Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which means tomorrow is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. It’s the perfect time to get started on your holiday gift shopping, including the poker players in your life — as long as you keep these simple tips in mind.

The best poker Christmas gifts are usually practical

When it comes to poker gifts, practicality is a big deal. If you’re buying poker Christmas gifts for someone who has a regular home game or plays at the casino often, you’re going to be looking for different things than you would if you were buying for someone newer to the game. The key to giving a great gift is knowing the recipient well.

For the beginner

If there’s a novice poker player in your life, a great place to start can be a small chip set and a few decks of plastic playing cards, which are more durable than the old-school coated paper cards. If your intended recipient travels a lot, one great option is the PokerStars Mini Chip Set. Wherever you’re going, this compact 200-chip set has everything you need to play a full game of poker, including a four-color deck of plastic cards. And at just 820 grams it won’t tip your carry-on bag over any airline’s weight limit.

(For a more experienced player, a high-end chip set can make a great gift. For an idea of what to look for, check out this primer on how poker chips are made.)

For the improver

No respectable player ever stops working their poker skills, so training resources can make great gifts. There are more of them available today than ever before with books, training sites, private coaching, and software tools among the options available. But it’s important to know the poker player you’re buying for so your gift will actually be useful. For instance, an app that focuses on the skills you use in poker tournaments is probably not going to be used much if the intended recipient is a cash game devotee. Likewise, if you choose to go with a training site, it’s also worth checking out the curriculum to make sure the topics on offer will be of use to your recipient.

For the more advanced player

Paradoxically, sometimes the most practical thing you can do is to stop being practical for a moment. That’s what Randi Hilsercop did for her hard-working husband Jeremy last Christmas when she gifted him with a dream trip to Las Vegas for the 2019 World Series of Poker, tourney buy-ins included. Things got crazy and a Platinum Pass even got thrown in to make it a most memorable Christmas. While you might not be able to score a Platinum Pass, gifting your favorite poker player a WSOP package would certainly be an unforgettable gift.

Hit the books

Whatever level of poker player is on your Christmas gift list, they’ll enjoy some classic poker entertainment. It’s exceptionally easy these days to get your hands on copies of classic poker films like The Cincinnati Kid, California Split, and Rounders. And all of those go great with our own Martin Harris’s look at the history of poker in American films and television, the appropriately titled Poker and Pop Culture.

The key to a great Christmas gift of any sort is to keep the recipient in mind. Tailor your gift choice to them and you’ll bring smiles to their faces long after this year’s holiday recedes into memory.

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