September 21, 2023

One of the most appealing aspects of home improvement is the possibility of creating a room with the sole purpose of entertaining. And in that regard, there are few spaces that offer people a better opportunity to relax and have a fun time with friends than a poker room. A properly designed poker room should keep players comfortable for hours, and help them enjoy every aspect of the game, from admiring and handling a nice set of chips, to sipping the perfect cocktail while laying down cards.

As is the case with putting together any new room, setting up that perfect atmosphere takes time and effort. But to get started building your perfect home poker room, there are a few things you’ll need first.

Ambient Lighting

When people think about poker games at home, they tend to picture poorly lit, den-like rooms. The truth of the matter though is that this can negatively impact the poker experience, if for no other reason than it makes it harder to see the cards! The recommended brightness for reading, in general, is 50 lumens, meaning this is about the minimum brightness you’d want in order for people to comfortably identify cards. Furthermore, those 50 lumens need to be focused on the reading (or in this case playing) area to be adequate. Some of those dusky poker dens do make for nice photos, but we suspect some of them aren’t matching these requirements!

Rooms also tend to look most inviting with warm (yellowish/reddish) light –– though given that preferences might change, or you might want to set a particular mood with certain guests, you might also consider installing smart LED lights with adjustable color and brightness. And for a more elegant touch, you can also consider adding a classic stained glass poker lamp above the table (which would allow you to set a dimmer ambiance in the rest of the room, if you like).

Comfortable and Elegant Chairs

People can spend several hours playing during any given poker night. As such, they need chairs that will provide comfort, and promote a healthy posture. This doesn’t mean you should splash out on four reclining chairs for your poker room though; it’ll be expensive and they’re not practical for pulling up to a table. With this in mind, it’s clear that a great gaming chair can be a suitable solution. These chairs tend to be comfortable and adjustable, and are specifically designed to support long sitting sessions.

That said, if you’re aiming for a more traditional (or just “classy”) poker room, the typical shapes and colors of gaming chairs may not match the aesthetic. If that’s the case, we recommend stocking up on a few office chairs with full support for the back as well as armrests.

Then again, if you can spare the cost, a set of cushioned wooden armchairs with wheels will make your room look even better.

A Real Poker Table

A poker table is undoubtedly the most important piece of furniture you will install in the room. However, before making a decision or purchase, it’s important to identify the different types of poker tables available depending on your budget. It’s easy enough to get started with a simple folding table or a poker table top for any old table, if you just want to get a game going. Similarly, a convertible poker table makes for a nice combination of functionality and practicality (in that it can be used both for poker and for other purposes.

If you’re really looking to establish a poker room, however, and you’re willing to invest in the effort, there’s nothing better than a custom-made table. In this case, it’s important to choose the right level of cushioning for the edges, whether you want glass holders, and what quality of felt is in play (with better felt helping the cards slide along). It’s also important to consider that some tables are made with markings supporting specific types of poker –– so you’ll need to determine how much you want to tie the room to one such type.

A good custom table will typically cost about $2,000 minimum, with ultra-high-end pieces costing as much as $10,000.

A Stylish Rug

Poker rooms should make the player feel like they are entering an elegant but cozy space: not quite a luxurious casino, but also not an informal home theater or basement game room at a friend’s house. One great way to bring about this feeling (and reduce noise) is to place a rug under the table and chairs.

A high-pile rug –– which is to say one taller than one-quarter inch –– can make a space look warm and stylish in and of itself, meaning that even adding one with darker colors should suffice. That said, you can also get as creative as you like, and potentially add poker-themed patterns (like card suits or poker chip designs) to a custom rug, if you want to establish a theme.

Poker Display

When you’re setting up your poker room, you might start with simple chip boxes and sets of cards. But as time passes (or you refine the space), there may be a temptation to upgrade. And rest assured there are plenty of more high-end options, from a Ralph Lauren walnut wood box containing dealer buttons and cards, to an Aerin Shagreen set of embossed poker chips. Some sets even come with elegant glasses and cigar holders for more traditional (or perhaps “old-school”) players to enjoy.

Whatever the case, displaying some of this equipment can add a nice touch to the room. A shelf with glass doors can be used to store and showcase accessories simultaneously.

Unique Decorations

Finally, placing the right pieces of art or collectibles around your poker room can do a lot to make the space feel authentic and inviting. Some fun options to consider are framed movie posters from films that revolve around poker (like Rounders or The Sting), or even prints of scenes associated with the game, like the famous poker sequence in Casino Royale. You can also add collectibles, like a poker chip from a defunct casino (these are occasionally made available), a first edition of David Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker,” or even a signed picture of a famous poker player like Daniel Negreanu or Doyle Brunson to draw inspiration from. Really, this part is all about your own taste!

Setting up a poker room makes for a fun home improvement project, but choosing the furniture, accessories, and decorations shouldn’t be taken lightly. Put a bit of thought into the type of design you have in mind and the sort of experience you want to offer though, and you’ll be on your way to a great home addition –– and a new excuse to host friends.

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