Monday, December 04, 2006

"May You Live in Interesting Times"

The old Chinese curse is much on my my mind in recent weeks.  On one hand, it's a great time to be writing about poker, because there are stories everywhere.  On the other, it's a bad time to be writing about poker and expecting to be paid for it, as recent examples have shown.

First, Pauly broke the news last week about the layoffs occurring at Card Player and the World Poker Tour.  Now, Lou Krieger has announced that his endorsement deal with the Royal Vegas Poker site will expire as of the end of the year.  I don't like to see people taking employment hits under any circumstances, but I dislike it more when the people involved are my friends.

Dan Michalski served up a thoughtful post a couple of days ago at PokerBlog on the topic, this fallout from the signing of the UIGEA, even as PokerBlog itself is also affected.  Pokerblog was created through Party Poker funding and their writers were a presence at last year's WSOP, and even though I'm at best neutral to Party itself, I liked the PokerBlog concept enough to all but give them the ad space at upper left.  It's a paid ad, but at a pittance, and it is the only ad I've accepted to date; I've turned down several other offers, because I didn't think that the products being pitched were a good philosophical fit to whatever the hell this blog is supposed to be about.  Still, Pokerblog itself is undergoing severe cutbacks, and while I don't think they've made public exactly who caught the axe, it's still pretty much public knowledge.  And no, I've never been a part of Pokerblog, even though I've cross-posted a couple of pieces there.

The ripple effect that the UIGEA's signing has brought was easy enough to foresee, and it's one of the reasons that I posted about the Gang of Goodlatte months back. nbsp;I've worked in a couple of cyclical, niche markets before, and I know only too well that sales and advertising dollars are the fuel driving the engine.  Card Player, like so many of the print magazines, still generates a significant portion of its ad revenue from spreads and full-page layouts pushing the online sites.  That business model took a wee hit.  Affiliate-model programs and those poker businesses with revenue streams supplemented by other sources stand to do better, but it's a crappy, questionable time.

For me, I don't know.  I feel endangered.  My two main sources of income are my Kick Ass Poker and gigs, and both of those could disappear the next time I open my e-mail, despite the fact that my bosses seem to like my work and pat me on the head often enough that I know they're sincere.  Yes, I'd love to pick up two or more new paid gigs, but writing is one of those things that a lot of people can do --- it's almost always a buyer's market.  Now, consider the quality of the writers who've taken hits.  If it can happen to Pauly and Lou and dozens of others, it can happen to anyone.  And in the face of such competition, my chances of increasing my regular outlets are, for the near future, slim.

Lou's among the dispossessed poker names I expect to see pop up in a new location somewhere soon, as he deserves to.  His own blog, he says, will keep going, but let's face it --- he's got time on his hands and an established poker audience for whom to write.  He'll be around.  Nonetheless, banging against such heavyweights and writing talents doesn't bode well for any fledging poker writer seeking to eke out a living at the edge of the market.  Such trickle-down effects reshape the whole of the market, not just certain pieces.

I know that I've been peddling a big story very hard and have received exactly zero nibbles, in part because the outlets that one could hope to sell such a piece to have been significantly reduced.  My KAP bosses likely would allow me to run it there, but the piece messes with some legal matters, and I've advised them against running it, if that makes sense.  Even though the risk is very small, because my work is very well documented, I couldn't put their fledging business in a spot where even the thin chance of a punitive lawsuit existed.

As for me, I'm broke and judgment-proof anyway.  I'll write what I wish.

I haven't quite given up hope, but if I don't receive some positive interest in a few days I'll have to bite the bullet and publish myself, for no pay.  It'll still be good for my readership, but it will be lousy for my hourly rate.  I have something like 180 hours of research and writing invested in the stupid thing, but it was never intended to be a money-maker; I've simply written this piece because the story needs telling.  Had I been able to sell it on the quick, I likely could have made the run to Vegas for all the poker-blogger fun.  That won't happen this time, now, but I'm a fatalist --- things occur for a reason.

I don't know what the next few months will bring.  I know I'd like to return to the WSOP next summer, since it has the same allure for a writer as it does for a player.  It's hard work, but I will always want to be there.  I originally thought that 2007 was going to be the year that I made my first appearance there, in writer's garb, based on the rate that I was accumulating paid credits in the biz; that I made it to the 2006 edition was simply a commingling of lucky breaks.

Onward, then.  Reading this, and in need of a poker writer?  Have modest skillz, will hack....

No comments: