There was no “five-year plan,” I can assure you. There wasn’t even a second-post plan, to be honest.
I had brooded a while over what to call the sucker, and somewhere along the way thought up the Shamus character behind whom I’d sort-of-hide for the first part of the blog’s history.
I’ve written before here about how I’d begun with an idea to write about poker -- primarily my own low-limit misadventures -- while employing the “hard-boiled” style of the detective novels I loved (and eventually tried to follow in my own novel). It only took a few weeks to discover I couldn’t keep firing out posts about gathering scratch and setting up patsies and running grifts while keeping a straight face. So, much as players eventually find the style that suits them best, I soon settled into a more reasonable “voice” with which to continue.
The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in October also affected the direction of the blog. I’d scribbled some about the WSOP that summer and other items in the poker “world” not having to do with my own circumscribed experiences. But now there was lots else for a blogger identifying himself as an “online poker player” to consider.
On April 28, 2007, I was in the midst of publishing a series of posts about a trip to Vegas with Vera Valmore. Posts from that trip described (in absurdly comprehensive detail) some low limit sessions, meeting cool cats like Paul Seldon (one of the very first readers of HBP), Tom Schneider (who’d go on to become the WSOP POY that summer), Wade Andrews (of Hold’em Radio), and Howard Schwartz (proprietor of the Gamblers Book Shop), and an especially entertaining ride on the Deuce titled “What Happens In Vegas Gets Spread All Over the Internet.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Vegas, but it was still a place full of new experiences for me. Had no idea at the time that before long I would be spending entire summers there.
Wasn’t long after those Vegas trip posts I got recruited by John Caldwell and Haley Hintze (then) of PokerNews to help out with some articles over there that summer while the first-string scribes were away to cover the WSOP. That association continued afterwards, and eventually led to my joining the team of bloggers at the WSOP the following year.
On April 28, 2008, I wrote a post titled “Celebrating Seconds” in which I commemorated the blog’s second anniversary with an account of a runner-up finish in a “Saturdays With Pauly” PLO tournament.
Looking back at that post causes me to think that it came at a time when I was probably enjoying playing poker more than I ever had before or perhaps even since. I was also enjoying writing about poker, and excited about the opportunities I getting to write more.
On April 28, 2009, the blog’s anniversary came and went without my even noticing. My post that day was titled “Time Is Money; or, the Return of the Waiting Game.” (Maybe I was in a hurry and hadn’t the time for sitting around celebrating birthdays.) The post followed up an earlier, much-viewed one sharing a story from that year’s SCOOP involving Daniel Negreanu complaining about opponents stalling as the cash bubble neared.
On April 28, 2010, I was just about to leave my full-time job to focus entirely on freelance writing. I’d made the decision many months before, but it would be a couple of days later (on May 1) that the move would become official.
Not too surprising to see I was in an especially self-reflective mood on that day, as evidenced by the post “Detour: Four Years of Hard-Boiled Poker.” That one tells the story of the blog fairly well, if you’re at all curious about that.
Speaking of telling my story, earlier this week I had the chance to do so in an interview with Mike Owens over on CheckRaze. And tonight I happen to be appearing as a guest on “Keep Flopping Aces,” the podcast hosted by Lou Krieger and Shari Geller. (The timing there is coincidental -- it was “Black Friday” and all that has happened since that I’ve been invited to discuss on KFA, not this here blog.)
If you’re interested in hearing the show, it starts at 9 p.m. Eastern time tonight (Thursday, 4/28) over at Rounder’s Radio. You can listen live, and later the show will be archived.
Events of the last couple of weeks had caused me to think about this fifth anniversary of the blog a little differently. I’ll admit I even had a moment -- a couple of days after “Black Friday” -- where I thought maybe this would be a fitting place to write a final post and move on to devote more time and energy to other, non-poker writing. Or perhaps to announce my intention to scale back and post less regularly. After all, I have posted every weekday here since January 1, 2008 (and on some weekends, too).
But it seems after five years of this there’s more to write about than ever before. Even if, as an American with no money in accounts that haven’t been shut down by the feds, that “an online poker player” descriptor is currently inaccurate.
So the scribbling will continue.
Can’t begin to say how appreciative I am of everyone -- all of the way back to my buddy Paul who came on here back in June 2006 to say “Nice blog shamus. Keep up the good work!!!” -- who has spent time reading and responding to all these many “musings” over the past five years.
As I was writing about earlier this week, the blog has led to a lot of interesting, exciting opportunities for me over the years. But most importantly it has been the means by which I’ve gotten to know countless people -- including many amazing, creative, funny, smart people I today unhesitatingly list among my closest friends.
Thanks again, everybody. I’m so grateful this here blog enabled us to get together.