Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Poker Writer Who Never Plays Poker

2005 World Series of Poker
Poker writer? Well, not exactly. Never play poker? Well, sometimes. Let me explain.

For eleven years I was more a poker promoter than a poker writer, although I frequently used my writing to promote the game. I was employed by an online gaming company and served as head of a marketing team encouraging players, veterans and novices alike, to play poker. We made our money collecting rake and tournament fees.

One of the best ways to get newcomers into the game, we found, was to call on them to follow the examples of Moneymaker and Raymer. After all, these professionals began their careers playing online. One could gain the necessary game skills on the internet and the only way to achieve success, we insisted, was to play poker in our online rooms. For a time, we were doing quite well in this mission.

In this capacity I reported on poker tournaments. I interviewed players, known and unknown. I traveled. I met Doyle Brunson and he gave me an autographed copy of his book. Day by day, I wrote about the game of poker.

The ultimate goal, our promotional efforts suggested, was playing in the World Series of Poker. After a short time working at the gaming company I accompanied five young players to Las Vegas. As they took to their tables for their first experiences of tournament play, I stood behind the ropes. I rejoiced with them when they made big pots. I felt their pain when they lost a bet and when, one by one they busted.

I was invited to sit down and join the action at a charity event, raising money for some good cause, the nature of which I no longer recall. I sat down next to professionals and famous personalities. Film and television stars were in the room. I had my picture taken with “Everyone Loves Raymond” star Brad Garrett. I won a few hands, I lost a few, and then I was eliminated. I came in 34th in the tournament. I had played in the World Series of Poker! A dream come true!

2008 Asian Poker Tour in Macau
Except, it was never my dream. During my career promoting poker, I did not play much poker. There were the few hours I spent online and offline in company poker tournaments. And there was a memorable hour playing at a cash game in Macau when I came away from the tables with a $700 profit. Except, those were Hong Kong Dollars not worth all that much.

You see, I am not really a poker player. I did not grow up playing the game. I can barely remember if a flush is better than a straight, or if it is the other way around. I don’t understand the strategy, the math. I don’t have a poker face; I cannot bluff. More than anything else, I don’t have the patience to sit at a table for hours on end waiting for the good cards.

I am not a poker player but for many years I proved myself to be quite a capable poker writer. And for me, that’s just fine.

Originally published on Cardplayer Lifestyle.

Related article:

The Day I Traveled to China and Got Doyle Brunson's Autograph

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