Whilst a folding card table could be designed in any shape (square, circular, oval, hexagonal or octagonal) traditionally they are square shaped. This shape is very convenient for games where there is a fixed at number of players. For example, there are always four players for the games of auction bridge or whist. Similarly, there are always two players in a game of bezique or piquet. Having a square table allows the different pairs (or players in the case of two-handed games) to sit facing each other in such a way that there is no chance of another player’s cards being seen.
A typical square folding card table would be around three feet square as this size allows a decent playing area whilst at the same time keeping the folded table small enough to be easily stored when not in use. It will be designed so that only a minimum of floor space will be taken up when the table is not in use.
A round or oval shaped table would be better for those card games that are played without a fixed number of players; rummy and canasta are in this category. Round tables are far more common than their oval counterparts if only because it is a simpler matter to design and construct a round folding card table than an oval one.
Other shapes (hexagonal, octagonal, etc.) are seen only occasionally.
Whatever the shape, the covering of the playing area of the table will need to be non reflective (so as not to reveal cards during the dealing process), need to be non slip (to keep cards from skidding around whilst being dealt) and need to allow the easy picking up of dealt cards. In practice, these properties are provided by fixing a baize covering to the surface of the table. This covering will normally be colored green, although blue baize is often used. The more sophisticated tables will not have their tops completely covered in baize. An area of wood will be left uncovered for each player to use for drinks, without the problem of staining the baize, which, being fixed to the surface of the table, would be difficult to clean.
Folding card tables are made of a lightweight material (typically wood or aluminum) in order to allow ease of carrying from storage to place of use and vice versa. Lightness of construction also simplifies the setting up and taking down of the table before and after use.
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