Once upon a time, poker companies were practically falling over themselves to distribute swag to players. Back in the poker boom days, from 2004–2006, the money was really flowing into the poker industry and companies had cash to burn. Ask anyone who has been around the poker world for 10 years or longer and they’ll probably regale you with stories of the cool stuff they got for free, back when it was being passed out like candy in the WSOP hallways and at other major poker tournament series around the world.
Those “Golden Days” of poker may be long gone, but our game is definitely experiencing an upwards trajectory as of late. Companies may not be tossing as much swag around as they used to, but there are still some nice little gems to be found if you hang around poker’s big events. Over the last couple of years, I’ve amassed a nice little treasure trove of poker swag that hasn’t just been fun to collect, but that has also proved to be quite useful. Here’s a list of seven of my favorites:
When it gets a bit breezy, a light windbreaker is the perfect remedy. If temperatures drop further, it’s always good to have an extra sweater on hand. Even if the weather outside is quite pleasant, as any seasoned poker player can tell you, it can get a bit nippy playing indoors at a tournament for hours at a time. Best to have a pullover on hand, just in case.
A solid mug is great to have handy when you’re clicking buttons playing online poker (or even other casino games like online blackjack) at home on a chilly winter night. If you know that the hot coffee or tea you love will be hard to find when you’re out and about doing errands, a trusty thermos will often save the day.
It’s rare to see a poker player, be they of the professional or recreational variety, without some sort of a bag in tow. Bags and backpacks come in all shapes and sizes with the most useful containing larger pockets or compartments for items like laptops and tablets, as well as smaller, zippered areas for storing gum, pens, small, notepads, earbuds, etc.
At the very least, a sturdy bag or backpack gives you a great place to hold all that other poker swag you’ll want to collect 🙂 .
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 12, 2017
While sunglasses have waned somewhat in popularity at the poker tables, hats will always be in fashion. Great for helping to hide one’s visual tells at the felt, the baseball cap is practically part of a live poker player’s uniform. Hats also provide great advertising space for poker companies, who are only too happy to have their brands showcased by players who wear them at televised feature tables.
Obtaining poker books for free isn’t easy; after all, the authors produce them in order to sell them. That said, if you’re fortunate enough to develop a good relationship with said authors and offer to review their books on your poker blog, you might be able to score a free copy from time to time.
I’ve also got to tip my hat to Phil Hellmuth on this one, and not just because he was kind enough to give me a copy of Poker Brat after I interviewed him.
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) June 14, 2017
While I was working for Poker PROductions during the 2017 WSOP Main Event, I couldn’t help but notice that for a few days running, Phil had decided to gift a free copy of his autobiography to each player seated at the main feature table. Well played, sir, and some great swag for players lucky enough to get that PokerGO/ESPN TV time!
As more and more live poker rooms outfit their tables with USB ports, a portable charger is becoming somewhat less of a necessity, but when it comes to mobile devices, you can never have enough juice. Until the producers of Smartphones and tablets can greatly extend their battery life, portable chargers will continue being useful poker swag. You certainly wouldn’t want to be in the middle of taking notes on the Poker Notes Live app only for your phone to shut off!
Decks of Cards/Patches
I’d bet that decks of cards and patches were probably among the first types of poker swag to be produced. Nothing says “poker” like a deck of cards. Whether you’re planning to use them when you get back to your home game, or even give them to your kids to play with, a deck of cards is something you can be sure won’t get tossed in the garbage bin. As for patches, while organizations might not be paying random players tens of thousands of dollars to wear them anymore, it’s still a great way to show your support for some of your favorite poker outfits.
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 13, 2017