6 Poker Gadgets That Aren’t Lame

I usually agree with the writer Orison Marden: “He only is rich who can enjoy without owning.” I own a decent car, sure, but I’ve maintained it and kept it running for over a decade. I don’t have a massive house, I don’t wear any jewelry besides my wedding ring, and I try to live life simply.

Except when it comes to poker.

I’m a total sucker for poker gadgets. Over the years, I’ve bought enough eBooks, trainers, and fancy equipment for my poker room to operate a resale shop. Everyone has a vice, right? I own everything from Vat19’s giant playing cards to the ridiculous Belkin n52te mouse that poker pros seem to swear by. I’ll try anything twice, just in case the first time was a fluke.

My collection of poker gadgets that I used twice and got rid of could fill a small warehouse, but the list of gadgets that I continue to use and find useful? It’s really short. I feel uniquely qualified to offer up a list of six poker gadgets that don’t suck. The six devices below are items that I actually recommend to poker players – not just things that I think are neat.

Bestway’s Inflatable Poker Table
Once upon a time you had to track Betway down online and place an email order if you wanted this item. It cost $50 and I was lucky to get one when I did. Then I started seeing them on Amazon, at a slightly lower price. These days, you can buy Bestway’s inflatable Texas Hold’em poker “table and chair set” at Wal-Mart. For less than $30 you can take your weekly game out to the pool and get some Vitamin D for once. I swear by this thing during the summer, and it’s a great conversation piece.

Rush Creek’s Octagon Poker Table
If you value the ambience of your private poker game, it’s time to man up and invest in a legitimate poker table. The days of folding tables and plastic lawn chairs are over. Poker players have style and they demand a certain level of quality. Impress your friends and own this piece of furniture that you don’t have to hide when the boys aren’t over. Sure, it has a frontier look, but I don’t think it’d be out of place in a game room or man cave.

KEM Plastic Playing Cards
I got on the KEM train early. It’s rare that poker players come to anything like a consensus, but in the case of KEM’s cellulose acetate playing cards, everyone agrees. They’re the best. They’re beautiful, durable, and available in two sizes and a wide range of designs. Point your browser to KEM’s website to order the cards and browse their list of accessories, like chip sets, score pads, and card trays. I’ve tried switching to Copag PVC cards, mainly because they’re 1/3 the price and still a respected manufacturer, but I just hate the way the PVC feels in my hands. Go with the original and still champion playing card manufacturer – KEM.

Logitech’s G19 Programmable Gaming Keyboard
If my wife thought a $70 mouse was obscene, imagine how she’d respond if she knew how much I really spent on Logitech’s G19 keyboard. I told her I won it in a giveaway – but in reality it set me back $200. It’s worth every penny. From the customizable LED backlight (which has cut back on my mis-clicks) to the built-in LCD screen I use to display stats and YouTube videos while I play, I can’t imagine playing online poker without it.

An Aeron Office Chair
Herman Miller makes the famous Aeron chair, and though it was in no way designed specifically for use by poker players, I think it is a must-won for anyone expected to spend serious time in front of their laptop playing poker. The Aeron is beautiful, functional, and eliminates overheating and strain through the use of ergonomic design and modern materials and production. If I sound like a fanboy, it’s because I am. I cured years of muscle strain and sciatica by replacing my cheap office chair with an Aeron. I’ve probably saved thousands of dollars in chiropractor bills just by buying my Aeron, which set me back almost $800 but was totally worth it.

A Year of Poker Training at Ivey League
Not exactly a gadget, but still expensive enough to make this list. A year’s paid subscription to Ivey League will set you back between $70 and $500, but the access this membership gives you to training from real poker pros is (not to sound like a broken record) totally worth it. I recommend this service to poker players at all ability levels. If you can afford it, the Masters access (at $75 a month) gives you access to the most content and the most one-on-one contact with the site’s pros. Don’t take my word for it – check out PokerFuse’s review from last year.

Conclusion
Don’t get me wrong on this point – I don’t think gadgets are crucial to success in poker, online or otherwise. I know amazing players that own a twelve year-old laptop and absolutely no gadgets. I also know guys that buy everything on the market and never win a hand.

But I DO think that most players will enjoy themselves more if they incorporated gadgets into their poker game. My online poker play is a form of entertainment – I don’t make nearly enough money from poker to call it a job. If I think of entertainment as currency, anything that makes me have more fun increases my expected value.

The gadgets above have all been tested extensively by myself and my poker buddies. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list. But it is a list of amazing poker-related gadgets and merchandise that can enhance the entertainment value of your poker play. And that’s worth a few Amazon purchases, don’t you think?

How to Find Profitable Video Poker Opportunities

Everyone has their favorite casino games and everyone wants a chance to win some money while playing these games. Some people are more interested in playing as long as possible than having the best chance to win on any given trip.

Video poker offers some of the best chances to extend your bankroll at the same time as having a chance to land a big win. The secret is finding a machine that offers a high percentage return to the player and learning to play using the best possible strategy.

Every game requires a different strategy, but there is a correct way to play every hand of video poker. Even in a situation that loses in the long run, there is a way to play that loses the least amount of money.

Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild
In addition to learning the best strategy you have to be able to find machines that offer the best payouts. I know I mentioned this already, but if you can’t find a machine it doesn’t matter how good it pays or how well you know the strategy.

For example, there are a few video poker machines that pay back over 100% with perfect strategy but they are almost impossible to find. This post concentrates on a couple popular video poker variations that are fairly easy to find, Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.

You can find many different pay tables with some offering better payback percentages than others. Here are the pay tables that you need to find to have the best chance to win while playing video poker. (There are a few better pay tables available for Deuces Wild, but this is by far the most common “good” pay table you will find.)

The best Jacks or Better pay table is often called a 9 / 6 which stands for the pay back for a full house and a flush. The return is over 99.5% with perfect strategy on a 9 / 6 machine. Here is the complete pay table.

800 Royal Flush
50 Straight Flush
25 Four of a Kind
9 Full House
6 Flush
4 Straight
3 Three of a Kind
2 Two Pair
Pair of Jacks or Better
The most common favorable Deuces Wild pay table is called a “not so ugly ducks” machine. You may see this referred to as NSUD. The pay back percentage with perfect strategy is over 99.7%. Here is the complete NSUD pay table.

800 Natural Royal Flush
200 Four Deuces
25 Wild Royal Flush
16 Five of a Kind
10 Straight Flush
4 Four of a Kind
4 Full House
3 Flush
2 Straight
Three of a Kind
The next step after finding the best machines is using the best strategy. I suggest picking up one of the strategy cards that are about the size of a credit card and using it while playing. This way you can always see the best play.

Comps and Player’s Clubs
When you play the machines listed above giving the house less than a half percent edge you can play longer and keep playing long enough to give yourself the best chance at winning a top payout by hitting a natural royal flush.

You also should always combine your video poker play with as many comps as possible. Most casinos have a player’s club that you can join that rewards you for your play. You may earn cash back, free hotel stays, free meals or many other types of benefits.

Even if your rewards don’t include any actual cash, they are still worth something. If you get a free meal that would have cost you $20, it’s the same as winning an extra $20 because it is money you didn’t have to spend.

Most casinos don’t pay back enough through their player’s clubs to let you consistently play with an advantage against them, but you may be able to play a break even game in the long run.

The majority of players don’t play correct strategy so the casinos take their money quicker. Sometimes player’s club benefits are determined based on everyone’s play so if you play perfect strategy you may be able to gain a small edge with your benefits.

Either way, if you always play using the best strategy and take advantage of the player’s club benefits you are doing everything you can to reduce the advantage the house has.

Video Poker Tournaments
Another area that can offer extended playing time on a set bankroll and / or a chance to play with a small edge over the house is playing in video poker tournaments.

A video poker tournament is a contest where the players play video poker for a set period of time. The players with the highest balance at the end of the pre-set time either moves to the next round of play or wins the prizes.

You may be able to find free video poker tournaments, but most of them have an entry fee.

You may be wondering how you could play with an advantage over the house in a video poker tournament. Here is an example.

Many tournaments have a minimum guaranteed prize pool and sometimes there aren’t enough entrants to cover the entire amount. This is called an overlay. If the guaranteed prizes total $1,000 and there is only $900 in entry fees, there is a $100 overlay. This creates a profitable situation for the entrants. On average, each entrant will win a percentage of the overlay based on how many entrants there are. In real life only the players who finish in the money enjoy the overlay, but if you put yourself in enough situations with an overlay you will come out ahead in the long run (Assuming you play at an average or above average level. This isn’t difficult if you use basic strategy.).

Conclusion
You can use video poker to extend your casino play and combine it with player’s club benefits to give yourself the best chance to win. Always play on the best machines, sign up for the player’s club and use the best strategy.

Racing Awards, Medals and Customized Gear for Runners

Running, whether it be a 5k with the family, a 10k for an extra challenge, or a marathon for the elite runners, can be a very exciting and memorable experience. Running is a very personal sport to lots of people, as it can be great exercise and can make you look and feel very refreshed. Tons of awards are given out to winners at races each year. For people organizing these racing events, finding customized and personal running gear can be difficult, as well as finding unique prizes for running champions. When orchestrating a race, you want to have a memorable competition. Medals and unique prizes can help to make the race more exciting. Participants can keep prizes as souvenirs, and remember the experience better because of a keepsake.
The most important souvenir a competitor can take home is a winning medal. Those are worn with pride, and showed to family members and friends. They are often hung on walls, or shown off where they can be seen. Of course, medals need to be personalized, unique, and specific. You cannot award a running champion with a medal that doesn’t recognize what it’s for. It is often a perfect idea to find a company that will provide you with customized prizes for winners. Often, you can ask for customized medals that include the date, the name of the race, and the name of the company sponsoring and orchestrating the event. That way, when people proudly show their winning medal to others, the people who made the event happen will receive the credit and publicity they deserve.

In addition to medals, running apparel and gear can be a great way to make the race more memorable. Unlike medals, gear is commonly worn and would be used often. Passing out swag, such as customized shirts, jackets, hats, and bags can be a great way to add to the excitement of the race. Races with their own gear are viewed as more unique, as they have customized logos and attractive designs. Shirts can be given out to families, and jackets can be sold at the finish line. Hats can be passed out before the race to keep the sun out of the athlete’s eyes. And, of course, bags can be kept forever and used for multiple occasions. Having the name and date of your race on these items can help to increase publicity and help the runners remember what a successful and memorable race it was. Customizing these mementos can help to define a great race, and will definitely help a race to be more exciting and enjoyable.