Poker-themed key-chains, T-shirts that say, “I got the nuts”, underpants that say “I’m all-in” – poker-related merchandise really can be quite tacky, can’t it? That’s why it’s time to throw away all the junk you were bought for Christmas by well-meaning friends and relatives and buy some good stuff in the January sales to replace it.
Poker Gifts: The Book
Poker Brat, by Phil Hellmuth – $16.96
This Christmas we gathered the children around a cheerful hearth and read to them from the exploits of our favourite author, Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. Their little mouths were agog as they learnt of the man who can dodge bullets. Their eyes widened in wonder as they heard of the miracle of ‘White Magic’.
Poker Brat is the story of how a young lad from Madison, Wisconsin, with poor grades and fragile self-esteem, transformed himself into a poker mega-lord with more bracelets than anyone on earth, and how he came to accept and then temper his raging Poker Brat persona.
Hellmuth’s saving grace has always been that, for all the tantrums, he can laugh at himself, and he tells this story with a great deal of humour, self-awareness and self-deprecation. It’s also quite inspiring. If Hellmuth is the player you love to hate, reading this book may force you to reassess that view.
Poker Gift: Sunglasses
Jet Black Oakleys – $187.99
We thought it would be cool to find the world’s darkest shades to help increase inscrutability at the poker table, because – try as we might – we can’t help offering our opponents massive, goofy, conspiratorial winks every time we bluff. Probably nerves. Oakley Radar Path Jet Black/Black Iridium Polarized fit the bill – eyewear that truly blocks out the sun.
Poker Gift: Sunshine
Panasonic Toughbook – various prices
Speaking of which, online poker players, ever heard of Vitamin D? No, it’s not a drink. Your body synthesises it from the sun, and if you don’t get enough of it you die. But don’t be alarmed. Thanks to the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54, you can grind as many tables as you like while absorbing the sun’s Vitamin D from the middle of a field, or up a mountain.
This is the best ‘rugged’ laptop on the market, according to TechRadar. Rugged laptops are built like tanks with bright screens that work outdoors. And because they’re as tough as old boots, they can take some abuse, which is handy for bad beats. It’s the perfect gift for a loved one who simply needs to get out more, but hurry before they get rickets.
Poker Gift: Enhanced vision
Thermal-imaging goggles – $5,399
What better way to improve your people-reading skills than with these handy thermal-imaging goggles? Simply ask the villain if he likes his hand, observe whether or not his body temperature rises, and wham! you catch the blighter in the act. They also double up as night-vision goggles for readers who are plagued regularly by peeping toms.
Disclaimer: we have no idea whether these would actually work in a live poker environment and, furthermore, we doubt they’d be allowed into any casino in the world.
Poker Gift: another book
Exploiting Poker Tells, by Zach Elwood – $27.95
We’ll give you a much better way to improve your people-reading skills than via thermal-imaging goggles and it’s called Exploiting Poker Tells. This is the latest book from Zach Elwood, whose Reading Poker Tells (2012) and Verbal Poker Tells (2014) are hands-down the most important analysis of non-verbal communication and table talk ever published.
Exploiting poker tells takes Elwood’s wealth of research and puts it to work in practical situations. The book contains 135 hand histories, played by Elwood and several other pro players, each of which demonstrates a particular read and how it was used to the player’s advantage. While previous books shared the secrets of people-reading, this one shows you exactly what to do with those secrets.
Rather than strapping expensive and frankly stupid apparatus to your face, why not absorb the knowledge inconspicuously into your brain instead? The good news is, Exploiting Poker Tells is now only $27.95, down from its original publication of $34.95.
Poker Gifts: The watch
“Infinity Piece” Watch – $150
Nothing yells “I am great at poker” more stridently than a badass watch. But how about a watch that’s so badass it doesn’t even tell the time? Yes, the Infinity Piece does away with functionally altogether. It’s beauty over horology, and let’s face it: all the other watches are trying way too hard with all that big-hand/little-hand stuff. “What’s the time? Who cares, just deal the damn cards!”
Poker gifts: improving your game
PokerCoaching.com – $27 per month
Allow us to let you into a little secret. The truth is, you don’t really need a badass watch that says “I am great at poker” if you actually are great at poker. And these days, the best way to get great at poker is to join a training site.
Once you’ve enjoyed all the free strategy videos here at paulphuapoker.com, you might want to ask your nearest and dearest for a subscription to PokerCoaching.com, a poker school headed up by the excellent Jonathan Little. Here, you will find webinars, interactive quizzes and a poker strategy discussion forum that will take your game to the next level. Not convinced? You can try before you buy, with a totally free seven-day trial.
Poker gift: perfect apparel
Hundred-dollar bill sweater – $152
They say money can’t buy class. Wrong! This hundred-dollar bill sweater just screams “class-act”, while leaving your opponents in no doubt as to your priorities in life. Few things in this world are as pleasurable as rubbing hundred-dollar bills on your upper torso, and now you can feel that particular frisson all day long, while outwardly retaining the poise and distinction that comes with being a truly “stand-up guy.”
Poker Gift: Cologne
Whiskey Cologne – $60
“Always drink gin with a mark, kid,” spits Paul Newman in The Sting as he dabs neat gin around his neck, “he can’t tell if you cut it.” Newman pours most of the gin in the sink, fills the rest up with water and proceeds to give the best “pretending to be drunk” poker performance ever. And now you, too, can pretend to be drunk with this marvelous whiskey cologne. It may not be the best scent to attract the right sort of woman, but will attract the right sort of poker player… TO YOUR VALUE BETS!