Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Recreational Poker Writer

For a couple of months now I’ve been aware of an anniversary of sorts coming up on the calendar. No, I’m not talking about me and Vera’s anniversary (although that’s coming up, too). Rather a poker-related one.

It was exactly 10 years ago today I wrote my first article for PokerNews.

I’d been writing on this blog for over a year by then. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I believe that PN article had to have been the first poker-related bit of scribbling for which I’d ever been paid. Which means, in turn, it represents the first, tiny indicator of what would become a big life pivot about four years after that -- away from full-time teaching and into full-time freelancing.

The article was a short one, just five paragraphs -- “Poker Bill Fails to Pass Louisiana House.” Pretty standard stuff, and the kind of thing we’d end up reading (and some of us writing) over and over for the entire decade that followed.

But even if I might look back with ambivalence (and even a little cynicism) at such a slight morsel of reporting, I do remember the excitement at seeing something I’d written show up on the site.

I’d placed some articles in academic journals, wrote columns and book reviews for The Charlotte Observer, and even had some poems published before (no shinola). But this was something new and different.

Like a lot of poker “enthusiasts” then (and now), I couldn’t get enough of poker -- playing the game, thinking about it, reading about it, and writing about it.

Getting paid even just a little for a poker article offered the same sort of thrill as winning those first few real money pots when playing online. In neither case did I think a career was in the offing, but both involved realizing a small profit from doing something that was already fun and intellectually stimulating.

I have Haley Hintze and John Caldwell to thank (again) for having recruited me to write that first article way back when. And a ton of other folks thereafter for giving me opportunities and helping guide me to become more than just a “recreational” poker writer.

Even now, so many years later, it doesn’t seem like a “regular” gig, even if that’s what it has been for quite a while. The constant flux of the poker world -- with people always coming and going -- is one obvious reason for that feeling, I’m sure.

But another is the fact that there’s still a lot of “play” involved when doing such “work.” And that’s a very good thing, whatever your job is.

Photo: courtesy Carlos Monti / PokerStars blog.

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