Increasingly, our homes are multi-tasking. They’re becoming our offices (whether out of hours, or for many of us, now at least semi-permanently), and our entertainment venues as well being the place we eat, sleep and spend time with family. A classy way to overhaul some spare space would be to turn it into a poker lounge, which provides a strong theme for entertaining friends at the table and beyond.
If we’re tempted to think about card rooms as being smoky dens in the backrooms of bars, or the blistering lights of Vegas or Macau, then we might be tempted to run a mile from the idea. Thankfully, the modern poker room is a place for relieving stress rather than causing it, and neutral tones work fantastically well. A modern card room should incorporate technology – it could be argued that over the pandemic, poker has become a primarily online pursuit – which will enable the space to work beyond the table.
Consider leaving a wall blank to provide a canvas for a projector, enabling sports to be watched after (or during) a game – it’ll work very well for movie nights, too. Likewise, smart speaker systems, such as those by Sonos, Bose or Amazon Echo can be moved around the room to adjust to dynamic sound or background music being more desirable.
If we think about the focal point to a home social area, it’s usually the table – think about the amount of family life conducted in the kitchen. For a poker room, while it might be nice to have a dedicated poker table, they’re expensive and can take up space that may be at a premium. They’re also not useful for much else – when the poker game’s over and you want to watch the football game, don’t be surprised if you get yelled at by the host for putting a drink down onto the felt. A felt or rubber topper for an existing or planned purchase table may be a wiser investment. They come in oval, rectangular and octagonal layouts for whichever table fits best in the space.
Additionally, many of the best toppers you can buy are optimized for playing Texas Hold’em, which is the variety most players will default to anyway. In Hold’em, each player is dealt two cards and five community cards are laid out over the course of each round. Accordingly, the best toppers are often designed so that there are painted spaces for all of these cards to be dealt to.
If a topper is less expensive than a dedicated table, that should leave space in a budget to go bigger on the things that’ll make the room really special. A beer fridge and bar area means not having to break the spell of the game going to the kitchen for drinks. Higher quality chips and fully plastic cards add way more of a touch of class than their cardboard or plastic counterparts.
There’s no hard and fast rule for seating at a poker table, so consider ottomans or comfy storage stools where game components can be stored when not in use. Decor-wise, the Dogs Playing Poker print will always be fun, and cacti on a window sill make a low-maintenance nod to the deserts around Las Vegas.
Lighting can really make or break a card room. In the home setting, we’re looking to create a relaxed environment for socializing versus a pressure cooker for gambling high stakes; so dimmer switches are an essential. However there should be lighting on focal points – the center of the table where the community cards everyone shares should be well lit – perhaps with a larger pendant light or chandelier. While the spaces above each player shouldn’t be too bright in order they can keep their own cards turned down from potentially prying eyes. Track lighting may be useful above seated positions.
It may also be an idea to have a statement light at the entry to the room to cement the impression you’re moving away from the general hubbub of the rest of the house. With poker having a generally ‘proper’ and old-school, dressed-up vibe, one of our Steampunk lamp Galileo works really well, as it is made from wood and brass, adding a touch of craftsmanship and luxury without being overly ostentatious.