A foldable poker table can turn a casual party into a poker scene while providing specialized entertainment for hosts and guests alike.
Whether you’re personally in the market for a budget-friendly foldable poker mat or wish to go “all out” and splurge on a professional poker table that will cost thousands of dollars, our aim in this article is to provide you with a wide range of options for foldable poker tables that will function for every poker occasion.
Foldable Poker Table Top: Pros, Cons, Tips, and Options
A foldable poker table top mat is one of the easiest and most budget-minded ways to bring the excitement of a poker game to almost any venue.
The main benefit of a poker mat, aside from its price relative to other options, is that it is easily portable. A poker table top cloth or mat takes up very little space when unused, and can be conveniently rolled out for any poker occasion.
Depending on the material, a poker mat could also potentially be washable (be sure to check ahead of time which detergents or cleaners work with the specific material).
However, there are a few drawbacks to a poker mat or cloth. For one, the material is seldom durable and will likely show physical marks of repeated cycle-washing. Stains can sometimes become permanent on certain material – even after washing – and the act of cleaning such materials in and of itself comes with wear and tear. The above-pictured BBO Portable Poker Party Mat is thus a major exception and provides excellent high-quality value, as it’s got non-slip rubber backing, a sleek foam playing surface, and is machine washable.
As far as tips go, a foldable poker table top mat or cloth is a very convenient option for any one-off poker event that a host intends to provide. And of course, the cloth or mat can be placed over just about any flat surface.
Most budget poker table cloths that you’ll find on the retail market are tailor made for a maximum of four players. This means that if you’re looking to create a poker environment in a pinch, you’ll need to shop around ahead of time if your aim is to host a poker game with more than four players involved at any given time.
The best place to find generic poker table mats is at a specialty store that sells novelty items for in-person gaming. You might be able to find this product at a retail department store (or even general store like Walmart, depending on your geographical location), but a quick online search will most likely give you the largest amount of options.
A quality poker table top cloth or mat will set you back between $20-$50 on the lower end while a more high quality (or larger) product can go for over $100.
An actual table top (with cloth already in place) can be custom made for some home gaming situations, but will likely cost hundreds of dollars and may require you to shop around for a customized product. Again, this option will likely provide space for a maximum of four individuals at one time and is geared towards home games in which each of the players rotate the role of dealer.
Poker Tables and Ninety Degree Angles or Edges
As explained above, the most redeeming qualities of a portable poker table cloth, mat, or covering are its convenience, pricing, and portability. But once we get into an actual poker table “hardware” discussion, there’s one cardinal rule that you should keep in mind if you ever intend to host a more formal game that includes a dedicated table position for a dealer.
Ninety degree angles on a poker table are NOT your friend!
Some first-time poker table shoppers may be unaware of why 90° angles don’t work very well for in-person poker games. This may be due to how “well” a square or rectangle table functions for other multiplayer card or tile games like bridge and dominoes.
The necessity of a dedicated seating position for the dealer; one who is not participating in the competitive element of the game itself, makes all the difference for a poker table. Poker table hexagons (60° edges) and octagons (45° edges) don’t really work well either – even though many household gaming tabletops are built with six or eight sides.
Any live poker game that requires more than four seating positions total will benefit greatly from the standard “elongated oval” shape that provides for a deal seat complete with a chip well and drop slot. This is the shape you will see at just about every professional poker table in games that are held at high quality card rooms and/or live streamed on sites like YouTube and Twitch.
Foldable Poker Tables: Benefits and Drawbacks
Now that we’ve explained why an oval-shaped surface is best for live poker games, we can look at the pros and cons of foldable poker tables.
In general, you want a sturdy table (as opposed to a flimsy one) to serve as the main prop of your poker home game.
A table that cannot withstand the combined physical weight of cards, poker chips, refreshments, card protectors, forearms, elbows, cups, dishes, and other live poker props will immediately make its poor quality apparent.
If you’re shopping for the best foldable poker table online, make sure you are aware of the dimensions and most importantly, the material from which the table is made.
Are the table’s legs built to support a certain amount of weight? If so, how much? Do the table’s legs appear to be “skinny” when compared to the playing surface? Are the table’s legs crafted with rubber stoppers, metal platforms, or made entirely of wood? Does the table appear to sacrifice practicality due to its “artisan” build or shape?
Does the playing surface fold-away for easy storage? How difficult will it be for you to regularly relocate the table from storage into your personal gaming area? Are there any online reviews for the table that you are considering buying?
These are all questions that you should be asking yourself while shopping for a foldable poker table. One’s storage and gaming areas (in terms of square feet) may play a determining factor in which poker table is best for you.
Of course, the higher quality foldable poker table you purchase, the more expensive it will probably be – and the price for a sturdy, reliable, large poker table can range as high as — or even higher than! — $1,000 depending on the brand and supplier.
It also should go without saying that if you’re going to pay a considerable amount of money for a high quality foldable poker table, it should be able to withstand the everyday “grind” that comes with any poker game – especially one in which more than four players are competing at once. You’ll want as much room as possible for each player, as well as enough space for the dealer to work comfortably without having to intermingle “house” chips and shuffle area with the players’ action.
Permanent Poker Tables
A permanent poker table will likely cost the buyer well over $1,000 – with the highest quality poker tables on the market going in excess of $5,000.
Unless you’re running a casino, professional card room, or regular home game, you might be better off shopping around for less expensive (yet more practical for occasional poker events) tables.
A fixed, permanent poker table is something the host will have to “live with” and might require some hardware and labor to both install or move.
If you’re running a home game and looking to buy a foldable poker table, then a “permanent” table will not be the answer. As a rule, permanent poker tables aren’t foldable.
Poker Tables and the Elements
Even the highest quality poker tables you can buy will suffer greatly if left exposed to outdoor weather conditions. The everyday wear and tear that a poker table will need to endure is more than enough to degrade its quality over time, but outdoor weather conditions will pretty much quickly ruin any material that is not specifically formed to withstand rain, sleet, snow, hail, and so on.
In other words, don’t leave poker tables exposed to outdoor weather unless you want to take the risk of severely reducing its quality for subsequent games. Precipitation is the most obvious danger to an outdoor poker table’s ability to endure, but wind, barometric pressure, and any moisture can be just as damaging in terms of warping surfaces.
A “patio-friendly” poker table will purposely be made out of material that will not be so negatively (or immediately) impacted by bad weather, but will likely suffer in other ways due to the material that must be used for its playing surface and legs.
Building Your Own DIY Foldable Poker Table
Are you competent in basic math and geometry? Do you own the appropriate hardware to build your own poker table? Are you precise with measurements and skilled in handiwork? If you answered “yes” to these three questions, then a DIY foldable poker table might be a unique (but admittedly laborious) project to commence.
Not to be discouraging, but Do It Yourself poker table projects are something that should probably be left to professionals or individuals who have extensive workshop experience.
As you might imagine, it takes more than just a hammer, some nails, and a tape measure to build your very own poker table. As a matter of fact, here’s a simple experiment that any novice can attempt before trying to actually build a DIY foldable poker table.
- Obtain a cheap wooden, plastic, or metal surface that is between 1 to 2 square feet in total area
- Use a permanent marker to draw a “cut out” shape or two within that surface
- The cut out shapes should consume no more than 15% total of the surface area you’re practicing on – and will not be covered by any material when conducting your DIY experiment
- Get some cheap construction paper and common adhesive
- Cover your practice surface with construction paper
After your practice surface is covered, evaluate whether you could play a game of Jenga or comfortably put together a few jigsaw pieces on that surface. If your handiwork is not able to pass this simple test (due to lumps, uneven coverage, and/or faulty mathematical calculations), then you might want to pass on building your own poker table. A DIY poker table that folds will also require things like “hinges” and the sort, which is another discipline that not every individual is a master at.
A good (albeit discouraging) resource for DIY “noobs” might be watching a YouTube channel that uploads DIY content that includes table builds. You’ll quickly notice that most of these pros already possess thousands of dollars in workshop equipment to accommodate every DIY stage from initial measurements to final polishing.
While we’re on the topic, we can’t help but also include our favorite poker table build video, courtesy of Adam Savage (of MythBusters fame).
What’s the Best Foldable Poker Table for You?
If you’re new to the game, have just learned how to play poker, and are shopping around for a one-off poker experience and want to keep the purchasing process as simplified and practical as possible, then you really can’t go wrong with a poker table top mat or cloth. These come “premade” and can be easily stored when not in use.
A more regular home game will probably require an actual poker table with legs, and enough room to seat the expected number of players comfortably while also considering a separate seating space for a dealer.
Whether your venue is more suited for a casual poker game at a party or a daily home game with regular players, the playing surface is one of the most fundamental elements to any poker playing experience.
Shop around and explore your options more meticulously if you’re looking to buy a high quality poker table. Solicit feedback from known customers as well as from poker home game hosts to get a better idea about which poker tables are preferred, and enjoy your poker playing experience after making your first foldable poker table purchase!