Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Die, Poker Blogs, Die!

Haven't played much poker of late, or really done much of anything other than work, work, work, drive, work, drive, work, work, drive, drive, watch a tiny amount of football, and work. Which kind of sucks but it does make the time fly by.

I did sneak in a few sessions at the 10/20 HORSE tables at PokerStars, pretty much breaking even despite a really ugly Stud/8 hand. Seemed to be the ideal set-up, as I thought the guy to my left with (x)(x) 5 3 was overplaying his low/straight draw, and that the insanely overaggresive guy to my right was trapped in the middle, with his (x)(x) Q 10. I kept pumping in more raises with (K)(K) 4 K, guy to my left kept re-raising, and overaggressive guy kept calling. Which was well and dandy, except the guy to my left actually had (3)(3) 5 3, and rivered quad 3s, spanking me despite the fact that I filled up. Doh.

Speaking of poker, lo and behold, this humble poker blog turned two years old in August and I didn't even notice. 'Tis kind of crazy to think I've been doing this for two years, as in many ways that time has flown by, yet it also seems like a million years ago when I started up this poker blog type thing.

A few posts of late have been floating around assorted haunts about the death of poker blogs, which I agree with and disagree with. Mainly disagree with, I suppose, but I definitely agree that the times, they are a changin', which can easily be seen as a death of sorts.

Poker blogs are a weird beast. Most people blogging about poker started blogging because of poker, and previously weren't of the blogging bent. And, at the same time, most people are relatively new to poker itself when they start a poker blog. True, not always the case, but I think it applies in more cases than not.

So you've got all this unbridled enthusiasm spilling all the hell over the place, springing up from two different sources. Three sources, even, if you turn the clock back two or three years, when poker was even more boomtacular, and fresh-faced, excited poker bloggers could look around and see all sorts of other people in exactly the same fresh-faced, excited state, with a limitless tower of chips to be won stacked well into the clouds. Not only can the game be cracked and you can gather many thousands of American dollars to your heaving bosom, but the road map is right there, right in front of you!

And then that great equalizer of reality steps in, slowly, over time. You go from rushing home to play after work and voraciously refreshing blogs in the off chance that they might have posted something new in the last 0.27 seconds to, you know, jogging home to play after work, and only checking your favorite blogs three or four times a day. You go from posting every minute detail of your poker journey on a daily basis to only blogging the highlights (or lowlights).

You're still playing tons of hands and thinking about poker an inordinate amount of time, but you're also slowly becoming aware of the slightly darker nature of the poker beast. It's neither inherently good nor bad to be consumed by something, but it always exacts a toll, as you unfortunately aren't sitting on an endless supply of time or energy. You can feed it for awhile, and feed it gladly, but for the vast majority of us the whole thing starts to pick up odd vibrations and rattles. Something is askew, somewhere.

If you keep playing and manage not to go busto, you likely move up in limits. But more than likely not that far. Because poker is much harder than you ever thought, and the price to be a big time balla at mid/high limits is pretty large, as far as both the time consumed and the psychological fortitude necessary to endure the natural swings. Most bloggers, when faced with the above, settle into a comfortable zone where they play lots of poker (often grinding out decent profits), but not with an eye of constantly moving up limits until they butt heads with the Phil Ivey's of the world.

One side effect of that is that you slowly stop looking to other blogs for strategy, hints, and tips. It doesn't mean that you stop reading poker blogs, because you don't. You just don't read them with an eye towards unlocking hidden riches and potential talents lurking in your poker skillz. You don't enjoy poker any less, it just starts to dawn on you that no matter how many blogs you read you're still going to struggle with how to play 1010 from EP, and that any poker you play at the Bellagio is going to be when you're on vacation from work, life, or both.

Your own blog starts to shift, too, as you post less and less about poker strategy, and detail fewer and fewer hands. You stop posting every day, and might even go a week or two between posts. You eventually reach a tipping point where (either consciously or unconsciously) you have to shit or get off the poker blog pot. Or the third option (which actually is the most common), which is to pick up a new magazine to thumb through while on the crapper.

Lots of people just get off the pot, blog goes dark, the end. A few continue to solider on, taking regular poker dumps, but that's pretty rare. Some people (and I lump myself in this camp), find a way to angle around the issue, still incorporating some poker content but also finding another hook, such as my endless poker/casino/sportsbook scheming.

It's the third option that's the most interesting, and to me, most encouraging. What do you do with a poker blog that's evolved to the point where it's not really about poker anymore? You turn it into a real blog, about a real person. You start blogging about you. Which is infinitely more interesting than postulating about how much you should raise with AK on the button preflop in a 6 max NL game with one limper in front of you.

The interesting part is that many of my favorite poker blogs/bloggers that have weathered the test of time really weren't ever poker blogs to begin with, to a large extent. I mean, sure, Pauly, Otis, BG, Linda, Maudie, and MeanGene write about poker (and play poker), but poker has never been the sole focus of their efforts. They're just damn good writers who happen to talk about poker, or use poker as a launchng pad for what they really want to talk about.

And yeah, sure, you can argue semantics and say that a blog that doesn't live and breathe poker 24/7 isn't a true poker blog, but that's a boring argument. It also begs the question of why you'd wish such a thing to ever exist in the first place, as there's nothing that'll cause your eyes to glaze over more quickly than hand history after hand history after hand history.

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying, no, I don't think poker blogs are dying. I just think there's a shelf life for most poker blogs, after which they either die or morph into something much different, usually something much more personal and akin to a "traditional" blog (whatever the hell a "traditional" blog is). I don't think a blog making that journey becomes any less a poker blog, even if a person completely and utterly abandons poker, as it's more the process, beginning to end, that defines it, methinks.

But, in the end, who the hell cares, as all this babbling is pretty much pointless navel-gazing. If you've grown weary of blogging, stop blogging. If it bugs you that all the good poker blogs are dying, post better content to your own poker blog to make up the difference. If you're tired of reading yet another bad beat hand history, don't read blogs that consist of bad beat hand histories. Kind of simple, really, in the end.


Unknown said...

Hammer, meet head of nail.

I think I post maybe two paragraphs a week about poker now, and still enjoy rambling about nothing in particular.

I don't see going dark anytime soon, not that many would notice.

Irritable Male Syndrome said...

Ding, ze winner!

Todd said...

Well said, Grasshopper.

Dave said...

Amen brother!

WillWonka said...

Yeah, what he said

ZeRat11 said...

Great post. I'm at the two year mark myself give or take a few days, and was thinking about writing something along these lines. Of course mine wouldn't have been nearly as well written or thought out.

Funny thing is when I first started reading your blog I wasn't a big fan, because you kept throwing in all this non-poker crap. Now its one of my favorits and one of the few remaining blogs that I still try to read everyday.

Good luck on year #3

23skidoo said...

Nice one!

kurokitty said...

And all along I thought that it was ScurvyRat's time to shine. Instead, he's standing on the shore like those Cubans did at the Bay of Pigs.

Ignatious said...

excellent post scurvy.

i'm going to start blogging about my lunches.

Maudie said...

well said, scurv. (and ignatius should blog about his lunch - he's a foodie and a cook! hah!)

The Bracelet said...

Great Post.

I think you captured what happens quite well. I always found it funny that I've always been considered part of the poker blogging community, despite barely playing and writing about said playing even less.

For my money, anything can be interesting when it's written by a great writer. However, even great writers can get boring if they never stray from one or two subjects.

sooted said...

Good post.

I've loved reading your blog ever since I found it. And as some othes have said, I enjoy your non-poker stuff as much as your poker stuff. And I like the way you write.

So far mine is still just poker, but that may be because I have a different blog that I put regular life junk in. I wanted one separate that was just about poker - for a number of reasons that don't matter now. And I've been a less-frequent poster from the beginning, not really thinking that people cared about the detail crap. Good to see I wasn't wrong there. I just try to post when something interesting has happened in a game and such.

Anyway, thanks for the time you spend blogging and keep up the good work.

TripJax said...

I'm pretty sure you just robbed a portion of my brain to write this post. You were nailing it on the head yo.

Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Coherent and concise. Not things I aspire to in my own writing, but I appreciate it other people.

As one late to the scene, I consider all the current "poker blogs are dying/should die" laments to be laconic murmurings from people bored by their own writing.

I can't control what anyone else is up to, but I definitely enjoy putting my crap out - well aware it is meaningless, silly and ultimately futile.

Hell, that's half my motivation.

Wwonka said...

Nice post


ScottMcM said...

I wish I wrote this.

I bow to your greatness.

I would have commented quicker but I only read POKER blogs once a week:)

Rod said...

Interesting - I know that I do post less on poker but I do say somethign every single day (since I play every single day) about how I feel about the game.

That is why I started in the first place. to show people the mood swings an every day player goes through.

What I HAVe found interesting is something you mention and that is how many poker blogs go dark once the writer/player see's he is not a winner.

I am also at ABOUT the 2 year mark and still manage a blog 5 out of 7 days a week BUT - it's tough some days.

Standing ovulation on the post!