As promised, I would like to go over some basic and not-so-basic necessities for running a good tournament. The first phase was a good structure, the second is physical equipment: cards, chips and tables.
By far the leaders in playing cards are KEM and COPAG. Both make very durable and sexy-looking plastic cards. They are actually made from a material called cellulose acetate and the production process takes up to a month for each deck! The cards last a lifetime, and usually have upwards of an eight-year guarentee. If a card breaks or becomes creased (very hard to do) you can send it back to the manufactor and they will replace it. If they become dirty you can put them in the dishwasher.
The only downfall is the price. Compared to paper cards (like Bicycle, which can cost almost $0.50 a pack or less), they run about $15 a deck retail. You can find good deals on sites like eBay or simply search for KEM or COPAG cards in google to find a variety of online venders. Of course you could always buy them from KEM and COPAG’s respective websites. I highly reccommend plastic cards for a serious poker player, the feel and prestige of plastic cards will make anyone feel like a high roller.
Since the boom of TV poker and internet poker the standard poker chip for home guys has moved from the 1 gram plastic POSs to the 11.5g chips. They come in a variety of colors and decor, but most cases come with 300-500 chips and feature 3-4 colors. On eBay they can go for as low as $25, but you can probably get them retail for near $50.
Frankly these chips are fine for any home game. To go above and beyond the call of duty the new line of superior poker chips are more and more all-clay based, the kind the casinos use today. Chips like Paulson and Nevada Jacks and other high-quality clay chips go for $1 a chip and up, but no home game deserves that kind of chips unless you’re a rich bastard.
All sorts of new poker tables and tabletops are available, from Dicks Sporting Goods to online stores like eBay and vegas supply sites. For an entire table you can expect to pay $200+, and it goes up to the $600+ level for a nice all-wood table (as in not fold-out). For the tabletops however a serious player with a modest budget could afford one for around $50 (add shipping and handling for online retailers). From my experience the tabletops are fairly cheap quality, but much better than playing on a kitchen table.
My roommates and I bought this table and were very impressed. It is folded for easy storage and the felt is nicely padded with 10 cup holders in a rubber lining. We use it in our weekly tournament for the feature table and final tables, it is a big hit. For the more wealthy, extravagant persons, or just for some amazing tables to drool at, check out Stine Game Tables, oh sweet heaven.
So once you got your chips, tables, and cards, what’s next? Shuffle up and deal! Good luck!