If your cash is super-low you should get one of those re-usable canvas shopping bags with the tough plastic inserts. The PC mag that I read said they (the plastic inserts), are actually quite good because of the ribbed surface and low reflectivity. It's probably a band-aid fix more than anything though.
I bought some Demin material, a square yard, and taped it to the desk top, Massive surface, good texture, just throw it in washer when needed. On another machine I'm using a really cool placemat, about 2x3 foot in size. Both have been much better than any mouse pad I've ever bought!
I bought a "Func Industries 1030 Gaming Surface, Archetype Mouse Pad 11.25X9IN, Black Surface, Sheet Black Base" 4 months ago and love it. It's the only elite pad I've tried so I can't comment on other ones.
I need my mousing surface to provide great accuracy and consistency for my games.
I'm so dissapointed in the fUnc 1030 I just received. The tracking is poor (jitter from my Razor Copperhead) possibly due to transparent looking layers in the surface. Also I can feel it twisting since it sits on feet (5 of them). Also, there is more friction and also a higher friction barrier than I had anticipated.
I just re-ordered an ultra thin $5.99 mousepad I got from Wal-Mart a while back by HandStands. It lays completely flat (just a few millimeters thick), with a rubbery sticky backing surface, and tracks perfectly (no jitter). Also it's almost frictionless against my Razor Copperhead (I can blow on the mouse lightly and it will move, and there's almost NO friction barrier). If there's anything to be said about mouse pads, it's that they are overpriced. The HandStands mousepad is in a word perfect.
Buy this mouse pad even if you already have one you like; I guarantee this one will win you over.
IMHO: Best mousing surface on the market, especially with the $5.99 price!
I have the Razer eXactMat. Its awesome. One side is for control and the other is for speed. Probably the best thing about it though is it doesn't move on top of your desktop when you move your mouse across it. Its something little but it makes a huge difference, i think.