So often, in poker games I sit in, players tend to discuss previous hands that were played. There’s a time and place for this, and obviously reacting to something that just happened is only natural, but — generally speaking — if your focus is on past hands at the poker table, you won’t be able to play your best in the moment and moving forward. I was thinking about this idea lately, and there’s a particular life experience that I’ve had, connected to poker, that just solidifies the notion: the past is to be learned from rather than obsessed over.
An Alternate Timeline for Cardplayer Lifestyle?
I started Cardplayer Lifestyle in 2009, and it took me a while to really “get going” and consistently publish articles here. Every so often, I wonder “what would have been” if I had started this site just a few years earlier, when poker began booming in the wake of the World Poker Tour’s debut and Chris Moneymaker’s landmark WSOP Main Event win. I’ve heard so many stories about how “once upon a time, oodles of money” used to be offered to poker media outlets. Traffic was huge to poker media sites back then, which were in their infancy. Poker bloggers reigned the day, as they didn’t have to compete with the likes of streaming services or social media for people’s attention.
It’s certainly fun to dream about having bags of money handed to you by online poker operators and other poker companies in exchange for coverage. Most of the folks who were around back in those days aren’t really in poker media anymore. The “big money” dried up, leading people to move on to other, more lucrative, fields.
But that alternate past is not something I can or should ever obsess over. What good would it do me? I happened to enter the poker media niche at what most would call a bit of a nadir. With a long-term view, that’s actually what’s been best for me and my business, as the industry’s trajectory has consistently, albeit slowly, been towards growth over the last decade. Maybe I, too, would have left, in the wake of Black Friday… who knows?
So, what past DID I actually have? Not necessarily the “sexiest” one. If you look at my Linkedin profile, you’ll see that I worked as an employee for a wide variety of companies from the time I graduated university until finally becoming self employed back in 2017. Among those many companies I worked for were ones in the online gaming space. I typically had roles and positions related to content production and management. But each of those companies had numerous departments including those that specialized in search engine optimization, graphics and design, video production, internal marketing, business development, social media, advertising, and more.
I was able to absorb so much knowledge from my colleagues while working at those companies which has served me very well in my current role of running Cardplayer Lifestyle. Even from things that you might not think have any connection to doing the work I do, such as thinking of marketing campaigns for Finnish sites like netticasino, I was able to glean insights as to how I should be connecting with my own audience for my own website.
In a nutshell, if I didn’t experience the actual past and career development that I did, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today as well as I currently do it because I simply would never have learned the collection of skills that I did.
So, Too, in Poker
Who hasn’t heard an older poker player griping about “how the game used to be”? “I used be able to print money, but now these kids and their math have messed the game up” is the type of refrain oft heard among players who’ve been unable or willing to make any changes to their own game. But that’s not the nature of progress. A game doesn’t stay stagnant. There’s an evolution to poker, and players must evolve with it or get left behind. obsessing about the past won’t make it come back.
Perhaps no player is more exemplary of this than Daniel Negreanu. Already a legend and Poker Hall of Famer, he could coast on his past results for the rest of his career. And yet, he has instead opted to publicly “go into the lab” to learn the mathematical GTO components of the game that “all the cool kids are using these days”. The results are obvious. Unlike many of Daniel’s contemporaries who have had to drop down in stakes, he is still able to compete at the absolute highest levels of the game and achieve success.
So, what’s to be learned from this? Well, I suppose that the point is pretty obvious. I made it in the title and introduction, and solidified it with an example from my professional career as well as one of the world’s top poker players. Why write this op-ed then? Well, I guess the occasional reminder, no matter how obvious, is worthwhile.