So, you’ve decided to host a home game, now you need a table to play on. Playing at the kitchen table is fine for a family game night, but a serious home game needs a real poker table. Fortunately, there are many options in many price ranges to take your game to the next level.
Option 1: Buy New
The company ProCaliber Poker has 4 different poker table options, all of which allow for a great deal of customization. You can get a smaller, round table for 6 players, or several different styles of oval tables, with or without an area for a dealer. Colors, racetracks, cup holders, leg styles, and extras like an automatic shuffler are all customizable. These tables start at $525 and range upward to around $2000 if you add every bell and whistle, so the price range is pretty wide.
For a less expensive option, you can always type “poker tables” into Amazon.com and see a number of options, usually around the $200 mark. These tables are usually felted but not padded. We have a table like this as our second table in my home game, for the occasions where enough people show up to warrant a second table. (My primary table is big – we squeeze up to 10 on it, and then the 11th person forces the game into two short-handed 5-max and a 6-max games. This fortunately doesn’t happen very often in my game). Before our home game, we used this table for the neighborhood Friday night game, which features .25 cent antes and more wild-card style games than anything else. That game transformed into the home game when a few of us decided to get more serious about Texas Holdem and other “real” poker games.
You can also go the “table top” option as a less-expensive way to get a decent poker experience. These folding tops usually fit over a round or oval kitchen or dining room table. This is one of the cheapest ways available to get your players “on the felt”.
Option 2: Buy Used
If you don’t mind a used table, make sure to search all the Craigslist and Ebay type sites. A poker table is a common thing that gets used for a while and then discarded when interest in the game wanes. You can find high end tables for a tiny price if you’re not in a great hurry and keep your eyes open.
Option 3: Build
Building a nice poker table is surprisingly easy. As someone with ZERO handyman/woodworking ability, you should believe that if I can successfully build a poker table (with a friend’s help), then anybody can.
The online original plans for building a poker table are found here. This incredibly detailed site contains technical drawings, materials lists, and step-by-step instructions with photos.
Someone named Scott Keen took the instructions from the site above and used them to build his own table. He also documented the process and included instructions and photos on his web site, found here. His site also contains a forums section that allowed many would-be builders to ask questions and share tips on some of the finer points of construction. From these two links, you should be able to find several more people who also completed the same project.
For me, the hardest part of building the table was the saw-cutting – a skill in which I have very little experience. The project calls for cutting out several oval shapes out of 4×8 foot pieces of plywood. I enlisted a neighbor and fellow poker player to help with this part of the project (ok, he did all the cutting). He also assisted in some of the tasks that were much better done with two people – including pulling the vinyl railing tight around the wood and padding base and stapling it down (probably the most time-intensive part of the project). I handled most of the sanding and applying the polyurethane coat to the racetrack portion of the table. My advice on this step is to take your time – my instructions called for waiting several hours between coats. I chose to apply two coats per day, one in the morning and one at night. I also applied a few more coats than recommended, just in case. The wood racetrack is the part of the table I like the best – to me, it really makes the table feel more like a piece of real furniture:
Here are a few photos of my table, both in construction and the near final product. We did go back and add a money box with a bill slot a few weeks after these pictures were taken – another “final touch” that’s also practical and helps me keep the bank without having to move off my spot.
As you can see, there are numerous options to acquire poker table for your home game – at a variety of costs and levels of quality. You should have no trouble finding an option that gives your home game that more authentic feeling.