The 11 Gifts Every Poker Fan Needs This Christmas, Part One
The trees have fully turned, the weather has gotten colder and lights are finding their way onto city streets and homes around the world. It all signals the start of a mad scramble to find the best possible Christmas gifts for friends and family.
But for those of us with poker players on the list, coming up with the perfect present can be a bit tricky. The game's fashion and tech accoutrements are always evolving, with in-vogue products fading away into fads just as your Mum finishes wrapping that old Betamax video player.
To help point you in the right direction, PokerStars Blog has put together 11 gift ideas that are perfect for any poker player's list.
Electronics and Tech
Whether they grind away on the virtual felt, travel to PokerStars Championships and Festivals around the world, or simply spend long hours at the table, poker players rely on technology to enhance their experience.
The modern poker player is the vision of tech savviness, watching a movie on their tablet, bobbing their head to the beats emanating from noise-cancelling headphones or tapping off text missives on their phone.
The gift ideas below can be used simply as updates or for finally ushering your favorite poker fan into the 21st century.
Phone Charger/Backup Battery
Even with a full charge when the first hand of the day is dealt, a long tournament or cash game session inevitably drains a phone's battery.
Posting chip stack updates on Twitter or perusing playlists sucks the energy out of even the best phones, leaving poker players to wander the halls of the casino in search of an outlet or friendly member of the media when they need to get a charge.
But with a universal charger and backup battery system like Bolt, they'll never need to fade a dead device again. Bolt is a stupidly simple handheld cube that features folding outlet prongs, essentially replacing the standard charger and serving as a backup battery.
Universal connection via USB port ensures that Bolt can quickly charge iPhones, Androids, Bluetooth devices and digital cameras. By charging the backup battery before hitting the cardroom, poker players using Bolt can bring their phones and tablets back to life even when there are no outlets in sight. Now if only a similar device existed for bringing back to life a dwindling chip stack...
This particular charger/backup battery unit costs $49.99, and similar products can be found all along the pricing spectrum.
Three-Pack of Twitch Stream Subscriptions
One of the more innovative advancements in poker tech to gain popularity over the last year or two has been the advent of live-streamed poker instruction. The Twitch platform has become an essential resource, both for aspiring players looking to learn the ropes and professionals hoping to stay ahead of the curve.
The top of the Twitch mountain is ruled by Jason Somerville, who streams on a dedicated schedule under his flourishing Run It Up channel. Known as "JCarver" online, the Team PokerStars Pro has worked hard to establish poker's preferred Twitch-streaming template: casual hosting with a healthy dose of humor, accessible instruction delivered in a relatable way and an interactive experience connecting students directly to the teacher.
Somerville's PokerStars teammate Daniel Negreanu was not as early to the Twitch party, but "Kid Poker" has embraced the medium fully over the last few months. Under his DNegsPokerchannel, viewers are invited into Negreanu's living room for high-stakes mixed games, critical analysis of different poker hands or musings on finding balance in poker from the master himself.
Jaime Staples isn't as well-known as Somerville and Negreanu, but the PokerStars Team Online member has been streaming since 2014, making the PokerStaples channel one of the first poker platforms on Twitch. His analytical approach and focus on instruction makes Staples a favorite of recreational players looking to take their game to the next level.
At $4.99 per month, securing yearly subscriptions to each of these three Twitch teachers would run under $180, a tremendous value for unfettered access to top poker thinkers.
Comfortable Wireless Headphones
As usual, Apple serves as the engine for tech innovation, with wireless headphones their addition to the marketplace.
At one point in time, in cardrooms across the country, the majority of players at any given table could be seen clad in cranium-hugging headphones. Listening to music or other media was the main purpose, but drowning out incessant table talk was clearly a motivating factor as well.
The headphone craze came and went, so they're not as ubiquitous as they once were, but serious poker players still need a quality set in their toolbox.
The QuietComfort line from Bose is a standard high-priced option, at $349.99, but for that you'll get it all: wireless functionality, world-class acoustics, and as the name implies, an emphasis on comfort. Of course, Bose also offers low-cost alternatives, as do Sony, Beats, JVC and the rest, so you shouldn't want for affordable options during the headphone hunt this holiday season.