It’s true. Ten years ago today, inspired by other poker bloggers, some podcasts, and a love of poker and writing, I decided on a whim to begin this blog. No shinola.
I write today from the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. I suppose ten years ago I could have imagined coming here for some other reason, perhaps. Vera Valmore and I did spend a whole year in France once before, during which we loved visiting Nice. But I couldn’t have then pictured a scenario where I’d be here writing about poker.
Nor would I have imagined going other places to do the same, as I’ve done a lot over recent years. And all because of this here blog. Amid my other posts on Hard-Boiled Poker, I’ve been submitting dispatches from tournaments all over the globe, including from Las Vegas, Ukraine, Peru, Morocco, Atlantic City, Uruguay, Macau, Pennsylvania, France, Connecticut, Florida, Spain, Niagara Falls, Chile, Canada, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Bahamas, Monaco, Brazil, Ireland, and even my home state of North Carolina (at Cherokee).
Such “Travel Reports” have been just part of the story, of course, among the 2,750 posts (including this one) that have appeared here. For the first five years (up through Black Friday), a lot of the focus was on my own low-limit poker adventures, mostly online. Other topics -- film, literature, music, television, politics, law, business, history, science, math, philosophy, psychology, and (more recently) life on a farm -- have been the focus of all of this relentless scribbling, too, with all of them somehow having something to do with poker the blog's leitmotiv, poker.
It was around Black Friday most of the other poker blogs all started going away. Their fading began a couple of years before, really, mostly in direct correlation to the rise of Twitter. I got my @hardboiledpoker account in 2009, and it was then most of the seats at the blogging tables began emptying in earnest. Still a few of us grinding along, though, for some reason finding it necessary to communicate in chunks lasting more than a sentence or two at at time.
The blog started as a hobby, then quickly became an unexpected entry into a large, fun, exciting community of others also enthusiastic about poker -- and about writing and reading about poker. Then came other opportunities and eventually a second, unexpected career for me, a life twist I described several years ago in a post called “Detour.”
The title of that post was an homage to the 1945 hard-boiled film starring Tom Neal as a down-on-his-luck hitchhiker. Neal’s character takes an unforeseen turn in that story, as did my own. I certainly didn’t see such a change coming ten years ago, back when I invented this “Short-Stacked Shamus” character and borrowed Neal’s image to use as a kind of avatar for it.
A “shamus” is a detective. And his being “short-stacked” suggests a down-on-his-luck context for his sleuthing, as though his situation mirrors in some way the desperate one Neal’s character (who becomes kind of a detective) endures in the film.
None of that really describes me or the adventure on which this blog has carried me. No, I’ve run especially well here, and it’s all thanks to those of you who have stopped by now and then or perhaps even more consistently. Friendly and generous responses kept me writing in the beginning. Continued good feedback kept me going in the middle. And the knowledge that some are still coming around even ten years on has kept me at it still today.
Thanks to everyone for making all of this traveling around -- both out into the world and the inner traveling that necessarily happens with every post -- so enjoyable for me. No shinola.