With the holiday season now upon us, folks everywhere are in a gift-giving mood and on the prowl for that perfect present. On that front, I had the pleasure of recently penning a primer on buying gifts for my favorite demographic group – casino gambling enthusiasts.
You can catch up on Part I of this two-part series here, where cool gambler-centric gifts like the Roulette Shot Glass Roulette drinking game, computers designed for online casino play, and lockable backpacks can be found. Below you’ll find six more gifts and gadgets fit the gambler in your life, and remember, these items can be given 365 days of the year whenever you’re feeling generous.
A Collection of Classic Gambling-Themed Hollywood Hits
I may be dating myself a bit here, but as a kid, I used to love waking up on Christmas morning to find a few large rectangular packages under the tree.
With their distinctive height and weight, I always knew these gifts were VHS tapes of my favorite movies… but I never knew which flicks I was going to find. That anticipation made adding new movies to my collection an experience to savor, so I slowly pulled the wrapping off one inch at a time to extend the reveal.
I’m all grown up now (and then some), but I still love collecting my favorite movies and exploring new cinema I’ve yet to discover before. Of course, the digital age has converted collections like these to Netflix libraries and the like – I still rock the Blu-Ray discs myself, sue me… – but movies still make for a great gift.
And that’s especially true for fans of casino gambling lore, Las Vegas history, and the Wild West poker games of old. If you know somebody who can’t get enough of the gambler’s lifestyle, even when they haven’t played a hand in a while, I have a few choice selections to get their new collection started.
Naturally, no legitimate casino movie collection can begin without Martin Scorsese’s gritty retrospective Casino (1995). Filmed with the iconic director’s signature tracking shots, snappy Mafioso dialogue, and a hefty helping of brutal mob violence, Casino tells the tale of Sam “Ace” Rothstein and his Tangiers casino empire. Rothstein’s story was based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, a mob-connected bookie who turned the Fremont and other casinos into money-making engines for his backers back home.
Other favorites of mine from the Las Vegas gambling genre include Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Gambler (1974), Rain Man (1988), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), The Cooler (2003), 21 (2008), The Hangover (2009), and Molly’s Game (2017).
If you want to expand the collection to include historical gambling content, check out The Hustler (1961), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), The Sting (1973), The Color of Money (1986), Maverick (1994), Rounders (1998), and either version of Casino Royale (1967 or 2006).
A Genuine Decommissioned Slot Machine
These bad boys will set you back a bit more than a few flicks, but if your loved one loves nothing more than slots or slot machine history, a used machine can be quite the treat.
Most casinos cycle through their older slot machines, updating to new makes and models along the way. And when they pull a machine off the floor, enterprising casino operators “flip” them to specialty retailers who the sell them at a markup.
You’ll be looking at a bill between $1,500 and $2,000 for the most part, with classic slots like Buffalo, Hot Shot Progressive, and Double Diamond 2000 easily located via simple online search.
When buying a slot machine specifically, you should realize that the gift will practically serve as more of a decoration or memento than anything else. Maybe it’s your giftee’s favorite game, or the one they once won that big jackpot on way back when, but the choice will largely be sentimental rather than utilitarian.
After all, they can’t exactly use the machine to improve their strategies, as slots are purely a game of chance at heart. And indeed, spinning away coin after coin, only to “win” a jackpot that can’t be paid out isn’t really the idea in the first place.
A Genuine Decommissioned Video Poker Machine
For the video poker crowd, legitimate Game King machines from the IGT gaming company are also readily available on reseller sites.
The iconic Game King machines come equipped with all of your favorite variants, from Jacks or Better to Deuces Wild and Double Double Bonus. Even better, video poker fanatics can parlay their new ownership of a Game King into endless hours of actual practice.
Remember, video poker is a skill-based game in which a player’s knowledge of basic strategy directly influences their overall expected return. In other words, skilled players who know all the right moves win more money (and lose less of it) than your average tourist in off the street.
With a basic strategy guide pulled up on their phone, and a bucket of quarters at the ready for old time’s sake, the recipient of a Game King machine can go to work improving their basic strategy skills.
Then, when they know for a fact that they’ll be playing perfectly, they can head out and try to track down those elusive Royal Flush jackpots armed with every available edge.
Personalized Playing Cards for Their Home Poker Game
The “poker boom” of 2003-2006 has long since passed, so you won’t see Daniel Negreanu on TV bluffing with Big Slick on a baby card board anytime soon.
Even so, plenty of casual poker fans are out there today hosting home poker games. These games can range from impromptu duels between family members after dinner, to recurring weekly events that attract few dozen participants. In any event, poker is still “America’s Game” when it comes to cards – which is why personalized decks are so much fun.
Several sites out there specialize in printing up customized 52-card decks based on designs of their clients’ choosing. You could gift your cousin a deck which comes complete with their portraits in place of the royalty on Jacks, Queens, and Kings (reserving your face for the Ace of course). Or maybe you create personalized deck based on your recipient’s pet project or passion.
This gift rewards creativity, so remember the old maxim “it’s the thought that counts.” Think hard about what sort of deck will make their day, then sit down and tinker with the design templates until you come up with a magical 52-card lineup.
The American Casino Guide Coupon Booklet
Available on Amazon for less than your average Las Vegas buffet plate, the “American Casino Guide Coupon Booklet” is a great grab for budget-conscious gamblers.
I recommend coupling this gift with Bourie’s larger “American Casino Guide,” which eschews coupons for comprehensive coverage of America’s wider gambling scene. Essentially, this book guides the reader through every commercial and tribal casino in the country, providing need to know facts and figures about the property, gaming floor stats, and contact information.
A Sharp Tailored Outfit and a Nice Pair of Shoes
Check out any of those movies I mentioned earlier and you’ll notice the protagonists largely have one thing in common – they’re dressed to the nines.
If you want your loved one to look their best the next time they hit the casino floor, bestowing a bespoke outfit and a matching pair of shoes is the best way to go. Obviously, this is a pricier gift than many of the other options on the list, but it’ll last a lifetime when done right.
You can go with the classic sophisticated James Bond look, or the more subdued modern stylings of Danny Ocean, whatever style fits your recipient best.
Giving to the ones we love most is a cherished tradition this time of year, no matter a person’s religious beliefs or holiday traditions. Simply recognizing what somebody you care about needs, but never knew they wanted, is a thrilling experience when pulled off right.
If you have a gambling fan in your life, their hobby’s inclusive nature can often make this a difficult ask though. After all, the world of casino gamblers is eclectic to say the least. Knowing that, I hope the lists provided make gift-giving easier this year, and in years to come.