely well aware at this point, the pandemic has given rise to lots of great games to play over video chat; people have found their way to chess, Pictionary, and plenty more. But thanks to Zoom’s own built-in app, a virtual poker game has also become an easy, fun way to engage your remote teams.