POKER LIFESTYLE

Poker Table Felt Selection Guide

By David Huber
September 29, 2023

A poker table felt can add durability and prestige to your home game. Plus, of course, it is one of the most important considerations that professional card rooms and casinos take into account when updating their poker room hardware.

What is the ideal poker table felt fabric for a regular poker game that runs frequently? Should there be any in-lay printing on the felt to designate where community cards should be placed as well as where each player should stack chips and place bets?

In the guide below, we’ll take a look at the multitude of poker felt table cloth options, custom poker table felt and padding availability, and which materials are easier to clean in a pinch without having to remove the actual felt itself.

different poker felts

Purchasing Poker Felt Rolls from Gaming Supply Stores (DIY Projects)

When performing a quick Google search, one of the first options you’ll see is the ability to purchase poker felt from a casino or gaming supply distributor.

While these options can be extremely high quality, they DO require professional installation over your flat poker table surface – and can instantly become worthless if the individual(s) are not skilled in this specialized upholstery discipline.

Some of the larger distributors may have personnel available (if you’re visiting a storefront in person) to actually cover your poker table with the materials you’ve purchased in a professional manner.

However, cheaper materials will still warp in a short amount of time regardless of how well the covering and accompanying padding is attached to your poker table – especially if the table is left exposed to elements such as sunlight, humidity, or frequent changes in room temperature.

Also note that a DIY poker table felt installation project will require a padding material to be placed underneath the poker felt itself – which is another aspect of the project that demands tools, knowledge, and specialized skill.

Without poker table padding beneath the felt, your poker game will be plagued by an extremely hard surface (if your table is made out of wood) in which nicks and tears will become an issue more quickly.

The Most Common Poker Table Felt Padding Material: Foam

Foam is the most common material used for padding and can be purchased relatively cheaply from a large gaming supply shop. Keep in mind that if your poker table is large in size (able to accommodate six or more players plus a dedicated dealer position), you may need to make a customized request from the retailer in order to fill the dimensions.

Foam can also be used for the actual poker table felt playing surface, but this will likely be sold separately from the padding itself. You’ll also want to decide whether to use foam in any way for rail padding – which again will require quite a bit of specialized skill to install as a DIY project.

The cost of poker table padding foam will run a consumer somewhere between $5 to $10 per square foot (customization will cost extra).

The Most Common Poker Table Rail Material: Vinyl

Vinyl is the most common material used for poker table rail placements, which tend to be oval or circular. In general, vinyl will be sturdier and more resistant to the daily “grind” of poker player forearms, grease, and moisture that surfaces will undoubtedly be exposed to if food and beverages are served at your poker game.

However, vinyl DOES stain and warp over time despite its superior durability relative to other materials such as foam, velvet, cloth, and felt. Vinyl will show its age if left exposed to humidity and sunlight (or changes in room temperature) just like the other materials, and could eventually “peel” in a way that makes card playing uncomfortable for all players involved.

Similar to foam padding, vinyl for use within a poker table rail will cost around $5 to $12 per square foot for non-customized orders.

Poker Table Felt Playing Surface Materials: Cloth

A poker table felt fabric that is commonly used for home games and often comes “installed” in home game tables that are purchased from retailers is cloth.

The terms “cloth” and “felt” can refer to a variety of materials, including (but not limited to) actual felt, suede, velveteen, polyester, and baize. Prefabricated materials will already be included on a poker table that you purchase as a “complete” product.

There are two marketing terms that you may see attached to a poker table felt playing surface when shopping around for the best option: speed and bounce.

Speed usually refers to how easily dealt or mucked cards “glide” to their destination. Bounce can refer to how chips react when making contact with the surface as well as how easily cards, chips, and other poker props can be gripped and controlled by players.

High end “speed cloth” can run consumers hundred of dollars and will require professional installation – combined with below-surface padding – onto a flat surface in order to bring out its true value.

Poker Table Felt Designs

The printing of a poker felt can be equally as important as the material itself.

Should you opt for a design that blends with the theme of card playing? Do you want your poker table felt and padding to be used for other games besides poker? Should you buy a custom poker table felt design that has printing on it to designate where certain cards or players should be placed?

There are a number of poker themed playing surface design that will be offered by major poker supply retailers – ranging from diamond, spades, hearts, and clubs all the way to designs that one could previously only find via the use of “online” poker table themes.

You’ll notice upon visiting a casino that many of the “pit games” have in-lay printing that designates card placements for both dealers and players, while the peer-to-peer poker gaming tables are often uniform in design.

And instead of having dedicated slots for community cards, high end poker tables found at casinos will (more often than not) have their in-house logo printed near the middle of the table’s felt. The logo will usually be printed just above where the face-up community cards in games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha are dealt.

And, of course, on widely watched poker live streams and broadcasts, sponsor logos appear prominently on the table felts, too.

Designating seating arrangements and card placements for poker tables is sometimes frowned upon due to in-person games running at different times, and with different amounts of players seated at any given moment.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a poker felt design is ensuring that the playing surface design is not disruptive. Colors that blend in with poker cards being used (whether face-up or face-down) are typically not a good idea, as the playing surface will distract from the actual card playing.

Light colors can also become a problem as they weather and stain, and it can be much more difficult to “hide” wear and tear that occurs through spillage and/or washing.

Cleaning and Washing Your Poker Table Felt

As a general rule, the finer, more expensive the material that is used for your poker table playing surface, the more careful one will need to be when conducting any cleaning process. Professional poker rooms have this down to a science, with felts regularly being cleaned by experienced staff.

Cheap poker mats and surfaces can be washed vigorously and won’t interrupt an informal game nearly as much as a regular game in which participants expect a higher standard for in-person gameplay quality.

If you’re just playing some microstakes poker among friends and don’t mind an atmosphere that is more casual (or if poker playing isn’t really the centerpiece of your home gaming area), then cheap poker playing surfaces will do just fine.

However, you will want to be extremely careful when cleaning any specialty poker cloth that is used for a professional game. Some chemicals will instantly ruin an expensive playing surface, as will cycle-washing.

For the most part, you will want to solicit tips and advice from poker game and card room managers who are experienced with wiping and cleaning expensive poker felts. It may also be a good idea to “prepare” your high quality poker cloth playing surface by using a stain-resistant spray that comes highly recommended by casino personnel and other home game administrators.

Remember, anything “extreme” such as heat, humidity, temperature changes, moisture, smoke, and grease are an unrelenting enemy to any high quality poker playing surface cloth.

Allow a Pro to Install Your Poker Table Felt

Assuming your poker table felt isn’t already upholstered onto a table that you’re purchasing as a complete product, the best tip for home game hosts is to solicit the labor of a trained professional who can bring out the most in your poker playing surface material.

Any shoddy upholstery work will be exposed and laid bare after only a few sessions of card playing, and it may cost just as much to “fix” the issue as it will to replace the material altogether.

Poker Table Felt Replacement

Replacing a poker table felt that has “run its course” will likewise call for a trained professional installation unless you happen to be a DIY guru equipped with specialized tools, materials, and know-how.

Thanks to the internet, customers have plenty of options to choose from and can source their labor locally in urban areas.

If your poker game is located in a rural area and there are no major supply retailers within a reasonable proximity, you may need to consider the extra cost (and warranty) of transporting poker table cloth materials to your residence or game room.

Again, leaving a poker table or its source materials exposed to the elements is not a good idea, even if you’re only planning to transport it to and from a location in close proximity. Moving services will have special tarps and covers to protect you poker table and cloth materials while it is being transported for installation or repair.

The Best Poker Table Felt Available

Foam, velveteen and micro suede are highly marketed as the absolute best poker table felt and padding materials for both the playing surface and underlay.

Regular poker players will immediately notice if you are using a poker table with top-notch materials, and will likewise instantly become aware if the playing surface is far inferior to what one might expect when playing in a professional card room.

Due to these materials being relatively common and not directly tied into any software, there is little to no regulation that exists on purchases of even the finest poker table felt materials. Theoretically, one could spend thousands of dollars on a single poker table playing surface and padding depending on the actual materials and where they are sourced from.

A high quality poker table playing surface will add life and durability to any home poker game and impress players regardless of which poker variant is being played.

Make sure you solicit feedback from experienced card room managers before you buy, choose a design that blends in well with your own gaming area, and hire a professional to upholster your poker table to ensure you get the most out of the playing surface, padding, and rail materials that you buy.

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David Huber poker author
Written By.

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for close to two decades: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as “dhubermex” online, David’s poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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