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Best of Aaron Todd
Top-10 gift ideas for the gambler in your life29 November 2010
10. Poker table
Every home-game poker player knows that games that take place at the felt are better than those that take place at the dining room table. A real poker table can cost anywhere from $100 for a low-end model to several thousand dollars for the highest quality tables. You'll want one that isn't made just to look good in pictures (i.e., nice felt, but thin weak particle board base), so I recommend a mid-level table for most players. This model has a two-centimeter thick board, as well as a wooden racetrack and steel cup holders, for just $280. If you're looking for a high-end option, check out the offerings from Stine Game Tables. If you've seen a commercial for Full Tilt Poker, you've seen a Stine table. The site allows you to custom-build your own table, and lots of professional athletes (e.g., Derek Jeter, Jimmie Johnson), actors (John Travolta, Hank Azaria), and musicians (Slash, LeAnn Rimes) have Stine tables in their homes.
9. Plastic playing cards
Whether you're a poker player, or enjoy other casino games that use cards, you know that coated paper cards wear out quickly. Why do you think that so many casinos sell their used table-game cards so cheaply in the casino gift shop? Plastic playing cards last infinitely longer than paper cards, and are much less likely to end up marked. Copag makes the most economical cards available ($16 for a two-deck setup), while KEM also makes a high-quality, affordable plastic card as well ($18 for a two-deck setup).
8. Gambling books
The options here are endless, and many of the best books are by Casino City Gaming Guru Frank Scoblete. Is your favorite gambler a craps shooter? Try Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players . Got a slots lover in your life? Get them Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines! It's a blackjack player you're looking for? Then try Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest way to Get the Edge!
For the poker player, there are hundreds of options, but the best may be Doyle Brunson's Super System 2 for the cash game player, and Harrington on Hold'em Volume 1 and Volume 2 for the tournament player.
7. Poker chips
While a poker table is an important part of any home game, poker chips are much more important. Counting cash takes too long, and plastic poker chips are the pits. If the home game hot shot in your life doesn't have a set of real, casino-quality poker chips yet, surprise him/her with a nice set as a gift during the holidays this year. You can purchase an affordable set on Amazon.com for anywhere from $40 for a low-end starter set of 500 chips, to a set of 14-gram Trademark chips that retails at $160 (but is on sale for $83 as of the publication date).
If you're looking for premium chips, www.buypokerchips.com offers clay and ceramic chips, and you can even have them customized for that special poker player in your life.
6. Craps table
If you're looking for a high-end gift for that special someone's man cave, there's nothing like a craps table to bring some excitement to the basement. Trademark offers an eight-foot table on Amazon.com, currently listed at over 50 percent off for just $1,170. You can also purchase a full-sized casino quality craps table through Frank Scoblete's Golden Touch Craps Web site for $3,895, plus shipping and handling.
5. PokerTek Heads-Up Challenge table
Another great addition to the man-cave, PokerTek's Heads-Up Challenge table allows two poker players to face off without having to deal with cards or chips. If the special someone in your life likes to host poker tournaments, and the people who bust out earlier are looking for something to occupy their time, the Heads-Up Challenge table will give them a place to restart the competition again.
4. Video Poker for Winners
If you're looking for gift ideas for video poker players, look no further than Video Poker for Winners from Bob Dancer. The site offers a downloadable computer program that will teach any user optimal strategy for almost any variation of video poker for just $50. The program features a coaching mechanism that informs a player when he has made an incorrect decision. It also features a test that allows you to see how often you make perfect plays, and how much money you would theoretically be giving up by varying from optimal play.
3. Card counting iPhone app
If you're shopping for an iPhone owner, you can find plenty of card-counting apps available for sale in the app store. Make sure you let your loved one know, however, that these applications are not for use in a casino and are for practicing purposes only. In Nevada, it's a felony to use a device to aid in card counting.
2. Online poker bankroll
If you watched any of this year's World Series of Poker coverage on ESPN, you probably know by now that this year's Main Event runner-up, John Racener, started playing online poker thanks to a $50 gift from his mother to an online poker account. He ran it up to $30,000 in the course of two years and has never looked back. His runner-up finish this year totaled $5.5 million, and he now boasts over $6.8 million in career earnings. Not bad for a $50 stake from his mother. The two biggest Internet poker rooms -- PokerStars and Full Tilt -- are probably the best places to start.
1. Trip to Vegas
Whether your loved one is a regular Sin City visitor or they've never been before, there's nothing a gambler will appreciate more than a getaway to Las Vegas. Book a trip, stay at a casino that fits your budget, and make a week of it. Hotel rates have never been lower, and the price of flights is also near an all-time low. Imagine the surprise and excitement your loved one will feel when you tell them they're going to Las Vegas. And remember, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
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