If you and your poker friends and family are currently playing on your dining room table and are looking to add some casino style fun to the game, then a folding poker table top is a great idea. I would liken playing poker on your kitchen table with a blanket or towel thrown over it, to playing monopoly with the board drawn on a sheet and the money clipped out of notebook paper. It just takes something out of the game.
Sure you could buy a felt poker layout and spread it out over the table making it a little better, but the creases where it folds drive me nuts and catch the cards when you try to deal, and forget about sliding chips across the table even if you have the corners taped down slot online.
A poker table top adds a nice casino feel to your game and really does make it a lot more fun. There are several sizes and styles of tops you can choose from, so you need to find the one that’s right for you and your situation. I will cover the main things to consider before you make the purchase to be sure you are going to get out of it what you hoped for.
1. Size and shape: If you currently are playing on a kitchen or dining table that is either round or square, and around 48 inches plus/minus 8 inches, you would want to look at the octagon poker table tops. If you are playing on a rectangular or oval table, then you should look at the rectangular or oval shaped table tops. Size does make a difference as well as the material the poker top is made of. For a foam top, you should not extend over the edges of the table you will sit it on by more than a few inches. The wooden tops can be as much as 4 – 6 inches over the edges without too much problem. The reason you care is that if someone leans on the table top with their arms or elbows, the top will tip or pop up in the middle and your chip stacks will be knocked over. This can get real irritating.
I have had several people ask me if they can use a 36″ card table as a base, and generally I would say no. For one thing your game will be disturbed often as stated previously, plus the cheap flimsy legs on most of these card tables are not sturdy enough to hold the weight of the wood table tops.
If you find that you really don’t have a table to use as a base, and you have the room, then a standalone octagon poker table is a good option since it has it’s own legs. If you really have the room you can even go with a full size folding poker table.
2. Materials: There are 2 basic materials used to make poker table tops. One is a foam type substance that is light and fairly durable and do tend to be the lowest cost tops. The upside is they are great for traveling games where you play at a different persons’ house every game because of their light weight and carrying case or bag with handles. They are usually under 20 pounds so the are very portable and they fold up into a nice small size. The downside is they are not nearly as durable as the wood table tops and will need to be replaced with wear. Because of their low price they tend to be great as gifts too.
The wooden based table are usually made of 1/2″ to 5/8″ plywood and are more durable than the foam. They also are able to have some high end features that you normally only see on real poker tables like padded felt and armrests giving a much more casino sound and feel to them. They are much heavier so are not as easily disturbed during play by people leaning on them or standing up at the table and bumping it.
I personally have one of each of these types of table tops, the foam for my traveling games, and a wooden top for my home games. I also have a folding poker table but that is another topic.
3. Features: Once you have determined what size, shape, and material your table top should be, the most fun part is to select the colors and designs. There are tops made specifically for Texas Holdem, some for multiple games like craps and roulette as well as poker, and some that you can pretty much use with any card game. The lower cost foam tops are much less to ship so will save you money, they also tend to be the most colorful when it comes to designs. The high end tops have poker table style features like wooden underbase, padding under the felt, and padded armrests. The quality of the felt is also better and more consistent with real casino tables.
The padded felt on the premium wood tops tends to make them feel more authentic to the touch, but the best part is the sound. There is a soft “plink” sound when the chips hit each other and the table, and the chips don’t bounce around as much. Dealing across the better felt is smoother and also a plus. I also like the cushioned armrests for player comfort on a long game night. If you have the budget for it, a premium top is definitely the way to go, but they can weigh up to 45 pounds so are not as portable as the foam tops.
I hope this article has provided you the information you need to select a folding poker table top that suits your needs whether as a gift or for yourself. I can assure you that you will never want to go back to playing on a blanket on the kitchen table once you play on one of these. Happy Gaming!