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The Final Table: The Complete Guide to Poker Tables

If you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the sport, this guide will equip you with all the info you need to pick out the perfect poker table for you and your guests. Whether you’re entertaining your friends for your regular poker night or you’re hosting a larger event, it’s best to be informed about the types of tables on offer and what to look out for when purchasing.

Poker is a game well-loved internationally and it continues to find new fans each year. Some figures state there to be as many as 100 million active poker players worldwide. The emergence and popularity of internet poker has brought with it swathes of new players, many of which look to transition from the laptop to the table.

Poker professional Nick Brancato aka Nicky Numbers who started his career online, admits he’d never touched a real poker chip let alone a table before competing in his first live tournament. He bought a set of chips specifically to practice and become acquainted with so he didn’t falter on game day.

The Final Table: The Complete Guide to Poker Tables

The Fundamentals of the Table

Professional tables are of wooden construction but consumer tables with metal legs are also available. The important thing is the poker table surface is solid and even.

The Shape

  • Oval – the most popular shape that you’re likely to find in a casino and depending on size, good for a range of player numbers. It’s versatile in so much as fewer players are able to sit opposite one another along the short width.
  • Circular – usually good for up to 8 players with each player claiming an equal amount of table real estate.
  • Octagonal – similar to a circular table but with defined straight edges. With octagonal tables it’s harder to squeeze in that extra player

The Rail

A leather or vinyl leatherette padded armrest that runs around the perimeter of the table. Between the rail and the playing surface often exists a wooden section known as the racetrack. The racetrack may have recessed cup holders or a place to store chips.

The Final Table The Complete Guide to Poker Tables

Play Surface Fabrics

The baize is crucial to get right so the cards can be dealt easily and don’t snag. Care and longevity are also factors to consider.

Speed Felt

The new king of poker table playing surfaces, speed felt or speed cloth is a polyester based fabric developed specifically for the role. Cards glide effortlessly and water and stain resistance is built in, which is handy when inevitably a drink finds its way onto it. Speed felts are available plain or in a variety of stock designs including checkerboard and card suit patterns.

Velveteen or Microsuede

One option is a velveteen (or velveret) playing surface. Usually made from cotton or a cotton silk blend, it has a soft feel and cards slide moderately well over it in the hands of an experienced dealer.

Microsuede is a type of man-made microfiber material. It usually has a subtle but visible nap which can inhibit the cards ability to slide in one direction. It might not be a problem if you have a dedicated dealer position, but if your dealer is moving around the table, there are better options to choose from.

Both velveteen and microsuede are less expensive than velvet but bear in mind they are usually quite absorbent should a drink spill occur. We recommend Scotchgarding your playing surface to extend the life.

Foam Underlay

Rarely is the cloth laid directly onto the wooden board underneath. To give the surface a tactile feel a layer of foam sits underneath the felt. If you’re attempting your own build, you’ll want foam from a roll at least as wide as the table so you don’t end up with any join lines.

Customization

Manufacturers offer customizable options allowing you to put your own stamp on your table. Speed cloth can be printed with full widthcustom graphics so you can let your imagination run wild.

An additional wooden surface is sometimes included (or can be constructed) to not only protect the table when not in use but to double the functionality as a dining table. This inclusion might make it easier to justify the purchase with a significant other.

The Final Table: The Complete Guide to Poker Tables

Accessories

Chip trays for the dealer and/or players, chip sets, a dealer button, a six-deck card shoe; you can accessorize your new table to your heart’s content. And if you’re often playing high stakes games you could consider investing in a security toke box to be installed in the table for the cash.

Budget Options

If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated space for your poker table, there are some alternatives which might better suit your needs.

Roll out mats are a great entry level option and there is a wide range of choice and quality among them. Mats can be found to suit different sizes tables and come in a range of surface materials.

Folding table toppers is probably the next level up from a mat. A more solid construction but does have the unfortunate folds to contend with when dealing and moving cards around the surface.

Finally, folding tables are a good middle ground between a temporary mat and a permanent table and work well for a lot of people. Only the legs fold away on some models making the storage space required a little bulkier but keeping the surface itself completely intact. Other tables fold away to a smaller size but like the table toppers will have fold lines.

Chairs

Once you’ve got the table just right, you’re going to need to address the issue of seating. Factors worth considering are the height of the playing surface, comfort and stylistic choices.

If your chairs aren’t height adjustable they’ll need to be at a suitable level to play. They should be comfortable enough to last the distance of a long late night session so as not to offer any excuses that an uncomfortable chair was the difference between winning or losing.

Stylistically you can opt for a more traditional form or modern gaming style chairs but they should match the look of the table. Other options include arm rests, swivel chairs, castors and your choice of fabric.

A Self Build Project

Building your own custom poker table allows you to personalise every step of the process. We won’t go into details of a build project in this article but this guide is a great place to start.

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