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How To Build a Temporary Poker Table

This page describes how to alter a dining room or banquet (folding-leg) table for use as a poker table. For instructions on how to build a more professional-grade poker table, go to my Build a Table page. Poker table supplies and accessories can be found on my Table Supplies page.

Most poker tables are 29-30" high and 40-42" wide. Lengths vary from 72-110". Keep in mind that it is very difficult for a player seated at one end of the table to deal to players at the other end of the table and it is even more difficult to maneuver chips into the pot. For these reasons a dedicated dealer, or dealer/player, usually sits in the middle of a rectangular or oval poker table.

Each player will take up approximately two feet of table frontage. A poker table that is 8' long and 46" wide can accommodate 4 players along each length and another 2 players at each end.

Scott's Poker
Table Talk Forum

A discussion forum
for building poker tables

You should allot at least two feet of floor space for each person sitting at the table. Using an 8'x4' table, count on least 4'+2'+2'=8 feet of width and 8'+2'+2'=12 feet of floor space needed for seating the players. This will leave almost no remaining space for getting up from the table and walking past sitting players.

The easiest way to set up or build a homemade poker table is to obtain a wood or plastic banquet table with folding legs. A 3' x 6’ table is good for eight players with three players seated on each side and one player at each end. You can also squeeze 10 players at this size table if you must. Use a longer table if you usually have more than eight players or if you have a dedicated non-playing dealer. The tabletop (wood, plastic, old, scarred) doesn't matter too much since it will be covered with padding and felt but you might consider adding a sheet of plywood if the table is too warped or fragile. The table and legs should be as sturdy as possible since you're probably going to have up to ten beer-bellied poker players leaning on, and sometimes pounding, that poor old table.

Go to the 'tablecloth' section of a local department store and buy table padding to place on top of your table. The padding makes it easier to lift the cards off the table and the plastic helps to guard against spills. Stretch the padding over the table, plastic side up, leaving no wrinkles, and tape/tack/staple it down underneath. You could also use carpet padding or closed-cell foam (highly recommended) instead of the table padding.

Contact local billiard shops or pool halls looking for a used 4’ x 8’ billiard felt. In my area, there were several shops willing to sell these for under $50. A new piece of billiard felt costs in the range of $100. Mali is the best at about $10/foot, Arcade is about $8/foot. Super high quality billiard felt runs about $20-30/foot and has a different feel to it than other felts, so stay away from it. Here is a link to various types of billiard cloth. Felt bought at a fabric store does not work well, it bunches up and sheds lint, stay away from it. Some people find that denim, velveteen, or a car headliner also work well. Official poker cloth works best. Whichever material you choose, stretch it over the table padding, leaving no wrinkles, and tape/tack/staple it down underneath. I don't bother to protect (Scotch-guard) my felt because I replace it every couple years. I do, however, insist on using beer coolers to help keep moisture off the table.

$  75 Banquet table with folding legs
10Table padding
    50Used 4' x 8' billiard table felt
$135Total cost

You can reduce the $135 cost to almost nothing if you already have a dining room table and padding and are lucky enough to find a friend who has replaced his billiard table felt. If you must, you can also use any old tablecloth, sometimes it helps to turn them over and use the underside.

If you want to add rails to your table, buy some swimming pool noodles or pipe insulation, slice 'em down the middle like a hotdog bun and staple or tape them down. For a more traditional rail, you can build a removable railing using wood, foam padding, and vinyl. If you want to get real fancy, you can cut holes in the table to drop in drink holders.

You might consider making a portable poker tabletop. Simply buy a sheet of 4' x 8' plywood, staple down the padding and felt and you're done! On poker night, place your portable tabletop on top of your dining room table and you're ready to play! You can store your tabletop in the basement or garage, but keep on guard against warping of the wood. Octagon tables or tabletops might be large enough for your game, but any more than six players will probably be too crowded. You can also buy a poker layout to place on an existing table.

 

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