Thursday, October 07, 2010

Exit Interview

In my heart of hearts I knew what was happening from the moment I opened the email. Meeting tomorrow, over the phone. The wording was clinical, the usually friendly, jovial tone nowhere to be found. I tried to convince myself otherwise, awarding percentages to what it could really be about. But I knew. That's why I wasn't too surprised when the words finally landed in my ear.

In late 2006, at a Mexican restaurant in Studio City, John Caldwell hired me to write for PokerNews. Four years, four WSOPs, and three editors later, I was relieved of my duties, a rare L.A. rainstorm pounding the hood of my Mazda as I sat pulled over on a side street six blocks from my apartment.

In the years that passed between those two conversations, the poker industry changed radically. It's no secret that PokerNews (as well as many of their direct competitors) operate on an affiliate model. In layman's terms, the vast majority of the money they make comes from the referral fees online poker sites give them for each person who signs up for an account by clicking on one of their banners. That used to be a lot of money per player. Now, things are different. The money isn't rolling in like it used to, and it's an industry-wide trend.

PokerNews let me go for reasons that had a lot more to do with dollars and cents than anything else. I was one of their higher-paid employees. That's not to say I was making a fortune-- in order to get by I had to supplement my income with freelance work for other clients-- but it was more than a lot of people earn in the poker media. I think I earned every cent I made there and then some. Of course some pieces were better than others, but I know I'm a good writer. In the moments before being terminated from my job, I was called the "best in the industry." But in the New World Order of cost-cutting and downsizing, it is now more valuable for outlets to hire younger, more inexperienced people to write for them rather than paying more money to a veteran who knows what his or her talent is worth.

I will always be grateful to John Caldwell for bringing me into the PokerNews fold and to Jonno Pittock who showed me what it really takes to cover the World Series of Poker. When I think about the proverbial "jerseys on the wall" at PokerNews, I think about folks like Amy Calistri, Tim Lavalli, Martin Harris, Haley Hintze, Michael Friedman, John Hartness, Gene Bromberg, and my own beloved Dr. Pauly (who even came out of retirement for a few months to assist in last year's editorial transition). That's an extremely talented group right there and I'm honored to have worked with each one of them. I also have to thank Dr. Ken Friedman for being a brilliant editor over the last 14 months. He made me a better writer and I'll never forget it.

Although I am now without full-time employment, I will still be covering LAPT and NAPT events for the PokerStars Blog. And maybe you'll get a bit more of me here again. I can only think of one one strong female voice who is still drawing a full-time editorial paycheck in this industry (that's you, Jess Welman) and I still have a lot to say. In my time at PokerNews I hope I informed you, I hope I entertained you, and moreover, I hope I made you think. Some may call me cynical, some might call me jaded. All I did was try to tell the truth.

As a small parting gift, here's what I thought were my five best op-eds for PN this year:


23 comments:

Drizztdj said...

Speechless.

Thank you for bringing the WSOP to those of us who can't be there over the years. My hope is that you'll be there again this year by the time Memorial Day rolls around.

See you in two months with multiple drinks in hand.

SirFWALGMan said...

Sorry to hear you will not be writing for them anymore full time. You are a great writer!

rjm said...

Sorry. I enjoyed your work. May better things lie ahead.

Shkarpyan said...

First comment on your blog, but I hope not to be the last.

I've been a follower of your articles for the past three years and I enjoyed a very high percentage of them.

You are indeed one of the best poker press authors around and I wish you plenty of success in the future.

Greetings from Slovenia,
Samo

Bill said...

I cannot help but think that your unwillingness to remain quiet about the sexism in poker and specifically sponsorship deals was a large contributing factor. I hope this isn't the case, but the poker media (and sports/entertainment media in general) is becoming more mouthpiece for the 2nd estate as opposed to the 4th estate.

-Chilly

jjok said...

Totally sucks. Time to fall up, which I'm sure you'll do.

Webjoker said...

I never worked with you but read all your articles and think you really added something to the site. Hope you will do well, I hope someone jumps in and hires you right away. Good luck!

PokerLawyer said...

I think it's a real loss for Poker News and poker media, in general.

I know your gender is completely irrelevant to your abilities, but it was inspiring (to this woman, anyway) to watch you, from the rail, do what you do so well.

I look forward to railing you here as well.

Good luck to you.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

That is crapola news but your writing has always been absolutely top notch and I am sure will land you something bigger and better soon. No way people will let someone of your talent sit idle for long.

Human Head said...

The Mrs and I were very taken aback at this rotten news, and sorry to hear it.

All I can say is, (in my best Nelson voice), "Now I don't believe in anything!"

Dantana said...

jeesh, first you have to go and get fired, then you gotta put all the pressure of an entire gender on jess but not before blaming amy calistri?

it really is amy's fault though ... and her damn hat!

Narcissist's Ball said...

Lame. Sad state of affairs when talent is so outweighed by economics. I think poker needs writers of your talent more than you need poker, though. You'll land on your feet.

bellatrix78 said...

Long time, first time...
So sad, you told it like it was! Wishing you a lot of luck in all your future undertakings!

Kajagugu said...

That sucks! But makes sense. I am not sure what the current trend is in the industry, but I would venture to guess there is a decline in new sign-up growth and playing volume. The industry has plateaued or might be shrinking even.

The good news is that entertainment is booming again!

Nerd said...

sad and a big "loss" for Poker News (event they don't get it). I hope, that you'll find a new assignment

Haley said...

I blame Amy's hat, too. Sorry to hear it, but better luck to you in the future. As for me, they can take away mah moneez but they cannot shut me up.

PokahDave said...

While that is not great news. I enjoyed reading your articles. I am looking forward to your next full time gig....

Falstaff said...

Their loss. You've grown a ton as a writer in the time I've known you, and it was an honor to work with you. Your work was always some of the very best, and stuff I actually enjoyed reading. See you soon!

yestbay said...

Sorry to hear this. I hope that an even better gig comes your way soon!

drnorman said...

Well, Change 100, time for a change. As terrific as your writing is, I think that your skills can now be put to greater use. You have not wasted any time in your poker career. Rather, you have become a different person.

You are blessed with skills that could be applied to many fields. I realize that a paycheck comes first, but second comes a PLAN, a plan to move forward into other realms of writing or whatever you choose.

Your insight, obvious writing talent, experience, innovation, lack of tolerance for bs,ability to dedicate yourself to multi-tasking, and etc. are not characterisitcs commonly found in one person.

Keep on keeping on...your day will come. DrPauly is well on his way. You too have all of what you need if only you can find the right path.

OhCaptain said...

It's hard to add more then what the others have already said. It sucks but you're very talented. Keep your eyes open for the next door to open and begin the next chapter.

Yorkshire Pud said...

As Hammer Player says there is no chance at all of someone not snapping up your talents

Mr Subliminal said...

Their loss. I'm sure there's something even better waiting round the corner.