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: