June 22, 2022

Organize a superb game of poker at home: the poker table

As many of our poker experiences have grown to include casinos and dedicated poker rooms, our expectations have also grown for our own personal poker environment.

In the past, poker was played on anything, anywhere. I’ve played on kitchen tables, an ottoman, a park bench, a counter in a restaurant, and the back seat of my car. I even played on the ground outside with three guys huddled in a circle during a snowstorm. (We were waiting to be picked up at the university – it was difficult to deal with gloves.)

How do you build your own poker table?

How do you build your own poker table?

You can build your DIY poker table with just plywood, foam, and felt. But it’s not as simple as that; there is more than that. Building your own poker table encompasses a lot of things, so read this before you start because we bring you the DIY guide to building your own poker table.

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Things have changed. Today, when we attend home games, we often expect to be playing at a real, dedicated poker table. Here are some thoughts on how to acquire the right poker table for you – and what budget to expect.

The poker table: different types for different budgets

Just as players can play poker at the stakes they prefer, poker tables exist for every budget imaginable.

You can buy something as cheap as a folding table top that will fit over any existing table – they’re brand new for as little as $40 to $70. You can even get them for less by checking out used ones on eBay or Craigslist.

Poker is one of those hobbies that grabs people’s interest for a brief period of time, and when that interest wanes, they still have tables, chip games, cards, etc. If they can recoup the money they lost playing poker by selling one of these poker-related items, they consider it a bargain. So expect good deals on used equipment. (Sometimes people even give them away.)

One step up from the table top is an actual table that folds up. At the bottom of the scale, there are cheap ones made (usually from China) that you can get for around $150. But these look really cheap, with the crease marks completely visible even when the stiff cardboard table is fully open. There is often also some deformation in the table and instability in the thin, cheap folding legs.

Better would be an eight-sided wooden poker table, with folding legs, a vinyl or felt table top, surrounded by an “apron” with cup holders. Such a table is, I think, the minimum quality for any regular poker game that is not run by a high school or college student. I bought mine in 1994 for around $150, and after more than two decades of frequent use, it’s still perfectly serviceable. You can still find them in specialty stores and online for around $200.

A disadvantage of this table is that it does not accommodate the nine or ten players that you would want for a casino-style full ring hold’em game or tournament. This rarely bothered me, as I had a regular group that liked to play stud and draw, which meant the game rarely went over eight players. But if you want what you see in a casino, you’ll have to opt for the oval table.

The best rule of thumb I can apply is that when it comes to poker tables, you tend to get what you pay for. The cheapest oval tables are the ones I described earlier and can be had for around $150. A step up are firmer but still fairly inexpensive tables for $275 to $350.

The table that I recommend as a permanent addition to your poker room starts at around $500 to $600. These have firm, flat, level wooden bases, beautiful felt, vinyl or leather-trimmed cushion, and sturdy, securely affixed folding legs underneath. You can also add features that make the table even more enjoyable, depending on your tastes, including built-in cup holders, cutout space for a dealer and chip tray, and custom felt and felt designs.

I had my table made by a local pub league company who also make tables for home use. With all the bells and whistles, including delivery and a money back guarantee, mine was around $700 a few years ago. It seemed like a lot at the time, but if you think it’s going to last you several hundred poker sessions, it’ll only cost you a few dollars a game. In my opinion, it is worth it.

The Poker Table: Covering the Basics

The next element to consider is the base. Are you looking for something that can be moved in and out of a room – or even into someone else’s house once in a while? If so, then you want folding legs. On the other hand, if you have a dedicated poker den or room and you plan to make the poker table a permanent fixture, then you should get the pedestal base. It is more beautiful, more robust and makes the table more impressive and imposing. This last option will probably cost you around $100-200 extra.

There are also many more expensive options. Once your table is considered a permanent piece of furniture, the sky is the limit, as all manner of woods, finishes, and handcrafted designs come into play. Some can double as a beautiful dining table, either by adding a cover optional that serves as a table top. One model even has a swing-out tabletop – a dining table on one side and an eight-segment poker table on the other, with a depression for chips and a cup holder. These types of tables will cost you between $700 and $2,000.

Of course, you can also spend a lot more on a table. You can go online and find absolutely gorgeous poker tables for $5,000 and up. I even saw one that is encrusted with jewels and sells for $20,000.

Another consideration that no one had considered until recently is whether you want to consider using your table to record a poker show. There are now tables built with card cameras, electrical hookups, and even phone charging stations. As you can imagine, these options don’t come cheap. You can get a table with them for a few thousand.

Finally, for those of you who are even a little DIY, you might want to consider buying plans for a table and then building it yourself. The materials are very simple and inexpensive. I’ve spoken to many people who say it’s really not difficult to cut the wood, add the felt, put on the foam filled apron including the cup holders, then attach the legs . They said it only took them about four hours (not including time to let the adhesive used for the felt and cushions dry), with the total material cost being only about $85. Blueprints are available to buy for around $45 – and you can build it exactly how you want.

The Poker Table: Other Considerations

There are a few other considerations when buying a poker table. For one thing, you have to think about where you’re going to put it. Ideally, you want to make sure you have room for well-padded, reclining, rolling, and adjustable poker chairs and small tables for food and drinks.

You also want to make sure there is excellent lighting. I recommend track lighting which allows you to move high intensity lights around the ceiling to accommodate different tables you might have in the room at different times. I also have a nice center light to light up the whole room and eliminate many of the shadows that high intensity lights can cast.

To complete the room, make sure there is good temperature control, plenty of places for people to plug in their phones and other electronics, maybe a fridge with a freezer for drinks and food. ice, a microwave for reheating food and a full liquor cabinet. You’ll also want to make sure you have TVs mounted on the walls for gamers who need to be distracted on their hands.

Put it all together and you have a great poker room.

Addendum: A professional poker table builder challenged my estimate of the price of building your own table, rightly pointing out, I now believe, that it costs a lot more for someone to build their table than I do. had estimated. You can find his answer on my personal blog.

Also in this series…

Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles and two books, 7 card stud winner (Kensington 2003) and Win at No-Limit Hold’em (Lighthouse 2012). He is also the host of a radio show about poker. Card castle. See www.houseofcardsradio.com for broadcast times, stations and podcasts.

Photo: poker tableslgckgc, CC BY-2.0.

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Ashley Adams