This DIY Poker Table Uses RGB LEDs to Dictate the Flow of the Game
Driven by a desire to have a smarter, more interactive table for hosting Ultimate Poker League (UPL) games, one Redditor known who goes by u/tatey13 decided to build exactly that. Poker is a relatively simple game that involves plenty of strategy and luck, and its use of dealing and betting/bluffing mechanics makes it an ideal game to implement into a fun project.
The table itself was created from a old preexisting dining room table that was still in decent condition. After the varnish had been stripped off the top, a large oval was cut in the center, along with several large holes for metal vessels and an accompanying button at each player's spot.
A long strip of densely-packed LEDs was glued along the inside for both information about the game and a pleasant ambience when the table is just sitting around. Finally, a wooden surface was tacked on the underside and covered with a fine velvet fabric to bring in some additional luxury.
In order to track the current game's state, time players, and control the LEDs, an Arduino Mega 2560 was selected due to its large amount of flash storage and abundance of GPIO pins.
The microcontroller, along with a 5V power supply, was tucked into one of the table's legs. Wires were then run from each button's switch and LED circuit to the Mega.
As one can probably imagine, programming an entire poker game that supports up to eight players is no easy task, and that is compounded even further by the memory and storage constraints of a microcontroller. However, u/tatey13 was able to make it work, and the features he implemented are quite impressive.
Before the game even starts, the lights slowly pulse in a cyclical rainbow pattern around the table. Once everyone is ready, a button is pressed that gives all players 20 seconds to select which seat they are in to let the program know who is playing at each spot.
The dealer is randomly selected and their position is signified by the light at their seat turning white. Because the variety of poker being played is Texas hold 'em, the player to the dealer's immediate left is designated as the "small blind" and the one next to them is the "big blind" (you can read more about that mechanic here).
To go out, a player holds down their button for a few seconds, at which point their lights will flash red and then go dark for the remainder of the game.
If someone ends up taking too long, a player is able to press their button to request a timer, and if the dealer accepts the request, a timer begins to count down, although each player gets three chances to add additional time if they need.
Once everyone has gone out except for a single remaining player, the game is considered over and the table light up their spot in green to signify a win.
As seen in tatey13's demonstration video, the poker table he was able to build is a great example of how a few components and some clever engineering can come together for an incredible result.
In the future, he plans on adding some extra features to make playing the game even better, such as a built-in card shuffler.