Saturday, April 28, 2007

Oh, Yeah, About THAT Story...

It was just before my recent week-plus of personal travails that Jason Spry, one of my two bosses over at the Kick Ass Poker site, popped in on Internet Messenger. "One of our league players said we got a nice write-up in Poker Pro Magazine," said Jason. "Four or five paragraphs."
I was flattered, of course, and curious, because I didn't know nuttin' about it. But between the traveling and the medical stuff I was only able to check into one bookstore, the internationally acclaimed Book World in Stevens Point, WI (which didn't have the magazine), and the current issue also wasn't available on line.

I was at the local mall and remembered to check for it today. Wow. Thank you, Jennifer. Those were very, very nice words.

For backfill, Jennifer Newell wrote a "Best of the Blogs" piece which has just appeared in the April 2007 issue of Poker Pro. A handful of blogs are highlighted there, and Jennifer saw fit to mention both of my blogs --- this and the KAP blog --- along with luminaries of the blogging world such as Iggy, Wicked Chops and Pauly. Screen grabs, even!

Wow. I'm flabbergasted and honored. I'm also getting quite the kick out of the people who must have stopped by during this last week and a half of unexpected wordus interruptus and found not much going on. Oh, well. Them's the breaks. Also mentioned were most of the PokerWorks gang, Lou Krieger (who regularly gets hate mail just for giving me a leg up in the poker-media world) and Michael Craig over at FT.

I'm kind of surprised that the PPA finance thingy reared its head again, as Jennifer mentioned the KAP pieces from a few months back when the PPA was being a tad niggardly with its financial reports. Truth be told, I wasn't asking or demanding that the PPA publish that stuff because I thought that I or KAP was big enough or important to ask for it; I was merely adding my voice to the public clamor for that financial stuff to made available to the public. I bemoaned the lack of PPA response to me not because I felt personally entitled to it, but because I felt that promising a contact and not following through wasn't very professional, and that such an approach combined with the PPA's original reticence to make public those finances was a very strange combination for a non-profit concern seeking to win public favor.

I'm actually starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, the KAP posts played a tiny part in the PPA publishing its tax records. I don't know that it's true but I can't disprove it either, and it's not the first time I've seen a source point back to the KAP blog. For its part, I'll say that the PPA is doing much better these days, and I'd like to acknowledge that publicly. They're learning.

It also brings up the whole particle-vs.-wave thing about not just writing about what's in the news, but affecting it. Any writer worth the proverbial tinker's damn carries that fear --- writing on an issue and somehow causing a change, and then learning after the fact that it's been written wrong. If I ever lose that fear, I'll quit writing. I'm not afraid to make mistakes; I'm afraid to wield my admittedly sharp tongue without any regard at all for the consequences. I have huge ego. I have ego not quite huge enough to pretend that other people can't be hurt.

But back to Jenn's piece. I hope that any readers bouncing here after seeing that article will go back to my January/February archives and read the whole ' domain' series, which is by far the best stuff I've published here. Were that I had something of that scope to publish here every month, but unfortunately, that was an unusual combination of a whole lot of research and a story too hot and scary for any traditional poker outlet to touch. I suppose it paid off in notoriety and added readership, but it's also left me searching for other good stories or a follow-up for the folks that come by here. I don't do a lot of non-poker stuff, and my one recent poker excursion, at a Bodog limit table, was just ugly*.

(*Oh, really ugly. Down 45 BB's, most courtesy of an ultra-bleeping donkey who cold-called with any two suited from any position and absolutely could not miss. On the last big hand where he broke me, I had top two pairs and he parlayed his 9-2 soooted from UTG into trip deuces on the turn. Of course I raised pre-flop and three-bet the flop, because I knew His LAGgy Donkey Assness would play anything. But when someone like that runs hot, there's simply not much you can do. So much for a return to the tables.)

I do have quite a bit more material from that story that I never used, and of course, the whole nasty legal mess is still unfolding. Maybe there'll be a book's worth of story when all is said and done. I've heard that Federico Schiavo, the story's central character, is either (a) a really nice guy or (b) a litigious sonuvabitch, neither of which prevented me from writing the story in the first place. I didn't care, and I didn't have anything against him when compiling the story, though he doesn't come out very well as it unfolds. Besides that, most poker folks walk on tippy-toe when it comes to anything concerning Harrah's or the World Series of Poker. I'm no fan of monolithic mega-corporations in general, either. Harrah's came out of it as something akin to a victim, in an odd sort of way. Harrah's did do its own share of screw-ups, and when I saw those, I pointed them out as well. No free passes.

That said, Harrah's has been aware of the story for a good two months or so and they haven't sued me yet, either, which means they either verified the facts for themselves or they ran a credit report on me and gave it up as a lost cause.

Jenn referred to me as "an ideal example of the kind of journalistic integrity that all writers strive to maintain," and that's one of the highest compliments I've ever received. It's too much compliment, really, because I try to have high standards but I get lazy and stupid at times, just like most other writers. I've also done lots and lots of hackwork, and that is what it is. I'm often laughing as I'm cranking the very worst of it out, and on more than one occasion my mind has wandered to the apocryphal tale of Stephen King's explaining that he once tried to write a porn novel, and finally threw the thing into the fire after he reached the point where he had two lesbians perched together atop a birdbath. I'm even going to be lazy and not go check to make sure I've got the details exactly right, just so some King fan can correct me if I screwed it up.

Still, if there's any reason that this and the KAP site have established a small but stable fan base it's that I've tried to write what's on my mind. I also try not to write when I don't have anything to say, so it can be a week or so between posts, followed by three of four all in a big hurry, as is happening now. I write this stuff for free and I try to respect the people who invest their time in visiting, so that when I do post something, readers can know that I'm just not barfing up pixels to watch them dance on the screen. If you demand a post a day, demand elsewhere. Ain't gonna happen here on my watch.

The same quality baseline goes for the KAP blog, which is why I'm fond of the thing. It's not a huge dollar gig for me, but I have, for the most part, carte blanche on what appears there. We've only had major concerns over content twice in fourteen months, one of which I disagree with this to day, and another where I went off on about three-quarters cock. (Northwoods upbringing, there.) That's a pretty good track record, given that the site was supposed to be edgy and distinctive without pissing off too many of the advertisers. The job was also the first paying work I had inside the poker world, so I'm loyal to Brad and Jason for that, too.

The article was cool, though, and a very nice egoboo at the end of a damn tough week. Thanks again, Jennifer, and thanks to Poker Pro, too.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Hi, Haley... Jennifer Newell here!

So glad you liked the article in Poker Pro. By the time it hit the stands, it may have seemed a little outdated, but publishing lag times are extreme sometimes.

You can be modest about your journalistic integrity, but in this poker biz, you are one of a kind.

Hope to see you at the WSOP. I'll be there writing for a number of outlets but mainly doing tournament reporting for PokerPages. Come by and say hi! :)