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Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. As family and friends gather during the holiday season, what are some of the favorite foods poker players are filling up their plates with? We caught up with Jeremy Ausmus, Shannon Shorr, 'Boston' Rob Mariano, Felipe 'mojave14' Ramos, Vince Van Patten, and Mike Sexton about their favorite holiday eats. "I grew up on this family recipe of homemade rolls that are phenomenal," Ausmus, a WSOP gold bracelet winner with more than $6 million in live tournament earnings, said. "I think it's about all I ate as a kid at holiday dinners. Now, I make them. Fresh out of the oven, with butter - nothing is better." Shorr recently relocated to Las Vegas from Alabama, and we're hoping he packed the recipe for his aunt's holiday dish that was his all-time favorite because it sounds like a great one. "Growing up in Alabama, my all-time favorite holiday food had to be sweet potato casserole that my Aunt Pat made," Shorr said, "It was loaded with all the things a 14-year-old boy loves: pecans, chocolate, marshmallows. Unfortunately, I can't get away with eating like that anymore." Mariano, winner of Survivor: Redemption Island for $1 million who now frequents poker events around the world, does not disappoint when it comes to his family’s holiday meals. It's a two-day affair across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day featuring some delicious-sounding menu items. "I'm Italian, so there's no shortage of food around my house during the holidays," Mariano said. "Christmas Eve is usually reserved for seafood - everything from lobster to crab and the traditional Italian-style salted cod dish called Baccala. Then on Christmas Day, we always have some type of macaroni with a special homemade red sauce (gravy) and usually eggplant Parmesan, which is my wife’s favorite." Ramos, a Brazilian, is also accustomed to large holiday meals with family, but a recent lifestyle change has caused him to switch up from one holiday favorite to another. "Talking about tradition, my favorite food was always whatever my Grandma was cooking," Ramos said. "In Brazil, we are very attached to the family tradition, especially because we are Christians, so this date means a lot to us. As the world's second-largest meat producer (behind the USA), we are meat lovers and tradition always told us to have a turkey at the table and many more meat options. Recently, like two-and-a-half years from now, I have been trying to go vegan, knowing of the problems that meat production are causing to the world, and much more. I have made my transition to veganism now and I still love my family and friends, but my favorite meal is not meat anymore. My favorite foods are nuts and dried fruits, truly. I love all kinds, especially cashews and walnuts, figs and apricots. Roasted cauliflowers are part of my favorite meal, with a lot of spices. I think that will be my favorite holiday food from now on." For Van Patten, the energy behind bringing the World Poker Tour TV show into homes every single week, he said his family mixes it up but that he enjoys a little traditional simplicity. "We mix it up, but for tradition, it's turkey, dressing, popovers, and gravy," Van Patten said. Van Patten's former longtime partner in the WPT commentary booth for 15 years, Sexton, said he and his family enjoy doubling down on their Thanksgiving feast but with a little bit of a twist. "My favorite holiday food is Christmas dinner, which is the same at our house as Thanksgiving but we usually substitute ham for turkey," Sexton said. "Mmmmm!" Do you have a favorite holiday food? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Don’t forget to share the recipe so we can cook it up ourselves! Happy Holidays! *Photos courtesy of Run It Up and the World Poker Tour.
Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. It’s that special time of year and what better way to get in the festive spirit than to take a look around the poker world at some of the favorite holidays' traditions players celebrate with. This holiday season, we spoke with Phil Hellmuth, Mike Sexton, Maria Ho, Jonathan Little, and Jeff Gross. For Phil Hellmuth's holiday tradition, poker takes center stage. There's even a gold bracelet involved, according to the 15-time World Series of Poker champion, and it sounds as though the entire Hellmuth family knows how to win on the felt. "In the Hellmuth Family, all five of us (one brother and three sisters) would bring our families to Madison, Wisconsin, for Christmas," Hellmuth said. "We did this for 25 years! Then we would have the family poker championship, usually on the evening of the 24th. We even have a gold bracelet (pictured), with all of the winners’ names engraved. Nowadays, the family is too far flung to meet in Madison, but we still have the tourney whenever we get together. "My sister Kerry won it this year, in August, in Chicago. My son Phillip won it, I won it, my wife Kat won it. And my son Nick has three second-place finishes - ouch!" For Mike Sexton, longtime poker commentator, Poker Hall of Fame member, and now chairman of partypoker, he keeps it simple with the family. "My favorite tradition is the day we get the tree, put on Christmas music, and decorate the house," Sexton said. Sexton won’t be the only poker player celebrating the holidays in Las Vegas. Maria Ho and her family traditionally travel for the holidays to spend it together in a new place, but this year that place is Las Vegas. "My family has never been too into traditional gift giving for the holidays, but in our adult years we always make time to take a family vacation together," Ho said. "The destination changes, but this year the only place that really worked for all of us happens to be Las Vegas!" We’re sure that with all of the poker happening in Vegas during the first couple weeks of December, Ho will be in the mix quite a bit, so look for her to put up some poker results this holiday season in between time with her loved ones. Jonathan Little has a handful of reasons to celebrate this holiday season, and it’s more than just celebrating this wonderful time of the year. Little’s birthday and his son’s birthday both fall close to Christmas, and he and his wife are currently expecting another child. "Our tradition is to celebrate birthdays," Little said. "My birthday is December 22 and my son James' is December 24. I am having my second child any day now, so he will be born in December as well. I should go ahead and forget about celebrating mine from now on!" Lastly, Jeff Gross said his holiday tradition also involves a bit of travel, as he heads down to Brazil every year to visit with his wife’s side of the family. It comes with a special holiday twist, though, and Gross was introduced to a new meaning of "sweating" his first trip. "A holiday tradition has been to go to visit my wife’s family in Brazil," Gross said. "Each year, someone dresses up as Santa Claus for the nephews and nieces. In 2014, it was my first time there, which meant it was me! I was a bit nervous being the first time I met Emilia’s large family and I didn’t speak much Portuguese. I remember being in Brazil during Christmas (their summer) sweating in this Santa suit in front of what is now my Brazilian family and my youngest niece at the time crying when I came out (laughs)! It felt like a Southwest Wanna-Get-Away commercial at the time, but we had a good laugh after!" Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Happy Holidays! *Photos courtesy of the WPT.
Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. It's that time of year again when gift givers scramble to pick the perfect gift for the poker player in their life. While it's impossible to give the gift every poker player really want - a healthy dose of run good, we have done our best to assemble gift ideas that show that you truly understand how deep their devotion to the game is. Not everything on this list is going to be for everyone and they won’t all be great stocking stuffers. But if you want a gift someone (or even yourself) with some killer poker presents this year here’s a few items we like. [caption id="attachment_621555" align="alignnone" width="768"] Both Kem and Faded Spade make high-quality 100% plastic coated playing cards.[/caption] Kem/Faded Spade Cards Sick of playing with cards that resemble disposable napkins like you do at some poker rooms/festivals? Want a deck that looks and feels great in your hand as you turn over the nuts in a bloated pot? Kem branded cards are widely considered a top-tier brand of plastic cards and have been around for decades. They are 100% plastic giving them a great shelf life and have a classic look that will add some class to any home game. If you want something a little more modern, Faded Spade has introduced an updated four color deck to mimic the online poker look. Faded Spade is also 100% plastic for durability and they have a non-traditional, pretty cool illustration design for the face cards. You can get a two deck set of either brand for roughly $25. [caption id="attachment_621556" align="alignnone" width="768"] AirPods are great for when poker players are on the go. Sennheiser is a high quality over the ear headphone for the online grind.[/caption] Apple AirPods Some poker players and poker industry influencers are not really looking to promote images of a hoodied young pro plugged into their headphones, taking down pots while ignoring the table. It’s understandable, a table full of players not engaging with other, obsessed with their own media does not a “fun” game make. However, sometimes you just gotta grind. Downswinging is real and you can’t always be the affable storyteller making sure all the recs are having a blast. What you need is some “you” time at the table where you turn up your best motivational playlist, pop in some wireless headphones and get down to business. Apple AirPods are becoming a top choice for poker players due to their convenience and the ability to keep your head on a swivel, following the action, without all the wires. They sound great, allow you to move around easily and have a little more discretion than a large pair of headphones. AirPods can be picked up for around $100-$150. For the online grinder in your life, getting them a pair of great sounding headphones is a great idea. If you are looking for a suggestion here, a classic pair of Sennheiser 650 Open Back is a five-star choice and can be found for around $320 online. Honorable mention in this category: get a Spotify or Apple Music paid subscription because listening to commercials is not GTO. [caption id="attachment_621557" align="alignnone" width="768"] PokerGo's $10/mo price tag might be the best pure value in poker.[/caption] PokerGO This is a no-brainer. A yearly subscription to PokerGO will have the poker fan in your life glued to their computer (or mobile device) watching the biggest names in the game playing for the highest stakes imaginable. From the revamped Poker After Dark to the heady play in the Super High Roller Bowl, there’s always fresh content on the streaming service and it’s super cheap. $10 a month cheap or you can get a yearly subscription for as little as $89. [caption id="attachment_621558" align="alignnone" width="768"] 50 pros detail their secrets for succeeding in the world of poker.[/caption] The Pursuit Of Poker Success by Lance Bradley Wait! Before you go accusing this writer of being a homer (I am) read this. There are a ton of poker books out there - most of which focus on getting better at the game. Bradley’s The Pursuit of Poker Success has a unique slant unlike any other poker book out there. It talks to 50 of the most long-lived, success cash game and tournament players in history and has them discuss what it means to be a successful poker player. It’s more than how to play AK to a three-bet, it’s more than a simple mindset book (there are good ones for this category too) - the text reads like a motivational blueprint for upping your game from the inside out. Bradley’s book, along with a ton of amazing poker texts can be found at D&B poker. Paperback runs $29.95, ebook $19.99. [caption id="attachment_621559" align="alignnone" width="768"] If you are going to wear sunglasses at the table, wear good ones.[/caption] Ray-Ban Original Classic Wayfarers There’s been a movement in recent years to remove sunglasses from the poker table. The look is, perhaps, a little cliche and could even be intimidating to newer poker players. But here’s the real deal, for some players sunglasses are a security blanket that allows them to play their best game and hide whatever emotion is going on in their head. So we say if you are going to wear sunglasses at the table - look good doing it. There is no more classic, cool brand of sunglasses out there than a pair of RayBan’s Classic Wayfarer sunglasses. Dark lenses, sleek design and known for durability these are a pair of sunglasses that you’ll enjoy wearing away from the table when down in the Bahamas and you end up busting from the PSPC. You can fetch these in a number of designs all for around $150 online. [caption id="attachment_621560" align="alignnone" width="767"] Get your short stack game in good shape with SnapShove.[/caption] SnapShove App The SnapShove App, developed by poker pro Max Silver, is a guide to perfecting short stack play. It’s both a calculator to help players understand shoving ranges with particular stack depths. It’s also a training app that helps players make “perfect decisions every time.” Select how many players are at the table, what the big blind is, how many bigs you have left and your position. The app will give you what range of hands you should be looking to get in the middle profitably. It’s must-know concepts for all tournament players. SnapShove is available on both iOS and Android and the Pro version is only $14.99. [caption id="attachment_621561" align="alignnone" width="768"] A traveling poker player needs a good backpack to go along for the ride.[/caption] Alcatraz Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2 For the poker player who puts a ton of miles in traveling from tournament to tournament, a nice, reliable backpack is a necessity. As a carry-on item on flights and to store all their needs for a long day in the poker room, it’s great to have something that looks as good as it performs. The Custom Alcatraz Laptop back from Timbuk2 is perfect to tote around everything a poker player could want, including their laptop for when they are in countries and US States that allow for some online grinding. This rain resistant backpack allows for some killer stylistic customization. Pick this, and similar bags, up from direct from Timbuk2. The Alcatraz Laptop Backpack runs $144. [caption id="attachment_621562" align="alignnone" width="768"] Nowadays, a trip to the WSOP means much more than taking shots at a bracelet.[/caption] A Trip To The World Series of Poker If you really want to make a splash this holiday season, commit to sending that poker player in your life on what might be their first trip to the World Series of Poker. Now, we’re not suggesting that you withdraw a stack of high society and buy directly into the WSOP Main Event - not at all. While the actual WSOP is the grand attraction in Las Vegas during the summer, the surrounding properties including the ARIA, Wynn, Planet Hollywood and more run their own super series of tournaments and cash games. For a fraction of the Main Event buy-in, a player could book a cheap flight, stay in a decent hotel, grind tournaments for a few days and still get that rush of having been to the World Series of Poker. The only downside to a gift this grand is once a player makes their way to Vegas in the summer, they usually spend the rest of their poker lives trying to find a way back. Happy holidays!
Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. It would be nice to think that, as we grow older, the old adage of “it’s better to give than receive” is a feeling that most people come to embrace. That said, there’s an amazing feeling when the right person gives you the perfect gift. Quite often it’s not only the gift itself, but it’s the fact that there’s someone out there that knows you so well and wants nothing more than to make you happy. “This is a close one,” said PokerStars and WSOP broadcaster Joe Stapleton when thinking about the best gift he’s ever been given. “I’m gonna go with the original NES [Nintendo Entertainment System]. “Everyone on my block had one and my parents pretty much swore they weren’t going to get us one. Also, maybe Santa was still a thing then...I can’t remember. “When we finished opening our presents and the NES we so desperately wanted was not contained therein, we, my brother and I, did our best to hide our disappointment. We were good kids, (read: terrified of our parents), and it would have been rude and ungrateful to complain about not getting something for Christmas. Also, we were kinda genuinely good kids who didn’t want to make our parents feel bad.” However, not all hope was lost for Stapes. “My Grandma would always come over when we were done opening present for her non-Santa presents. You see where this is going so I’ll cut to the chase. She brought us the Nintendo. It was some real Red Rider BB Gun shit. We were thrilled.” New Jersey poker pro Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano has a similar story. For him, it was a gaming system that led him to a lifetime of playing games. “I would have to my favorite gift was when I got Nintendo 64. It was 1996, I was 11 and really into video games,” said Gags. “I had no idea what the N64 would bring. It was a video game system like I had never seen before. The games were amazing and I would spend the next seven years glued to it, playing every game imaginable. It really grew my interest and obsession with game and video games a ton, and probably is partly responsible for leading me to poker.” While some a gift may be an item that helped shape their future, for some, the best gifts of Christmas can’t be bought. Solve For Why coach and former PocketFives #1-ranked player Jordan Young didn’t have to think twice when recalling his perfect gift. “I have received the perfect Christmas gift,” Young said. “The best gift I ever received was from my parents and it was a memory book full of pictures of my dog, Doogan. That was the first time I ever received something and got emotional because I had just spent three years without him while I had moved abroad to play online poker.” For others that perfect gift isn’t an object at all. “It may sound a bit cheesy…” said partypoker Pro Kristen Bicknell “…but I think the true gift and magic of the holidays is being with family and loved ones. There really is something special and unique about the spirit of the season. One of my favorite things about Christmas that never fails is Christmas dinner. It’s definitely the best meal of the year.” World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage’s favorite gift falls in line with that sentiment. “My favorite gift has always been spending time with family. This year is going to be a tough one as my father recently passed away,” Savage said. “Christmas was his favorite holiday. He made every Christmas special when I was young with gifts I never needed but wanted. I always enjoy giving more than receiving and the perfect gift is the one that makes Maryann [his wife] smile.” Still looking for that perfect gift to give the poker player in your life? We have some suggestions to make their eyes light up with The Definitive Poker Player Holiday Gift Guide.