San Francisco, CA
The Tao of Poker got nominated for "Best Poker Blog" by Bluff Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards. Bluff lumped me into a category with four other deserving blogs (Hard-Boiled Poker, Riding the F Train, Subject: Poker, and Wicked Chops Poker) and I'm honored to be included among those amazing sites.
You can vote for Tao of Poker here.
Tao of Poker is what Seth Godin would call a "purple cow." I started it in the summer of 2003 because my friends hated reading about poker on this blog. Tao of Poker reached notoriety during the 2005 WSOP, which propelled me into a viable freelance writing career in the poker industry. Without the Tao of Poker, I never would have been able to visit over a dozen countries to cover various poker tournaments. I got to see the world because I loved to write about all things poker. Tao of Poker instilled confidence in my abilities as a story teller and reporter. Tao of Poker fed me. Tao of Poker got me drunk. Tao of Poker got me laid. Tao of Poker got me hired and subsequently fired from ESPN. Tao of Poker became the springboard for meeting groups of diverse people, many of whom I'm proud to call my friends.
Over the last few years, I struggled with burn out from the craziness of the poker industry and nonstop travel. Poker had taken up every aspect of my life and I lost the burning passion to write about the one thing that provided me financial security. My focus shifted to finishing Lost Vegas -- which took me five years to go from the original first draft to publication. Over the last few years, I also took mini-vacations away from poker to focus on writing/editing blogs with non-gambling content such as Coventry Music, Tao of Bacon, and Tao of Fear.
More than a half-a-decade later, I'm kinda shocked that the Tao of Poker is still getting accolades. I firmly believe the overall quality writing is as good as its ever been (e.g. A Day in the Life; Phil Hellmuth Denied, Eight Voices and a Sea of Troubles, Rolling Out the Magic, Down With Diseased Monkeys, and The Sahara Doesn't Live Here Anymore) but unfortunately, I haven't had the desire (nor the time) to write about poker every day like I did in 2005-06. After the horrible events of Black Friday in mid-April, when the government pulled the plug on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, I stopped playing online poker completely. It was no secret that PokerStars was my sugar daddy and Tao of Poker's top advertiser. Once the ad money and affiliate revenue dried up, I lost the financial incentive to write daily musings about poker. Prior to Black Friday, I had completely sold out and became a hired "thug" and shill for the online poker industry. I was a whore for the buck, but once the flow of money stopped... I seriously questioned why I should continue to crank out content on Tao of Poker.
I started Tao of Poker of the pure love for the game. I blogged for free and never expected a dime. Everything else that happened was 100% gravy. But right now, the entire poker industry is in the middle of a metamorphosis and my passion for the game has been exhausted. I'm outta gas. If I want to evolve as a writer, I have to blaze a new path.
I'm surprised that Tao of Poker got a nod this year from Bluff considering I took a significant amount of time away from writing about poker in 2011 for several reasons -- a new blog, a new book, Black Friday, trading silver futures, and health issues. Around this time last year, I launched Tao of Fear -- a blog that would cover all things related to fear mongering. I devoted a lot of man hours into developing the site and creating an audience. If you read the Tao of Fear, then you know I have a grim outlook about the global financial system. In anticipation of the collapse of the U.S. Dollar and Euro, I went back to day trading and playing the commodities market. In addition, I went on a hiatus at the beginning of the year to finish editing and eventually publishing my first novel -- Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Unfortunately during the WSOP Main Event, I was involved in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily, my girlfriend was not in the car with me and I was the only one injured. Even though I stayed in Las Vegas instead of going back to Los Angeles to rest up and heal (a decision I now regret), I was stubborn and forced myself to go to work everyday and pathetically limp around the Amazon Ballroom when I should have been confined to bed rest. I let my monster-sized ego lead me astray and as a result, the quality of my writing suffered. I betrayed myself and my readers with the Tao of Poker's lackluster Main Event coverage. I fled Las Vegas utterly disappointed with my decision to stick around. I felt like a washed up quarterback trying to re-live old glory days instead of embracing my decline and quietly riding off into the sunset.
When the WSOP ended, I took another huge chunk of time away from Tao of Poker for a much needed break. I finally returned to the Slums of Beverly Hills to heal. In August, I hit the road and went on the second leg of Phish's summer tour visiting Seattle, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Chicago, and Denver. I even flew out to Burlington, Vermont to attend a special charity concert. At the end of the summer, Nicky and I packed up all of our stuff and moved to San Francisco. I missed living in a real city again.
The car accident forced me to slow down and think about the wild ride I embarked upon ever since I accepted my first WSOP gig in 2005. It's been a whirlwind adventure and I wouldn't trade it for any other experience. However, the negatives of living life in the fast lane and having to spend seven weeks every summer in Las Vegas wore me down. Sometimes I was working so hard, I forgot to enjoy the remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime journey, but more importantly, I veered off path. I originally took a job in poker so I can stash away some money and write a couple of novels without having to work a conventional 9 to 5 gig as a cubicle monkey. Seven years later, I forgot what I originally set out to do.
Now that I've had some time away from the grind, I look back and feel incredibly lucky to have gotten where I am today. Tao of Poker would have never become what it did without the support of my brother, girlfriend, and amazing friends. Oh, and how can I forget about the loyal readers? Without them/you, I'm just another piece of wasted space on the intertubes.
Even though I took time off to reflect on my future, I still have yet to figure out what I'm going to do with Tao of Poker in 2012. The accident taught me a valuable lesson -- I needed to slow down -- which I did. But since then, I've been also bombarded with the overwhelming feeling that I got super lucky with a second shot at life. Yeah, it sounds like a cliche, but it took an almost fatal event to remind me that life is incredibly precious and short. Things happen for a reason, right? After a few months of reflection, I came to the realization that there's still a lot of other things I want to do... I want to write... I want to see. Unfortunately, most of those things do not fall into the poker realm.
I don't know how writing about poker -- both freelance and for myself -- will fit into my agenda for 2012. I strive to maintain a balanced life, but let's be honest -- Tao of Poker will never be what it once was. Alas, since the inception of my poker blog, I always winged it and never had an exact game plan. I wrote from the heart, rarely pulled punches, and always called things like I saw it. I was always flexible with the direction of the blog, and the content reflected my willingness to surrender to the flow. That attitude will never change. I always took chances. I adapted to constantly changing conditions in the blogosphere and the industry's landscape which had been altered due to the shaky political climate in Washington. But every year at the WSOP, I showed up and always tried to create something new and original. I attempted to enhance my coverage by utilizing different technology and aspects of social media. Sometimes I hit a home run. More often than not, I struck out -- but at least I went down swinging.
What will the future bring? I have no idea because I'm being pulled in different directions and have to follow my gut instincts. I will continue to write every day about a multitude of topics but and I don't know how much emphasis I'll put on poker in the coming year. I guess you'll have to tune in over the next few months to find out what my plans are for Tao of Poker.
To sum up... it's been an insanely fun ride in the poker industry and tons of fun while it lasted. I'm damn lucky in more ways than I can ever explain.
If by chance you enjoyed my poker musings, then I encourage you to vote for Tao of Poker here.