A Quick Guide to Table Stakes in Business

by / ⠀Funding / April 6, 2023
A Quick Guide to Table Stakes in Business

Perhaps in your time as an entrepreneur, you have come across the term “table stakes”. Have you wondered what that meant? Well, this article will do just that for you! Read this quick guide to the meaning of table stakes in the business and you can then use the term yourself!

What Are Table Stakes?

Table stakes focus on one key factor regarding branding. Which is, meeting just the bare minimum for customer expectations. This term comes from the game of poker. Because table stakes are the bare minimum to be considered a player. The same can be said in the business world.

So, what are table stakes when it comes to business? Table stakes refer to the base offering on some part of a product before it is possibly bought by a customer.

For example, press-to-start cars are now table stakes to compete in car markets. At one point it was considered a luxury. Now, some people who seek to buy a car will not consider it without having a press-to-start button.

Table stakes have so many examples that it becomes a common thing throughout the various markets and industries out there. For some, it could be the maximum price, a service time, or the special feature of a product.

It can also be noted that parts of your product can be table stakes while other aspects may be regarding branding to make your product more appropriate. In time, almost any factor to a product and service becomes table stakes.

Table stakes can also take on slightly different meanings. For example, it can be used as a shorthand for the base offering when working out products and/or services. Some people interchange table stakes with other terms such as “points of parity” or “cost of entry”.

That is why it is important to have great table stakes. If not, then you will see your brand fall because it’s worse than the table stakes of that specific market. An example of this would be a movie theater with poor screens. If you can’t maintain the most basic parts of the business, why are you there?

Table Stakes in Business

The Different Types

Table stakes meanings come in many forms in the business world. Many overlap with one another. However, one can find key factors that separate them from the rest of the market.

Some table stakes include:

  • Maximum or Minimum Price
  • Technology Used
  • Delivery Time
  • Warranties
  • Terms Regarding Payment
  • ¬†How it Works with Other Products
  • And More

If you have a product or service, don’t feel boxed in with just these examples. Depending on your industry, you could have niche table stakes that put you above the rest of the competition.

Synonyms of Table Stakes

As stated earlier in the article, table stakes have several interchangeable meanings. However, their meaning remains the same even if there are a couple of slight differences.

Besides “points of parity” and “cost of entry” there are also:

  • Fundamental Expectations
  • Setting the Bar

Table Stakes and Differentiators

When it comes to table stakes, there are parts of the product where you need to be at the base level to meet expectations for the customer. There is never a large benefit to either you or the customers for making it bigger and better.

However, there are such things as differentiators that customers will pay attention to if your brand has a way better offering.

For example, a computer with a lot of storage capabilities is table stakes for those in the professional business. They need its storage to be good enough for those interested to get on with their day. People searching for these laptops are not interested in having a lot of storage space, they probably want something lighter or have huge changes that make it different from the rest.

When it comes to differentiators, they need to be bold because that should be the main focus of the advertisement for the product. Table stakes don’t need to be mentioned in the advertisement. Show off what makes your product or service special!


Table stakes should always be on the table when you are meeting customer expectations. It is key to success, but not the focus. As long as the business does not cut corners on it or let it slip, there should be little to no problems.

A good brand builder knows when and what is best for the company regarding table stakes because there is a certain ecology to the competitors and the customers. You want to be the apex predator of that ecosystem.

When it comes to table stakes, successful brands often meet or exceed in those areas, but what really makes them work is going up and beyond in things that customers care about.

About The Author

Tristan Anderson

Hello! My name is Tristan Anderson and I live in Manhattan, Kansas. I enjoy being in nature and animals. I am also a huge geek who loves Star Wars and has a growing collection.