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The stages of a poker blogger (Part I)

I'm sure other people have already documented the growth of a poker blogger, both in his/her writing and in his/her poker game. I may have even read this somewhere else and am now in the process of plagiarizing someone else's hard work. Then again, I'm sure I'll introduce enough mistakes and falsehoods to make this my "own".

I've only been blogging (my wife's right - the word blog is more gay than the act of blogging itself) for a few months or so. Does this make me an expert on the phases that each blogger goes through? Nope. But I can give my opinion about the stages that I've encountered so far - and that, my friends, is what blogging is all about. Inaccurate statements of complete unimportance, bad advice meant to garner more money from even-weaker opponents, self-important dialogues, misplaced diatribes and masturbatory dreams of making it "big" - ain't blogs grand?

I've read many blogs, including my own, from start to finish and have come up with the following observations. Agree, disagree, call me a prick, whatever - but I'm guessing that if you've come this far, you're gonna keep reading.

Stage 1: I'm cool...please like me!
This is the stage where a poker blogger will outline their poker careers so far. Most bloggers at this point have had very little success in the world of poker, winning a few bucks here and there but still nowhere near playing poker professionally. This is the stage where the blogger doesn't have a voice of his/her/it's own. Most entries will seem eerily similar to the style of other bloggers out there.

Many will fall back on pimping other sites, using the word "pimping" to sound cool, and discussing various drinking stories in order to get a link from Al. I've seen it a million times (or at least, like, five times) and I'm sure this trend will continue.

Stage 2: Take a look at these!
Now that the site contains anywhere from 1 to 6000 links to various poker blogs, the writer/poker player must come up with some content. What do people want to read about? Heated discussions on why AKs sucks? No. Discussions of various poker rooms and their pros/cons? No. Poker theory and book reviews? No.

Every new blogger knows what people want: hand histories. Of course, how simple. Just play for a few hours everyday then post the hand histories containing all the exciting moments that make up poker. Of course people want to see the hand where you caught quads! And that hand where the guy hit his 3 outer on the river? That's quality shit right there.

I'd make some comment about bad beat stories here; however, I like bad beat stories. And, for the most part, new poker bloggers have yet to see any juicy bad beats at this point in their poker "careers".

Most experts define a bad beat as any time runner-runner is caught to overtake a previously winning hand. My definition is similar, but to be considered a real bad beat, two further criteria must exist:

  1. The bad beat should really cost the poker player a chunk of money that he or she really needed or it should cost the player some really good prize money. That will be sure to put the player on uber-tilt. And of course, uber-tilt is that delightful little phase of self-doubt where a player is to afraid to play AK strongly pre-flop for fear of chasing with a drawing hand.
  2. A good bad beat should induce the gag reflex and stand a good chance of creating an unfortunate case of vomiting. This happened to my brother once when he took his grocery money for the month and put it all on red. When the wheel came up black, his dinner came up on the drive home.

Stage 3: I need some good stories to tell!
Now that the blog is up and running and getting two or three hits a day from loved ones and friends, it's now time to start taking silly chances in order to come up with some good stories. Here, the blogger is more concerned about entertaining his or her non-existent readers than he or she is about bankroll size and winning.

This stage usually involves playing well above one's bankroll in the hopes of hitting it big or losing it all. In my case, I took my shot at the $1/$2 limit games at Interpoker. I said I'd keep at it until I lost $150...which I did...quickly...felt like vomiting...didn't...

For others with bigger cojones, this is the stage of $200 SNGs, $100 NL ring games, and WPT satellite tournaments. What these players fail to see is that they have become the calling stations or the fishy players that other bloggers refer to mockingly in their own posts.

These high-stakes stories usually end the same way - with the inevitable "Oops! I tried..." blog entry.

Stage 4: I need to make money!
By this point in time, the blog is generating a steady stream of 5 to 10 hits a day. Believe it or not, a lot of people love to a good train wreck. However, the poker blogger should not fooled: most visitors have ended up at the site by accident and others through a googled "problem gambling" search result.

It is at this point in time where the author sees the need for affiliate codes and other forms of click-through promotion. And so the previously uninteresting and illegible site now becomes an uninteresting and illegible site that loads extremely slowly. And for all the seizure-inducing blinking from all the affiliate links, one click-through is garnered for a total profit of 2 cents.

Stage 5: I need to get better!
Ahhh...here's the stage where some real studying and working on one's game promises better poker profit and better blog entries. I mean, at 2 cents per click-through, the blog will need at least 1000 click-throughs a day in order to cover the gambling losses.

This stage is accompanied by the common refrain of "I need to get back to the basics", re-reading Ed Miller, or finishing Harrington on Hold'em for real this time.

And so books are read, PokerTracker is purchased, hand histories are analyzed. Suddenly, the blogger gets it!

Stage 6: I need a break!
With further study comes the realization that many players out there don't know what they're doing. The blogger doesn't know why they keep winning - they're just getting lucky, picking up big hands and hitting the river constantly. However, upon further analysis, it will later be found that many hands were misplayed (i.e. slow-played), value bets were missed, an overabundance of crying calls were made, and opponents were not respected enough to be credited with even the most marginal iota of intelligence.

However, it is not the constant small losses that force the dreaded "hiatus": it is the vomit-inducing bad beat. It is the loss of a substantial portion of the blogger's bankroll on one hand. It is going all in for $100 with AA and getting called by pocket 5s and losing it all on the river. It is the runner-runner flush draw where the opponent holds only a 32s (which is, by the way, the hand which loses the most money online according to something I read a while ago).

I have just come back from my own hiatus. For me, my moment of horror came when my AK lost to another player's A4. I mean, it happens, right? However, at the time, I went into uber-tilt. I could not play properly online or otherwise. I couldn't stand the thought of poker. I didn't want to play it and I could not see why I liked the stupid game in the first place. Why? I finally realized that luck does play a role in poker and, unfortunately for me, short term can still be pretty f*cking long.

My hiatus was a short, albeit extremely bumpy, road to get back on track. As I continue to explore my own relationship with poker and blogging (the Liberace of all Internet endeavours), I will continue documenting my growth. If I do hit it "big", it's going to be a good ride. Although there is a pretty good chance of me thrashing about in the hiatus zone for a while depending on how often those stupid f*ckers out there keep hitting their sets on the river. Presto my ass! I'll show you presto, you little prick...

For all you new bloggers out there, take pride in the fact that there are many out there as sick, as boring, as crazy, as poor, as ecstatic, and as miserable as you. Savour the bad beats! We've all been there (most far longer than me but few more completely).

When things are going bad, learn.

When things are going well, be humble.

When things are going nowhere, take a break.

And if the cards just stop falling right, get as many affiliate links as you can and pimp other bloggers like a crazy mofo!


Felicia :) said...

Funny stuff!

Klopzi said...

Thanks Felicia!

iamhoff said...

So, I'm guessing you looked at my blog this morning for your material. I guess I AM just another lame, newbie blogger (hovering around Stage 4/5). I did get Harrington for Xmas, and I did just pimp everybody I've been reading (including you!), and I'll just continue to improve my game and my blog. I am having fun blogging, mainly because the poker blogger community seems to be filled with a bunch of freaky characters who serve to add a much needed spice to the everyday existence. I enjoy that. Besides, I can get away with blogging at work, while our IT thugs would shut me down hard if I tried to download Stars or Tilt.

Klopzi said...

Actually, iamhoff, I didn't look at your site...I looked at mine.

I think some of the "pioneers" of the poker blogging community may have gone through different stages than we have, but I definitely think that most new blogs tend to follow a similar pattern.

I guess we'll just have to see where we all end up a couple years down the road.

iamhoff said...

A few years down the road ought to be interesting...it was just really eerie reading your post and basically having your stages cover my post this morning almost to the letter! Scary stuff, dude.

drewspop said...

Stage 1 here. People seem cool and none of my friends/wife understand my obsession so...

Klopzi said...

We may seem cool, but we're not...

And don't worry, no one except my wife and a few other bloggers' girlfriends/wives understand the obsession. My advice is to play until you can't play no more while still spending time with friends and family and keeping enough money aside to pay for rent and food.

As for blogging, the new mantra seems to be "Blogs are gay!". I'm fine with that as long as it keeps improving my game (although it hasn't yet).

Anyway, enjoy stage 1: it's so full of promise. And thanks for the link!

Falstaff said...

Love the bit at the end. Nice stuff. I like your blog a lot, it appeals to my micro-limit side (still rebuilding my roll on Stars). Not that the rest of my poker career is much higher-stakes :).

Klopzi said...

Falstaff, it's always good to find out that you have some new readers. Up until last week, I think I only had a few people checking my site out.

I think the micro-limit, bankroll building exercise appeals to a lot of newer players out there. It doesn't help me much reading about people throwing around $3K a night. I've always cheered for the underdog and that, ultimately, is my intention with this blog.

I just hope that someday I'll go from underdog to top dog, but I think there's lots of time before that'll happen.

Will said...

I consider myself now as semi-pro poker player i.e I have built up a bankroll of $200 last year into $9,500 with a total of 'zero' be-buys!

Just started blogging a "UK 2008 Poker challenge" where I am aiming to take that $9,400 to $40,000 this year!

Check it out @: