Poker Blogs

BrittneyI was reading the recent controversy created by BG’s response to a post about blogs (BG’s post seems to have since been removed) and I thought I would throw out a few comments on a topic so near and dear to my heart.

First off, I agree with a great deal of BG’s thoughts. I didn’t start my blog to make money. I do accept advertising and I’m pleasantly surprised at what a nice little side income it has begun to generate but it certainly wasn’t my goal. I’m not even sure if I had a goal when I started my poker blog. If I did have one it was primarily to communicate with other players and to solicit feedback on my game.

I think it did accomplish the goal of introducing me to a group of interesting and fun people who share a similar passion. I’ve received tons of advice on my game in comments to my posts and privately in emails so I think I scored on that goal as well. So, I’ve achieved everything I set out to with this blog which is what makes it so damn difficult to figure out where it should go next.

What I do know is that my blog is a somewhat creative outlet for me. You won’t often see me posting about my personal life or my deepest darkest dreams but you’ll constantly get a steady supply of “Hmmm, you know what would be fun to write about . . .” I do give kudos to those who are talented enough to write about their personal life with the degree of honesty necessary to make it interesting but I just don’t posses that skill. I can’t bring those emotions across in text so I spare my readers the pain of reading it.

I think BG’s post points out my real problem with blogging and the blogging community though. Right now, blogging is like the dotcom bubble. Everyone wants to be the next Yahoo but nobody cares about offering value. There was a private email exchange the other day with some other bloggers about the obnoxious nature of some link requests we receive. These people have no desire to be a part of the community except for the benefit they think they can derive by slapping a WPBT banner on their site and getting hundreds of other bloggers to link to them.

Like BG, I don’t believe in this concept of worth being defined by what other people think. I’ve posted several posts on this blog about the Webby Awards and how insular that entire process is. If a popular Blogger A likes Blogger B then all the people who think Blogger A is cool start saying that Blogger B is cool. Even if Blogger A’s audience is only one tenth of one percent of the internet mainstream, if a few of those people sheepishly start calling Blogger B cool on their blogs eventually they’ll reach a point of saturation where the clueless journalist researching the topic concludes that Blogger B must be cool because there’s literally hundreds of mentions of him being cool.

All this really demonstrates is the concept of a fad. And if the idea of boosting your blog traffic using the fad model interests you, you’re likely only playing this game because it has become somewhat of a fad. As soon as something newer and shinier comes along you’ll be off to the next fad. And that, my friends, is the reason you have no traffic to your blog in the first place.

Personally, I feel that as the universe of poker blogs has increased the number of blogs worth reading has decreased. My RSS feed of poker blogs has gotten smaller over time and I continuously kick myself for not pruning it back even further. That’s not to say that I haven’t added new people to my list. I have. I just do so more cautiously and usually I boot someone else who has been on riding my personal threshold of worthiness for too long.

In Jordan’s post he talks about A, B, and C list blogs and I think he’s dead wrong. I think even worrying about your ranking in the poker blogging community is a sin. The people who have large readerships have those readerships because they have something interesting to say and can say it in a way that connects with people. There are poker bloggers who have been posting longer than I have who I can’t stand to read and based on their Bloglines numbers I’m not the only one who feels that way. Worse, in many cases, the longer they post the more their traffic trails off. Being first doesn’t put you into the A ranks. If you write quality content that people want to read they will find you. Sure, getting linked to from Pauly or Iggy or ?? can give you a boost but if you can’t retain that traffic by having interesting or insightful things to say then it’s a complete waste.

All of this brings me to the bigger issue for me which is the disappointment I have had recently with the poker blogging community. Whether it be the 600th charity tournament this week to help someone’s sister’s, boyfriend’s, uncle’s good friend with a hangnail or some asshat who decides to lash out because he’s been posting for two weeks and people haven’t broken down his door to embrace him into the community, the concept of what this community is has morphed from a group of people who shared a passion and became friends into something where people use the community as a form of validation.

Image borrowed from Flickr user MadJoker

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.