When working as a close-up magician it is super important to have a smooth surface to spread cards. Or maybe you work with coins and you don't want them "making noise" or as magicians call it "talking". This is why most close up performers pack close up pads. They are portable and provide a nice smooth surface for performing on.
You may want to keep in mind the variations of mats as well. A smaller but thicker pad (11x16, deluxe) is going to be better for a strolling magician. The thickness will provide durability from constantly picking up the pad and moving from table to table. The smaller size will allow guests who may be eating at the table room to set their plates.
If you are sitting stationary and performing at a table you may want a larger pad (16x23). Larger pads are great because they give you more space for larger-scale close up tricks like the classic Cups and Balls.
If you are just starting out, standard or the economy pads will do just fine. Keep in mind a larger pad (16x23) is going to be easier for learning to spread cards properly and will give you a larger workspace.
Black pads are great for misdirection and are great for magicians who perform up close, but what if you wanted to make a video using a pad? You might want to use a brighter color like Blue, Red, or Green. Also consider the color of your cards when you make your choice. A red deck doesn't stand out well on a red pad (but if you use blue decks that's not a problem).
While it is common that most magicians use standard bicycle red and blue rider backs, there are many different colors, styles, and designs to choose from.