Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An Existential Pause

A very interesting conversation on this week’s episode of Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio between Cincinnati Sean and Iggy, a.k.a. “The Blogfather.” Iggy, of course, is the man behind the always-readable Guinness and Poker blog. His “uberposts” -- massive blog entries compiling tons of (mostly) poker-related material and links -- are well worth the time. (If you haven’t been there, check it out.) The pair touched on a number of topics during their wide-ranging dialogue, including the relative worth of participating in poker affiliate programs, the recent gathering of the World Poker Blogger Tour in Vegas, the progress of H.R. 4411 (the version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act that recently passed through the House), the recent lawsuit brought by seven prominent pros against the WPT, and the implications of CardPlayer’s status as the “exclusive content provider” for the WSOP this year.

That latter topic -- about how poker gets talked about and reported on -- led Sean to ask Iggy to comment on the current and future state of poker blogging. Iggy suggested that pros like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth having their own blogs surely indicated poker blogs had moved from the periphery to the “mainstream” (of the poker world, anyway). Sean disagreed, saying that in his eyes those “diary”-type blogs kept by pros (and others), while interesting, weren’t really blogs at all. “Anyone can write on their web page what their feelings are and how much they love their girlfriend,” explained Sean. Such “vanity blogs,” as Sean described them, hardly participate in the blogging community and thus in his mind didn’t really indicate much of anything about the current and future state of poker blogs.

Sean then made what he humbly described as an “academic distinction” between blogs and simple web pages, saying that while a web page merely reports (or transmits) information (such as a person’s experiences), a blog includes links and invites comments. According to Sean, a blog isn’t simply a monologue to no one in particular, but deliberately participates in a dialogue or exchange of ideas.

Iggy disagreed. “You can write a blog and not be part of the community,” Iggy replied. “There’s something to be said for that . . . that you just want to get out your thoughts, your opinions, [and] what you think is cool.” In fact, argued Iggy, for pros like Negreanu and Hellmuth to blog at all actually “legitimizes us” (i.e., those who write the kind of blog Sean prefers). Sean granted Iggy that point, and the pair moved on.

Both Sean and Iggy made good observations here. What do I think? I believe a blog can be any number of things -- a personal diary, a virtual soapbox, a promotional tool, a news outlet, a discussion-starter, a confessional . . . you name it. Ultimately, a blog shapes itself according to the personality of its creator. Some personalities -- like Iggy’s -- become more interesting and expansive as they develop, thereby contributing significantly to the “world” in which they participate. Others develop differently, although as Iggy points out, “there’s something to be said for” the value of even the most obscure, inward-looking blog. I agree that keeping a blog does mean entering into a “community” of sorts -- whether one purposefully intends to or not. With poker blogs, even just providing a daily report of one’s wins and losses with the occasional hand history thrown in is a way of joining an ongoing, many-voiced conversation about strategy and/or the experience of playing poker.

What is Hard-Boiled Poker? A babbling three-month old? A mere babe in the blog wilderness, its identity still uncertain? So far I’ve considered it a place to work out (mostly) poker-related thoughts and ideas, soliciting advice and opinions from others as I do. In an earlier post I mentioned that professional player Kenna James suggests writing about poker makes one a better player. Being forced to reflect on your decisions -- and explain them in a way that makes sense -- helps you become more aware, more knowledgeable. That’s certainly part of what I’m hoping to accomplish here -- to improve my game by describing (in a hopefully coherent way) what I think I’m trying do while playing. Putting it into words helps me see a little more. Hearing what others think provides further clues . . . .

That's why writing a poker blog is like being a detective. Raymond Chandler once described the detective story as “a man’s adventure in search of hidden truth.” All poker bloggers are shamuses, really. Investigating themselves.

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Blogger Ignatious said...

fine commentary. kudos.

8/02/2006 2:20 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

Way to make me sound smarter than I actually am! Great post.

8/02/2006 5:07 PM  

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