One of the best things about budget van life is the level of customization you have on your campervan. This includes customizing your van with a portable poker table, if you love a good card game.
But fitting your van with a quality portable poker table isn’t completely straightforward. For instance, how do you get people around the whole table if one side is hinged to your van’s wall? Or how do you keep a silky smooth finish on your table top, when a table needs to be multi-purpose in a van?
Fear not! If you get creative, there are plenty of options for poker tables in vans. Here are three ideas for poker lovers wishing to indulge in their favorite game while traveling around the country in their van!
Qualities of a Good Portable Poker Table
Whether you’re buying a poker table for your house or campervan, a good poker table is going to have the same qualities. These include:
- Round or four-sided top so people can sit around the whole table
- Sturdy base and top for resting arms, drinks, snacks or ashtrays on
- Slick surface so cards can easily slide across the table
All of these qualities become a lot more difficult to execute on from inside a campervan. Round tables require lots of space to sit around, a sturdy base is harder to master if your table has portable, collapsible pieces, and a slick surface can get dented or nicked when it will be multi-purpose.
But let’s consider the different types of poker table options for a van…
3 Best Portable Tables for Poker
There are a handful of portable table designs that make the best options for playing poker in (or around) a campervan. These include:
- Bench seat table
- Swivel arm table
- Fold away table
All of these tables allow card players to sit around the whole table. They also offer sturdy bases and the ability to tuck the table away when not in use.
1. Bench Seat Table
A bench seat table is essentially a table that “pops” up from the center of your campervan bed, creating a table and benches on either side of it.
Also known as a bench-to-bed conversion, this is a popular campervan design. It’s also a bit more difficult to make because it requires a lot of supplies and tools, woodworking skills, and a knack for designing in small spaces.
You’ll need a table leg and leg mounts to secure the table to the campervan’s floor and the tabletop. You’ll need lumber to make the benches and hinges to use for the lids of the benches (if you want the benches to also be used for storage space).
The bench seat table is a prime option for using as a portable poker table because it will provide the largest surface area and table top of any style table, while still fitting in a van. And not only that, it comes with already built-in benches, so each player already has a chair ready to go. And the most impressive part is that this all still fits in your van!
The downsides are that it’s a lot of work to build, and it means you have to convert your bed into the table setup every time you want to use it. As someone with a bench-to-bed-conversion in my own van, I can tell you that switching between the two modes gets really frustrating, really quickly.
But if you think it’s the design for you, check out these very thorough online instructions for building your own bench seat table in a campervan.
2. Swivel Arm Table
The swivel arm table design looks similar to the bench seat table design. The difference lies in the positioning of the table’s leg and mount, as well as the bespoke qualities of the swivel arm table.
Typically, a swivel arm table is mounted to the side of your van’s interior wall or bench. A popular choice is mounting it at the center of your campervan bed, so (similar to the bench seat table) it “pops” up to create a table and benches.
But where this table goes one step further is how it can swivel and adjust its height to incredibly custom levels. This makes it extra handy for any type of activity beyond playing poker.
The downside is that it’s not going to provide as big of a table top surface area, which may reduce the number of players you can have at the table. And although the leg mount is sturdy, it will have swiveling “joints” which makes it more susceptible to breaking or bending.
A really popular (and expensive) swivel table mount is the Lagun adjustable swiveling table mount. Not only can you adjust the height and positioning of the table, but you can also adjust the angle of the table top.
3. Fold Away Table
I’ll admit, the fold away table is almost a cop-out of a table option for poker. It’s really just a simple, foldable camping table!
But isn’t there something so beautiful about an inexpensive, easy to setup and put away camping table? It’s what I use all the time, and knowing it only cost me $20 allows me to use it for everything my heart desires without worrying I’ll ding it up. (Here’s a more lightweight version of my camping table).
The plus side to this table for poker is that you can use it inside or outside of your van, choose a large table top size if needed, and easily store away when not in use.
But while a good poker table may not be painted up like a casino, it should at least have a nice, glossy finish so cards can slide across easily.
Since most inexpensive fold away camping tables are made of plastic or metal, it will be hard to get a nice, glossy finish on your tabletop.
There’s an easy solution to that, though…invest in a poker topper!
Poker Topper for Portable Tables
A poker topper is a great alternative, since us plebeians may not have the funds to buy a poker table for our house or camper van.
Poker toppers come in all shapes and sizes, including round or rectangular shapes. Simply find the poker topper that fits your portable table best, and then you don’t need to worry about a glossy finish table top or dinging up your table.
The downside to poker toppers in a camper van is that they take up extra storage space. But there’s good news…you can opt for a super simple, felt material poker topper (which is also a lot cheaper than the hard-surface ones).
Playing Poker in Your Campervan
You can be the cool van with a unique poker setup. Even though installing a poker table in your small van is not easy, and the dimensions of a van make a game of poker with six people quite tough.
But if you’re into small games and want poker on the road, try your hand (pun intended) at creating your own portable poker table!