Remember when your dad retired and decided to take up golf, and suddenly everything he ever got for his birthday was golf-related? You bought him some golf socks. Your mum got him some golf shoes. Even your auntie got involved and bought him a golf umbrella. (Every single birthday card? A naff golf joke.)
If you have a friend or a relative who says they like poker, the chances are they’ve had a few birthdays or Christmases like that. They’ve been bought packs of cards by their mums. A plastic chip set from their brother. And someone even bought a copy of How To Play Poker by A. Z-List Celebrity, which is now back in the charity shop where it belongs.
In short: if you’re looking to buy a gift for a poker player, try not to go for the most obvious. They’ve probably already got it, and thrown it away. However, there are tons of things they will really, really like, and which will help them improve their game no end. But you won’t find the gifts on the high street. You’ll need to follow some of the links below instead.
That’s a roundabout way of introducing our poker gift guide for 2020. These aren’t necessarily what you’d think of straight away, but that should make them all the better.
It’s easy to see why with the like of Lex Veldhuis, Spraggy and Fintan Hand representing PokerStars, and other top talents such as Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet, Benjamin “bencb123” Rolle and Patrick “pads1161” Leonard, among many many others, all offering their insights.
It’s the best way to learn in real time, in real situations, and to interact with your favourite players too.
Content providers on Twitch essentially rely on tips, which they receive via subscriptions and donations on their channel. The payments allow viewers to engage in the chat and access subscriber-only content, so it’s not entirely a one-way street. As a gift buyer, a Twitch gift card is the way to go. The recipient can then choose the streamers they like the best and reward them accordingly.
SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIMEIt’s not often that a poker book captures mainstream attention quite so completely as Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff. There was a period this year where one could barely pick up a magazine or a newspaper supplement without finding an extract — and rightly so.
Konnikova’s book, which she reported in the most part while a sponsored PokerStars ambassador, offers unique insight into what it takes to compete at the highest level. Check that they haven’t got it already, but any poker player would like to receive a copy.
Other poker-related books released this year, and which have received a rave from our resident Poker & Pop Culture expert, include Peter Alson’s The Only Way To Play It (excerpt here) and Joseph Walsh’s Who Says It’s Over. The latter is the autobiography of the screenwriter behind California Split, probably the greatest poker film ever made. “Like the world of movies and TV, gambling also foregrounded for Walsh how life is full of risk and reward, of agony and ecstasy, of outcomes wished for and realized,” Harris wrote in his review of the book.
Although it’s not released until December 31, Duncan Palamourdas’s book Why Alex Beats Bobbie at Poker sounds kind of fascinating too. Pre-order that one from our friends at D&B Poker.
GIVE SOMETHING BACKIt may seem counter-intuitive, particularly people who don’t know too many top-ranking poker pros, but some of the game’s top talents actually like giving money away. They’re voracious competitors at the tables, battling hard for every chip, but after they’ve secured their enormous pay-days, they like to hand the cash to someone else.
To explain: Dan Smith has been running his “Double Up Drive” since 2014. It’s an initiative by which he and his team (including Ash Mason and Stephen Chidwick) matches any donation people might want to make to a list of chosen charities. Each year there’s a target donation amount — this year it’s $884,350 — and they usually get very near to hitting it. The total over the seven years so far is at more than $16 million.
More details are available on the Double Up Drive website, including a list of this year’s charities. But if you’re at a loss for what to buy the poker player who has everything, why not make a charity donation in their name? Smith will match it, and everyone is happy.
(Remember REG charity, co-founded by PokerStars’ old friends Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov, also does similar excellent work. They would also be very grateful for anything you can donate.)
FIT IN MINDFedor Holz doesn’t play as much poker as he used to, which is good news for almost everyone else. There was a period where he was winning every penny in the game. The reason Holz withdrew from poker was to launch Primed Mind, a mindset coaching app that “combines the elements of meditation, hypnotherapy, and life coaching”, in association with leading mindset coach Elliot Roe.
Modern poker players are increasingly aware of the importance of keeping mentally fit and astute, and apps like Primed Mind encourage better mental health. It tailors a program to its users preferences and claims to help from everything from establishing a solid daily routine, to sleeping better and increasing focus for work and study.
Treat the poker player in your life to a subscription from $4.99 per month.
FIT IN BODYFollowing on from the above, it’s also a long, long time ago since most successful poker players lived on nothing but fry-ups, cheap booze and cigarettes. We’re hardly revealing anything new by stating that poker players take care of their health these days and eat vitamins, healthy foods and nutritious shakes.
They are, however, still short of time. Poker sessions go on for ages. It means there are still plenty of ways you can find your way to the heart of a poker player through his or her stomach — principally if you can find a way to help them make decent food quickly.
A subscription to a quick meal-making service like Hello Fresh could be useful, while if they’re based in Las Vegas, the WSOP favourite All American Dave is open year round. Similarly, a top smoothie maker would definitely be appreciated, while there’s still a lot to be said for an Instant Pot, described by the New York Times as “a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker in one handy unit”.