By Kelli Mix
Kelli is the author of the 'Game Day Poker Almanac - Official Rules of Poker'. She lives in Carrollton, Georgia, where she is the state director for the Poker Players Alliance.
In order to host a perfect poker game you will need to invest in a good poker table. The kitchen table was great when you were practicing with the family, but now that you have regular guests coming to play poker it’s time to upgrade the accommodations. In order to select the right poker table for your game, there are several factors to take into consideration.
If the game is once a month, you can get away with purchasing an inexpensive table topper or a table that collapses and is easily stored. However, if you are running a regular poker game more than one night a week you will likely want to invest in a quality poker table that can remain in a stationary place.
How many players frequent your poker game? Ten or less, and one table will suffice; however, if you expect 18 or more players you will obviously need to purchase an additional table. If you are planning on running multi-table tournaments you will need several tables and cost will be a big factor in your decision making.
Most tournaments are followed up with a live-action game. In this situation it is common to purchase one expensive, quality poker table for the live game and several inexpensive table toppers for the duration of the tournament.
There are several poker table options on the market today.
These table toppers are typically blue with a rubber backing that sticks securely to any surface. The toppers are usually sized at 70’’x 35’’ and are conveniently water resistant. They can be placed on any oblong table and easily rolled up and stored when not in use. The toppers do have a tendency to curl up around the edges and not lay perfectly flat. They can be purchased online for approximately $45.
These mass produced poker table toppers can be purchased at almost any chain store for less than $50. They typically come shaped like an octagon when opened up and sized at 48’’ they can fit 8 people. These toppers have a green felt in the middle and are plastic around the edges. Most include chip and/or drink holders for the players and come with a handy carrying case for easy storage. You can also order oval models that include a padded rail for a little higher price of around $90.
These poker tables are used without the support of another table and can be set up as a self-standing poker table in any location. They are a bit smaller than a professional poker table, but you can fit 10 players at one table if you are passing the deal. If you are using a house dealer, you will likely prefer the table with only 9 player spots and a middle position for the dealer. With the padded armrests and a slightly padded felt top, these poker tables feel almost like a “real” poker table and can be purchased online ranging from $200 to $500.
Professional poker tables are much more expensive than any of the above listed options. The quality is far superior and most will last a lifetime. The felt will wear over time, but can be replaced. These poker tables are usually sized at approximately 96’’x 48’’ and fit ten players and one dealer comfortably. The tables are set lower to the ground and are very sturdy. Many online sites will allow you to customize the look of the table to meet your specific needs. A basic table without add-on’s ranges in price from $2,000 to $6,000. The following options will add to the price: mahogany wood, a dealer tray, drink holders, a tip tray or rake slot.
If you really want to impress your poker friends or take your home game to the next level, consider investing in a table with a built in automatic card shuffler, lights around the rim or at each player spot, or lipstick camera’s. For a price of approximately $10,000 you can order the complete works and have a table ready for a televised tournament. Of course you can shop around for a good deal, but these tables come with a hefty price tag. But if you’ve got the cash and love poker, then why not!
If you decide to splurge on a professional poker table, but hate that the table takes up wasted space, you can purchase a customized dining top. This custom topper will completely cover the poker table allowing you to use the table for other purposes without the risk of harming the felt. Many home games use the kitchen or dining room table, but with this your kitchen table can quite literally be your poker table. How cool is that?
The main surface of a poker table is not actually covered in true felt, though that is what most people call it. Felt would not be a smooth surface to deal on, in fact, the material would damage easily and small little balls of lint would quickly cover the surface. There is a similar type material called velveteen found on lower end tables. The material predominately used is a speed cloth that is made mostly of polyester and olefin, though you can also find a nylon velvet speed cloth or crushed velvet. Both types of velvet cloth are very soft and a little cheaper, but the cards really do not slide as easily as on the patterned polyester speed cloth (seen in the picture). There is also a non-patterned speed cloth that is solid and smooth for those players who do not prefer the feel of the patterned cloth. The most common complaint of the solid speed cloth is the surface is so smooth that the cards sometimes fly off the table when dealt.
You can purchase speed cloth by the yard in an array of colors, but green is by far the most popular selection. The price is less than $20 per yard or you can purchase a full pre-sized piece to match the size of your table for about $40 – $60. If you are unable to decide which color or material to use for your table, order a sample packet, which is offered by most companies for less that $5 and includes a small swatch of each fabric.
Custom cloth is a unique way to advertise or decorate the face of your poker table. Any name, logo or picture can be printed directly onto the felt, but it comes at a charge ranging between $250 to $500. Pre-designed options such as a sports team or playing cards are a little less expensive. Complicated or multi-colored designs or large photos will be much higher in price.
There are a lot of factors to consider when ordering a poker table for your regular poker game. Once you select a poker table, you will want to find chairs that fit around your table and are comfortable for your guests. Some poker tables will offer matching chairs. In addition, small drink tables, like the one to the left, will not only make your players feel special, they will also protect against spills on your brand new table. These table can be purchased online for around $100 each, but you really only need to have a few on hand since players can share the tables. Table covers can be purchased for less than $50 and are a good investment for protecting your poker table from dirt and dust.
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