More Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers
Chapter 3, Welcoming: Introductions and Icebreakers
Office poker games are a fun way to encourage your employees to get to know each other
better. These office poker games are especially useful for large call centers with a staff of 25
employees or more. This chapter excerpt from "More Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy
Managers" gives step-by-step instructions for starting an interactive game of office poker with
your call center staff.
Activities for team building in the call center
Table of contents:
Team building games for call center employees
Cell phone activities for call center teams
Office poker games to break the ice in the call center
Office poker games to break the ice in the call center
An icebreaker activity in which participants form good poker hands with cards handed to them at the beginning.
The purpose is...
For participants to have fun mingling and loosen up a bit and to increase the energy in the room.
Use this when...
- The group is large (more than 25 participants).
- Most people don't know each other.
- You don't have time for long introductions or icebreakers.
- You want a fun way to break a large group into teams of 5 members each.
Materials you'll need...
A deck of playing cards for every 30–40 participants (use three to four decks for a group of 98 participants)—all decks shuffled and mixed together.
1. As participants enter the room, hand each one a randomly chosen playing card from the mixed decks.
2. Give participants 5–10 minutes (depending on the size of the group) to compare cards and form groups of five members to construct the best five card poker hand they can.
Winning five-card poker hands in order from highest to lowest:
1. Royal Flush (10, J, Q, K, and Ace of the same suit).
2. Straight Flush (all five cards in sequence and of the same suit).
3. Four-of-a-Kind (four cards of equal rank).
4. Full House (three of equal rank with two different cards of equal rank).
5. Flush (any five cards of the same suit).
6. Straight (all five cards in sequence regardless of suit).
7. Three-of-a-Kind (three cards of equal rank).
8. Two Pair (two cards of equal rank with two different cards of equal rank).
9. Pair (two cards of equal rank).
10. High card (no pairs, the highest of the five cards determines strength).
Ask these questions...
- How did you decide which poker hand to pursue? (I had a 9 and so did the person next to me when
we started, so we figured we just needed two more; I don't know how to play poker, so I held up my
card and waited for someone to grab me; As soon as I figured out there were more Queens in the
room, I let go of the straight I was looking for and went after Queens.)
- Did anyone change teams after joining one? Why? How did it make the other team members feel? (I
did, but I felt guilty about it; She changed because they bribed her.)
- How much did the time limit factor into the game? (We were going for a Royal Flush, but the
time limit made us settle for a straight; We were done long before time was up, so we started
trading players to go from a Full House to Four-of-a-Kind.)
How might you play the game differently if we did this again next week? What strategies did you learn that would improve your hand?
Tips for success...
- Don't worry about having too many decks of cards to play with. More is better than not enough
(it allows teams to form "good" poker hands).
- You may want to award a small prize for the winning hand(s).
- For those not familiar with the rules, post the 10-item list of poker hands or pass them out on
- You can make it easier to form good hands by using more decks and pulling out all the 2s, 3s,
4s, and 5s.
- Beforehand, decide whether participants can begin forming the poker hands as soon as they get
their cards (as a reward for being early or on time) or whether they must wait until everyone is
present so that everyone starts at the same time.
- If more than one deck is used, be prepared to handle a tie breaker (because it's now possible
for two groups to get an identical Full House, for example).
- With multiple decks, be prepared for poker hands that are not possible with one deck (e.g.,
five Kings) and either outlaw them or include them in the hierarchy of winning hands that you post.
Try these variations...
- Use a different card game, such as gin rummy.
- Use this activity to divide large groups into teams of 5 for later work sessions, team-building
exercises, brain-storming sessions, and so forth.
- For smaller groups, or to help a group just pair up, post four randomly chosen cards and play a
version of Texas Hold'em. Participants pair up with someone whose card, with theirs and those
posted, create the best hand.
- Make the game easier (and quicker) by eliminating many of the winning poker hands. For example,
ask people to get into teams of Four-of-a-Kind or a Flush.
- Hand each participant two cards. Participants can choose only ONE to play with (which may
depend on what card others are looking for).
- Allow participants to select their cards. Don't let them talk with anyone or get cues from
anyone already in the room before they select their card!
- Have a Round 2. Once all the poker hands are made, announce that everyone must get into another
hand. No one can be in a hand with anyone they were with in Round 1. Did the poker hands get better
(stronger?) or not?
For virtual teams...
This activity isn't suitable for virtual teams.
Download Chapter 3, Welcoming: Introductions and Icebreakers
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This was first published in June 2008