Just what are you meant to get the poker nerd in your life? I mean, searching out the perfect gifts for poker players is a difficult task at the best of times, and a complete nightmare at the worst. They are a fickle bunch, obsessed with their hobby and only the right piece of kit or deck of cards will suffice. Books might be too controversial, and I have lost count of the number of bad movies out there that claim to understand poker only to get everything wrong. Luckily for you, there’s no need to stress. Here are a few options for the grinder in your house.
For starters, why not pick them up a DIY poker table, which they can assemble by themselves and then invite their mates over for a few hands? Or how about a giant poker set? It’s a great laugh and comes with 54 giant playing cards and a complete set of giant poker chips so you can play for real. Alternatively, you can also buy coasters that look like poker chips, making you can be both tidy and poker themed at the same time. And on those coasters, why not place an ice-cold bottle of beer, which they just opened with their chip stack bottle opener, another one of your thoughtful gifts. Maybe they would enjoy playing with their personalized chip set, which can be ordered to type online. Finally, noise-canceling headphones are useful, too, if they are intense live players. Who knows? Maybe one day, they might be playing in Las Vegas in the WSOP, poker’s top festivals and one that all players dream of participating.
Movies and Films on DVD
Starting with a brand new film, which also happens to be Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, the Oscar-nominated “Molly’s Game” is the first decent poker film in ages. Purists among you will argue that it isn’t a poker film but rather a film based on the poker scene. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a brilliant dramatic movie. Based on a true story, the film details the published memoirs of Molly Bloom, dubbed Hollywood’s “Poker Princess.” With a strong cast that includes Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Chris O’Dowd and led by Jessica Chastain, Sorkin neatly, and in some places delicately, handles the story of how a young Bloom turned a sporting injury into a success story of sorts as she lays on Hollywood’s high stakes — and highly illegal — poker games.
We all love a bit of Bond, and in “Casino Royale,” we see poker as the broker for either potential world peace or the world’s decline. It’s another that may not be a “poker movie,” but Daniel Craig as Bond playing against international terrorist Le Chiffre in the ultimate game of high-risk Hold ‘em is worth the admission alone. In 2015’s “Mississippi Grind,” Ben Mendelsohn plays a down-on-his-luck gambler who meets the cocky and brash Curtis, played by Ryan Reynolds, across the poker table. From there, the pair decides to head due south on a gambler’s road trip convinced they can’t lose.
No list of poker films is complete without highlighting the king of them all, “Rounders.” The astounding thing about “Rounders” is that it predates the online poker boom by a full five years, which might help explain why it’s still so relevant in the community today. The characters, led by Matt Damon’s Mike, Edward Norton’s Worm and John Malkovich’s Teddy “KGB” are irreplaceable, making every scene iconic. Critically, the card play is real, the language is authentic and the script is a treat. Consider the line “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” Just magic.
One player to bridge the gap from poker’s Wild West roots to its sleek new, modern computer-geek filled online world is the recently retired Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson. Brunson, who has banked more than $6 million in his career, also penned one of poker’s greatest ever self-help books. In “Super/System,” the hall of famer shares the strategy that has taken him all the way from hustling in a crime-filled, trigger-happy, pre-boom Vegas to the legendary status he occupies among his peers today. Published as far back as the 70s, “Super/System” is often called the Bible of Poker as it has influenced many of the rising stars it helped to create since its publication.
Another good read is Chris Moorman’s “Moorman’s Book of Poker.” Hailing from the United Kingdom, Chris Moorman is the biggest winner in online poker tournaments’ history, taking home more than $11 million while on the live circuit; he is now the proud owner of a WSOP bracelet. As you might expect from an online phenomenon, this book, written with the help of Byron Jacobs, is the newest book on our list. In the book, it is Jacobs who plays the hands discussed and outlines his thought processes while Moorman interjects his well-timed opinions throughout.
When it comes to the mental side of the game, you nerds could do far worse than reading up on Jared Tendler’s “The Mental Game of Poker,” which he wrote with Barry Carter. It’s a crucial read for anyone who knows only too well how tilt, a lack of motivation or general attitude and motivations at the felt impact your game. In fact, such is the detail the pair go into regarding brain functions, this could well improve your whole mental state away from poker, too. One for fun now, “Every Hand Revealed” by Gus Hansen is a behind-the-scenes, personally penned record of how Gus Hansen took down the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event and its $1,500,000 first-place prize. You may not agree with every move he makes — and remember, he did win the thing — but it’s still a fascinating look into the mind of a high roller. So, there you go. Plenty to be getting on with and need to fret. Not only will they thank you for their gifts, but they might even treat you with their winnings.