Among the dozens of individuals who have featured in our ongoing Get to Know the Poker Media series are a large number of Cardplayer Lifestyle contributors. This particular installment ought to hold some kind of record though.
Our featured subject, Ivan Potocki, wrote his first article for this website way back in May 2015. Only now, over seven-and-a-half years later, have I finally had the privilege of meeting Ivan in person. He came to provide in person coverage of Mixed Game Festival III here in Malta, and he’s done a delightful job.
It’s been a true joy to finally meet the man I’ve been corresponding with for all these years, and who has been responsible for writing dozens upon dozens of the articles published on these webpages.
What better time than now to shine the spotlight on this wonderful individual, with whom I’m quite literally about to go and have what’s sure to be a delightful lunch.
How did you first get into the poker industry and for how long have you been doing it?
I discovered poker, or more specifically Texas Hold’em, during my first year studying English language and literature. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the game, and over the next few years, I was able to learn a lot and was actually making some money at the tables.
After I got my BA, I started thinking that there had to be a way to somehow merge my passions for poker and writing, and so I started looking for poker writing gigs. The first real industry job I landed was writing some 50 short biographies of famous poker players some seven or eight years ago.
What poker outlets have you been involved with and which has been your favorite (one-time or ongoing) gig over the years?
I’ve had opportunity to write for so many different sites over the years. More recently, I’ve been involved with Mypokercoaching and Pokerfuse, and, of course, Cardplayer Lifestyle – that one has been going strong for a few good years now.
Before that, I wrote for PokerTube and PokerVIP, had a few opportunities to write some side content for PokerNews, etc. I also want to mention my involvement with BeatTheFish, a cool poker blog that I’m no longer involved with, but I see is still going strong, and I’m really happy about it. The time I spent working with Josh was really important for my professional development.
It’s hard to pick favorites. In general, I always enjoy more “free style” writing, where you can add more of your own thoughts and insights, but that’s not always an option.
What is it that you love about poker that keeps you so interested in the game?
I can honestly say that my passion for the game is as strong as ever, and I think that’s a big part of being good at this job. There is a lot I love about poker and I’ve been through different phases over the years, but what attracts me to it more than anything these days is the fact that it’s the game of people.
That’s why I’ve turned much more towards live poker lately. While online can be amazing, it’s missing that human element that, to me at least, is exactly what makes the game so great. I know everyone is about GTO and numbers these days, but when you look across the table and are able to tell that someone is ready to just give their stack away, there is no real substitute for that.
I’ll admit that it may not be the most profitable way to approach poker, but luckily, I’m not a professional player, so I don’t have to worry about it that much. And, my approach has been working just fine for me, as I’m not losing money and I’m having loads of fun every time I play.
What sort of job(s) – if any – did you have before getting into poker?
Before my life as a writer, I did all sorts of jobs. I worked at a radio station as an audio technician, spent some time working in a small printing shop, and always had some translation gigs on the side. Of those things, translation was what I always enjoyed the most, and I still do an occasional simultaneous translation gig every now and again – something I enjoy very much.
How often do you play poker? Home games mostly or in poker rooms? Cash or tourneys?
I haven’t been playing that much lately, so my recent trip to Malta was a real pleasure and I properly enjoyed every moment of it (the fact I ran pretty well at the tables certainly helped with that!).
There are no official poker games where I live in Bosnia anymore. We used to have some tournaments, but the pandemic put a stop to that, and they are not coming back; that much is clear.
So, when I do get to play, it is mostly home games, and primarily cash. I mostly prefer cash games anyways, as there is so much more play to be had. I mean, I love tournaments, too, but it’s hard to be creative when you’re working with a stack of 15 – 30 big blinds, plus, when you bust, you’re out, and that’s that for the night. If I reserve an evening for poker, I want to get every possible hour out of it.
What’s the poker scene like (if there even is one) in Bosnia? Are you allowed to play online? Are there local poker rooms you can play at or do you have to travel internationally?
There are no clear laws regulating online poker here. Some rooms are happy to accept players from Bosnia, others prefer to steer clear. We have a fair number of options available, although deposits and withdrawals can be a bit tricky.
As for local poker rooms, like I explained earlier, we don’t have those anymore. There were two before, spreading primarily tournaments with some occasional cash game action, but now it’s just home games.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about people who work in poker media?
I don’t know about general misconceptions, but it often feels like people don’t really believe that I actually do something like this for a living. Can’t say that I blame them, though, as these types of jobs aren’t that common here, and things have only started to improve a bit over the recent few years.
Do you do any other sort of work (side gig), writing or otherwise?
I don’t have much time for side gigs, and the little time I do have, if I’ll spend it working, it has to be something I really love. So, the only unrelated side gigs I take are the ones that involve simultaneous translation as I really want to learn more about it and love every opportunity that comes my way. It pays well, too, but in this particular instance, money is secondary.
What other hobbies do you have? Tell us about them.
I don’t think I really have any proper hobbies these days (beyond poker, obviously), and that’s something I keep telling myself I need to work on. My work / life balance is far from perfect, and as much as I enjoy what I do, I know I need some proper hobbies to get my mind off the things. I used to love to play pool, but haven’t really done that in a couple of years, either, so I guess I need to get me some hobbies.
What do you enjoy doing coverage about most in poker – lifestyle/feature pieces, op-eds, promotional stuff, product/room reviews, tourney recaps, live/online poker news, or live reporting?
That’s easy, op-eds. I like to try and analyze things and talk about how I see them. A good op-ed piece can be so satisfactory, even though there are some drawbacks. You have to put yourself out there a bit. Tourney recaps and standard news stuff are much “safer” – as long as you check your spelling and grammar and don’t make any big factual blunders, there is nothing to worry about.
I did some limited live reporting, too, and it’s a bit weird for me. While I love it for the most part, I always feel “left out,” as in everyone else there is having fun and playing poker, and you have to be on the sidelines.
You’ve written reviews of numerous courses from many of the best poker training sites over the years. I’m positive that’s helped you improve your poker game. But I’m wondering if it’s not a bit “confusing” learning so many different approaches and methods from different training sites rather than just the one site, like most serious players who put in study time?
Confusing, yeah, that’s one way to put it. After watching so many videos, it’s impossible for things not to mix up, and although I watch these courses, I don’t study them as carefully as serious players do.
So, I have all these different ideas in my head, and then I try to make something out of them. When it works, I’m happy and think to myself: there you go, you learned this. When it doesn’t, I’m never sure if it was just variance or if I am not quite doing it correctly. But one thing is certain: I do have a lot of interesting ideas bouncing in my head every time I play, and that makes it fun.
What’s something you still haven’t yet done/accomplished in poker that’s on your bucket list?
The biggest and the most obvious one is to visit Las Vegas and play some poker there. I know that games aren’t nearly as good as in many different parts of the world, but it’s my bucket list item – to play poker in Las Vegas.
Another big one is to spend at least a year playing (live) poker semi full-time. While I am not looking to turn pro, I’d like to put more time into the grind and give it a proper go for a little while to challenge myself and see what happens.
Alright, the stage is yours – go ahead and let loose about something you just HAVE to get off your chest.
I always try to inspire more people to get into writing, so I’ll use this opportunity to do it as well. Whether it’s poker or something else you’re passionate about, with a bit of effort, you can turn it into a nice side gig or even a full time job.
It may seem crazy to invite “competition,” but I think there is plenty of room for everyone, and writing can be such a satisfying way to make some money and enjoy doing it. Plus, you don’t need any special equipment to start – just some heart and commitment!