Lee Davy fills a hole in the space of festive poker news with a look back at his favourite poker articles of 2016.
It’s not easy being a poker writer. Take right now for example. Nothing is happening. The poker players are flocking back to their uncomfortable nests. The online operators are winding down. The idiotic rule makers are getting sloshed in their Christmas parties. And the writers have to write. But there is nothing to write.
People ask me:
“How do you get all of your ideas?”
Let me show you.
Most of my ideas come from documentaries, books and podcasts.
It seems we attach the word ‘professional’ to the front of ‘poker player’ if the player in question makes a living from the game. But that doesn’t make someone ‘professional.’ Martin Jacobson is a ‘professional’ in every sense of the word. And that’s why I wrote 10 Reasons Why Martin Jacobson Documentary 10 For 10 is Worth a 10 Out of 10.
Another ‘professional’ is Daniel Negreanu and to see his Kid Poker documentary in the Netflix library made me realise that his personal brand may well have outgrown his employers. And it was bloody good. I thought I knew everything about him. I was wrong and wrote about Why The Kid Poker Documentary Brought me to Tears.
I love listening to podcasts.
I believe they are the ultimate quick fix when it comes to self-improvement. One of the first podcasts I subscribed to was The Tim Ferriss Show. Ferriss once filmed an episode for The Tim Ferriss Experiment TV show called How to Play Poker Like a Pro. So I wasn’t surprised when he invited Phil Hellmuth to be a guest on his show. I was surprised by the negative feedback from certain reaches of the higher echelons of power and shared my thoughts as to Why I believe Tim Ferriss was right to interview Phil Hellmuth.
I also binge-listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History during my summer visit to LA and Las Vegas. The show blew hot and cold, but I kept hearing ideas for poker articles during every episode which led to my articles: What Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Taught me About Poker and How The Threshold Model of Collective Behaviour Slows Down Poker And How Dealers Could Speed it up.
There is also a host of ideas in books.
I wrote What The Alchemist Can Teach us About Poker And Pursuing Our Destiny after reading Paulo Coelho’s classic. And David Burns’ Feeling Good was the inspiration behind Using the triple column technique to defeat negative self-talk at the poker table.
Poker And The Gift of Imperfections emerged after reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfections. I had the idea to write Online Poker Rooms: Why Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t And What You Can Do About It after reading Steven Pressfield’s book of the same name. And The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday was the spark that created The Stoic Way of Dealing With Speech Play in Poker and Poker And The Art of Negative Visualisation.
My Interest in PokerStars
As the biggest online poker room in the world, I am going to write a lot about PokerStars. But there was a negative vibe to almost everything I wrote about them this year. The way they managed communications during their transition from a privately owned company to a publicly traded one was appalling. Their lack of honesty and integrity with their customers about their primary drives and desires reminded me of the horror show of the private rail industry. And it is such a shame because their products are second to none.
It wasn’t only the PokerStars communications department that rubbed me up the wrong way. The lack of integrity shown by the players also angered me. I have heard the excuses why a professional poker player needs to play on PokerStars, and I don’t buy any of them. The only thing that prevents players from leaving is fear. And the lack of honesty on the part of the leading dissenters who continue to play on the site was as hypocritical as some of the messages leaving the Isle of Man offices.
And for this reason, I wrote Justin Bonomo Refuses to Take EPT Snapshot But Did he go Far Enough?; What is a Company Without Customers: An Online Poker Customer Experience and Why I don’t think the players will care if David Baazov takes PokerStars private.
Justin Bonomo popped up in another of my headlines when I wrote Why We Should Support Justin Bonomo And Report More Sexual Microaggressions. I also discussed the open airing of controversial topics on social media with Daniel Negreanu in Daniel Negreanu on Politics, Religion and Public Opinion.
I still don’t think men understand the problems that women face, not just in poker, but in the wider world. One of the best ways to turn ignorance into empathy is to write about it. The more we discuss these things, the more aware and reflective we become – if we have an open mind, to begin with, that is.
I didn’t enjoy my time at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this year. Like Christmas, the buzz seems to be wearing off as I age. I am sure I would find a renewed sense of optimism should someone hand me $10,000 and tell me to play the Main Event. I churned out 22 Pieces of Advice for World Series of Poker Virgins, Should The Poker Community Forgive Chris Ferguson?, WSOP Poker Player’s Championship: A Story of Humility and WSOP Main Event: Shuffling and Dealing With Heroes & Villains.
My readers know I am a big supporter of charitable efforts. 2016 was another fantastic year for poker when it came to money and time offered to help reduce suffering in the world with all of the major poker organisations doing their bit to make a difference.
The biggest donator of poker funds remains the One Drop, and I was somewhat critical of the decision to move the event to Monte Carlo and ban the pros. By doing this, they actually reduced the amount of suffering they could end in the world by limiting the buy-ins. I covered my thoughts with Why The One Drop Must to go Back to Being an Open Event and The Big One For One Drop Raised $3.8m, But it Could Have Been More. And with poker quickly becoming the charitable leaders in sport and gaming, I speculated that it was time for someone like Raising for Effective Giving to become the next Givewell in Charity in Poker: Is It Time For Poker’s Givewell to Emerge?
Poker is Too Difficult
I spent 19-years working in the rail industry before I found poker. One of the first things I realised when I began working on the live tours was how insulated poker is from the rest of the world. Seriously, sometimes it’s as if the ‘real world’ doesn’t exist.
And this is why I don’t have much sympathy when poker players complain about how tough the games are or how difficult it is to become a professional. There are different gradations of difficulty when it comes to a choice of profession, and I’m sorry folks, but sitting down at a table and folding cards doesn’t deserve the term ‘tough’.
Whether my sympathy is deserved or not it was a hot topic in 2016 and that’s why I wrote Is it Easier to Win Money in Poker Today Than it Was Pre-Internet?, Why There Has Never Been a Better Time in Poker to Become Stinking Rich and The professional poker player: Keeping the dream alive.
During my reading and podcast listening, I think a lot about the future. I am always advising my son to find a career that is less likely to be taken over by an android. The rise technology, the thought of becoming an interplanetary species and the mathematical probability that we are probably living in a computer simulation makes me believe that online poker is going the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.
So with my futuristic thinking cap on I wrote There is An Online Poker War Coming, And The Enemy Isn’t Human, What Online Poker Can Learn From FIFA17’s The Journey, and Why Twitch Streamers Are The Future of Poker Commentary.
The Global Poker League
It’s no secret.
I am a big fan of the Global Poker League (GPL).
Poker is boring, and the GPL is one way of making it exciting.
I wrote about the league a lot, but this article stands out in my mind as one that tried to take a more innovative look at how the league could improve: The Next Evolution of Poker Fan Engagement; Why Not Make Them The Managers of the Global Poker League Franchises?
One way of making poker less boring is to find more characters. And if we can’t find them then the GPL can help manufacture them. I didn’t touch upon this topic as much as I should have done this year, but recently wrote about how Jake Cody Could Become The Jason Somerville of Vlogging?, and Why Poker Needs People Like William Kassouf.
Finally, on a personal note, I was intensely bothered by the Marty Derbyshire witch hunt that resulted in him losing his job with PokerNews. Many believe Derbyshire was his own worse enemy, but I feel strongly that asking for him to be sacked is a stretch too far and I wrote about it here: The PokerNews debate and why it’s easier to sell tea.
So there you have it.
That’s where I get my ideas from.
But what do I actually learn from this great game of ours?
Well, I wrote about that as well.