Christmas is a week away and if you're anything like us that means you're just getting started with your holiday shopping.
It can be tough finding something for that poker player on your list so we've put together a handy guide. These are items that a poker player will actually use, unlike that sweater with a royal flush on it I got from my grandmother last year.
It's broken down into presents for the casual, live and online player and arranged from cheap to expensive.
For the Casual Poker Player
This is the type of poker player that gets together every week with his buddies and plays a home game. He probably doesn't play much online or at the casino but wouldn't miss that weekly home game for the world.
1. Plastic Playing Cards – Paper cards are a thing of the past, every Casino around the world now uses plastic playing cards.
The benefits of plastic over paper should be obvious, they last infinitely longer. Paper cards get dirty and damaged after a single poker game.
Plastic cards are almost impossible to damage and can be cleaned when dirty. Though you'll initially pay more for plastic cards in the long run you'll actually save money because they last so much longer.
The two best brands of plastic playing cards are Kem and Copag.
2. Decent Poker Chips - Something that outsiders may not understand is how much a decent chip set can really change the over all feel of a home poker game.
If the chip set is cheap, the game feels cheap. If it's a decent set then the game feels more serious and is a lot more enjoyable.
When buying a chip set you have two real options. There are real clay chip sets (the most expensive) and there are plastic synthetic blend.
The plastic synthetic blends can come close to the look and feel of real clay chips but they will never be the same, but for 25% of the price of a clay set they come close enough.
3. A Real Poker Table – Playing at a kitchen table may work but it's not very enjoyable, it's cramped and the chips and cards slide every where.
If you regularly check craigslist you can sometimes get lucky and find a real poker table for $500ish. If not you may have to either get one custom made or order one online.
Though it may seem like a lot of money if the person on your list hosts a regular game a good table is well worth it. If you're a DIY type, here's a great poker table you can build yourself for under $300.
For the Live Poker Player
If the poker player on your list does most of their poker playing at the casino then these are the gift selections for you.
1. Poker Books – Now whatever you do don't just go out and buy a book by someone who's name you recognize. Though Phil Hellmuth may be a well known poker player his books are well known to be awful.
Your best bet is to pick up something from 2+2 Publishing. Every book they've ever published is good and can help take any poker player to the next level.
Pot Limit Omaha is a hot game right now and 2+2 just released a PLO book. How about you start there.
2. Noise Cancelling Headphones – The casino can be a noisy place, and poker isn't always as exciting as the movies make it seem. For that reason many people listen to music. With noise canceling headphones you can cut out the ever present sound of shuffling chips and casino slot machines and just focus your poker game.
3. An Ipod – For the same reasons above, poker can be a boring game at times. Listening to music can make that boredom go away. An iPod is a must for any semi serious poker player.
For the Online Poker Player
If that poker playing person on your list plays online than I look no further than these three items.
1. Poker Tracking Software - Poker Tracking Software tracks every single hand you play online and gives you easy to read stats on everything from how much money you've made to how many hands you've played, to how often your aces hold up.
Chances are if the person on your list is any good at online poker they already have poker tracking software. So if they've been playing online for a while it might be ok to skip this gift or ask them if they have tracking software.
The only two programs worth purchasing are Hold'em Manager or Pokertracker.
2. A Training Site Subscription – There are a number of online resources where you can learn to play better poker.
These sites have training videos by the best players playing online poker. For a monthly fee the player on your list can download and study as many as they want to help become a better poker player.
The best training sites out there are Cardrunners, DeucesCracked, BlueFirePoker and LeggoPoker.
3. A big monitor – Online poker has a huge advantage over live poker because you can play more than one table at a time. Some players play as many as 20 different poker games at one time.
A great gift for any serious poker player would be a gigantic monitor, or lacking that, two smaller ones.
I, for one, rock two 22 inch monitors. Though I would love to have two bigger ones. The bigger the better for multi-tablers. More tables, means more hands, and more hands mean more money.
So when you give the gift of bigger monitors you're actually giving the gift of more earning power!
That pretty much covers it; presents for poker players that don't suck. Save the poker shot glasses and card protectors and get the poker player in your life something that they'll actually use. I'm sure they'll be more than surprised.