Protecting your hand in poker is of the utmost importance—just ask Estelle Denis—and the best way to do so is to cap your cards. To accomplish this, players either use a chip off their stack or bring their own card guard. While the former group tend to frown upon the latter, card guards can be found at almost every poker table.
Card guards have been around for about as long as the game has existed, but they really took off after the poker boom in 2003. That is when players began to get creative by using pretty much anything under the sun to protect their cards. Some of the more famous card guards throughout the years have been Greg Raymer’s trademark fossil, Steven Dannenmann’s globe and Doyle Brunson’s Casper the Ghost (which was actually the Ghostbusters logo) lighter.
While you might see a card guard or two every time you sit down at a poker table, you might not realize the sheer variety that exists in the world today. Enter Gerald "SKULLMAN" David, who has taken it upon himself to establish a collection of card guards that he shares with the world on www.cardguardgallery.com.
PokerNews recently sat down with Gerald, who resides in the United Kingdom, to talk about his enthusiasm for card guards, his extensive collection and which are the most prized in his assemblage.
PokerNews: Why are you enthusiastic about card guards?
Gerald: Whilst playing in a high-value freezeout tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Iwas in Seat 1 and was under the gun with pocket tens. I raised preflop, there was a caller in Seat 6, and the small blind reraised. I flat-called the reraise, as did the player in Seat 6. The flop was . Again the small blind made a bet of approximately 75% of the chips that were already in the pot. I just flat called, as did Seat 6.
Whilst I had been intently watching what action was taking place by the other two players, after having placed my bet, I had not noticed the dealer muck my cards, as they were unprotected and did not have a card guard on top of them. Unfortunately, the rules of poker state that once your cards hit the muck, your hand is dead. I declared my annoyance to the dealer, but there was nothing further I could do. If I had protected my cards with a card guard, the likelihood is that my two cards would not have been taken by the dealer and I would have gone on to win a very large pot as the other two players placed large bets on the turn and river.
How did your card guard collection start?
I have been fortunate enough to play in various tournaments that have included players from almost every continent, and as a result of players seeing my card guard or me seeing players using legitimate or other items as guards, a conversation has been struck up between us on the subject. That is how the collection started six years ago.
Almost anything goes for a card guard, from miniature lucky charms, sharks, cartoon characters, animals, framed photos of the family, musical instruments, pebbles, various modes of transport, coins, medals, etc.
While leisurely looking on eBay at card guards, I came across many unofficial card guards but few that were from officially run tournaments and casino poker rooms. It was at this juncture that I decided to see if I could gradually build up a collection of card guards from past and present poker tournaments, poker rooms, leagues and sponsors. In my quest to build up the collection, which now exceeds 700 items, I have managed to obtain a variety of examples, a few of which are the only ones that I have come across.
Aside from protecting cards, what other value does a guard have?
I believe a card guard is an instrument that every poker player should use; it also acts as a very good tool for advertising purposes. As a result of poker players using them on the table during live games and also with the popularity of poker being seen regularly on the TV and with live streaming on the Internet, they all give their sponsors and casinos fantastic free exposure.
It is quite apparent that some poker sponsors and poker rooms have realized the importance of this form of advertising more than others. Many poker websites offer specific card guards in their stores, which can be purchased with player points. Meanwhile, the live poker tournament sponsors also produce card guards for specific tournaments and give them out in a variety of ways.
Can you tell us a little more about your collection?
I have been fortunate enough to make some very interesting contacts since I started collecting and I have come across and acquired a very wide variety of card guards. The World Series of Poker has issued various card guards for their WSOP Circuit tournaments and also card guards and dealer buttons for their Las Vegas tournaments, even individually numbering some for events held at the Rio Casino.
In my opinion, to date PokerStars has produced the best range of card guards and recognized their importance to the player more than any other poker organization and produced ones that are both heavy enough to act as a true card guard and in most instances, also give details of the tournament that they represent on both the front and reverse sides.
It is amazing how quickly the collection has mushroomed over a period of just six years, as I initially set up the website with the intention of displaying the collection only and finding out as much information as I could about each one of the card guards shown. If any of you can assist me and fill in the spaces with information about any of the displayed card guards, I would really like to hear from you? Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the most prized pieces in your collection?
The most prized card guard in my collection is the First Annual World Series of Poker 1970 Horseshoe Casino Legendary (Silver). Other Card Guards of interest on www.cardguardgallery.com are:
Legendary Horseshoe Casino: Commemorates the First Annual World Series of Poker in 1970
2006 WSOP DEALER Button, Numbered 0001
2007 WSOP DEALER TOURNAMENT CERTIFIED, Numbered 001
POKER STARS 2004, 2005 & 2007 (Silver) Card Guards, given out to Winners of their On-Line Satellite’s for the WSOP Main Event.
The ORLEANS 2000 Tournament of Champions of Poker (Silver)
FITZWILLIAM Casino & Card Club (SILVER) dating back to 2005 – The Fitzwilliam commissioned a Silver Smith in Dublin to manufacture these especially for them.
CAESARS PALACE Las Vegas 2007 – The first one issued by the Casino Poker Room
AUSTRALIAN POKER LEAGUE - Tournament Winner 2007, Ace of Spades (Silver in Colour) – Issued prior to the APL ‘Royal Flush’ series of Poker Card Guards.
To peruse even more rare card guards, visit www.cardguardgallery.com.
*Lead photo courtesy of shop.pokermedia.cz.