As 2019 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on how fantastic a year it has been. A year in which Cardplayer Lifestyle achieved big milestones and crossed the one decade mark online. A year in which I spent more time on planes and abroad for poker (mostly work) trips than ever before. A year of record revenues (no simple feat for any media site in this day and age). Truly a year full of blessings, for which I am supremely grateful.
And yet, as much time and effort as I put into working hard, the resulting success has just as much to do with the help, support, and encouragement I’ve gotten from so many special people; there’s no way I could do this alone. In both 2017 and 2018 I published an end-of-year article listing some of the people who’ve enhanced my life and helped Cardplayer Lifestyle thrive.
This year was no different, but in light of it being our 10th anniversary year, I’ve decided to change the title of this annual piece just a little to be a Top 10 list, and recognize organizations and groups of people in the poker world for everything they’ve done for me.
It goes without saying that there are SO many more people I need to thank, including the wonderful people who “made the list” in previous years, and I am of course still thankful. In 2019, however, the following folks were truly exceptional.
My Behind-the-Scenes Wizards
When I promote Cardplayer Lifestyle content, what you see is the final product. That doesn’t happen without the help of:
- John Wright – You have proven not only to be a great business partner and friend, but also an amazing webmaster mentor. Thank you for all the expert advice and tips you’ve given me just out of the goodness of your heart, John; it’s a privilege to learn from you.
- Radoslav Stoyanov – You are one of – if not THE – most reliable person I’ve ever worked with. Available at almost any time, with barely a moment’s notice, your web development skills have been my “safety net” and you’ve successfully eliminated any anxiety I ever have over coding, CSS, HTML, or front end problems I cannot tackle on my own. Thank you for everything!
- Mike Burgher – A montage magician, I was able to produce a number of poker trip highlight videos as well as video interviews specifically thanks to you. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to continue our collaborations in 2020.
My Contributing Writers
Here’s a statistic that surprised even me: of the 200+ articles we published this year, I produced only about 33% of them. While I’ll always continue writing for this site, slowly but surely I’ve felt my main role shifting ever so slightly more into that of editor/publisher/promoter. Cardplayer Lifestyle will always be my baby, but I realized long ago that growth and scaling for the brand wouldn’t be possible without entrusting others to write for this site as well.
We’ve featured the work of about two dozen contributing writers in 2019.
- Some, like Geoff Fisk, Ivan Potocki, George Epstein, Chris Wallace, Stas Tishkevich, and Tadas Peckaitis, have penned over a dozen each, mostly in the poker strategy realm.
- Other veteran contributors, like Calum Grant, Chad Holloway, Christina Bradfield, Mike Patrick, Grzegorz Bochniak, James Guill, and Shannon Mack, have continued submitting great stories, reviews, and features multiple times throughout the year.
- We’ve also happily welcomed new contributors, including Amanda Botfeld, Sol Rosenbaum, Alex Scott, Matt Affleck, Matt Hansen, Mike Brady, Sky Matsuhashi, and Milko van Winden, into the fold.
To all of you, thank you so much for sharing my enthusiasm for poker and writing, and for not “just” supplying content, but truly CONTRIBUTING to Cardplayer Lifestyle. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all well into the future.
My Home Game Buddies
Living in Israel, a country with no legal live poker rooms, can be really tough if you love playing this game. Thankfully, I’ve got lots of great friends who also enjoy poker. My two home game groups help keep my skills sharp, and thankfully also help keep me from going insane.
Poker isn’t a drug, but “poker withdrawal” is absolutely a thing. Going through that right now and I have a feeling it’s going to last a while.
If there were poker rooms here in Israel, I’d likely be organizing a meet-up game for tonight or tomorrow.
When’s the next home game? pic.twitter.com/qalRlLXXPj
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 21, 2019
Thanks to my Dad, Moe, Maurice, Kenny, Rachi, Amnon, Benjamin, Shimi, Chaim, David S., Moshe, Albert, Hank, Jay, David H., Ariel, Yoel, Tomer, and Guy for our hundreds of fun hours together throughout the year (and every year!).
My Dad, Dr. Joe, will be having cataract surgery next week and currently can’t drive due to slightly blurred vision.
So… we all paid him a house call last night to keep him company. He had never worn sunglasses in his life.
I ❤️ my Dad. pic.twitter.com/ayTgxU3Hfm
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) December 20, 2019
Good poker, good friends, good times.
Happy birthday to me 🎉🎂#thisis38 pic.twitter.com/LBrcjebmUC
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) November 3, 2019
The Run It Once Team
Over the past year and a half, I’ve become an affiliate for a number of companies that offer poker training courses. For those of you unfamiliar with how affiliation works, that means that if someone signs up through my link, I receive a portion of the sale proceeds.
While I’ve entered into agreements with over a dozen great organizations, there’s one in particular that I wish to single out, and that’s Run It Once Training (and by extension Run It Once Poker). I’m on excellent terms with everyone I work with – and that I’m not singling any other companies out is no knock on them in the slightest – but the sheer extent, breadth, and depth of correspondence I’ve had with the folks working at Run It Once throughout 2019 is unparalleled.
A longtime friend of mine, Hanan Greenberg, has a favorite saying: “when you succeed, we succeed.” No saying can possibly better capture what an affiliate relationship is meant to be like and I genuinely feel that sentiment to be true as far as my relationship with this company.
I don’t (YET!) drive huge numbers to them, but that doesn’t stop me from trying and it doesn’t stop them from treating me like a valued business partner. It’s that type of positive attitude, team spirit, and value system that’s pervasive in the company from Phil Galfond right at the top, all the way down, and why I enjoy working with them so much.
Specific shout outs to Andy, Mikey, and Eoin. You guys rock!
Sam Simmons and Eric Danis
In March I was notified that my 1,000km Running Well Challenge was selected as the 2018 Global Poker Award-winning Charitable Initiative of the Year. I was shocked to get the email from the Presidential pair of Sam and Eric (of Poker Central/PokerGO and HendonMob/GPI, respectively). The award sits in a prominent place in my home and every time I look at it I still shake my head in disbelief.
It’s not just that the award was humbling, but that prominent organizations in the poker industry felt that my grassroots charitable initiative that raised “just” $10,000, mostly via modest donations from over 40 supporters, made enough of an impact to be worthy of larger-scale recognition in the first place.
To me, that’s proof positive that you don’t need to be a high roller or raise millions in order to make a tangible difference, and for that I am supremely thankful.
Proud to finally hand over this beauty to @cardplayerlife – congrats, Robbie!! Big thanks to fellow award winner @PokerCentral’s @drew_amato for the photos! #GlobalPokerAwards pic.twitter.com/Po5ztsXHjs
— Eric Danis (@EricDanisPoker) June 7, 2019
The PartTimePoker duo: Keith Woernle and Craig Klinski
On an almost daily basis, PartTimePoker.com publishes a column entitled Hit and Run. It’s a brief summary/overview of pretty much all of the goings-on in poker. Whether it’s in written, audio, or video form, if poker media content is getting published online, you’ll probably hear about via the Hit and Run.
Quite often, the column’s authors, Craig Klinski and Keith Woernle, make mention of and link to the content we regularly publish here at Cardplayer Lifestyle. That’s not something I take for granted.
My contributors and I work hard to produce good, original, informative, entertaining content and it’s especially appreciated when someone takes notice. For this pair of fine gentlemen to always be paying attention to what we’re doing in these pages and take the time to help spread the word via their platform truly means a lot.
The PokerStars PR Team
I had the privilege to attend two PokerStars-branded live events this year, namely the inaugural PSPC in the Bahamas and EPT Sochi. Those opportunities were extended to me via the company’s PR team, and I’m very grateful to have had the chance to be on-site, witness incredible poker action, and produce loads of content I otherwise would never had had the chance to create. We also collaborated a third time in 2019, with our contributor Geoff Fisk doing great work at EPT Barcelona.
It’s not just the “big ticket” opportunities that I wish to thank the PokerStars PR Team for though; it’s the relationships we’ve built. We’re in touch frequently throughout the year and you’re always so incredibly supportive of the work I do.
When I reached out to ask if you’d be interested in supporting my low-stakes mixed game gathering this past summer, you responded with overwhelming kindness and generosity.
In all my digital and in-person interactions with you, you’ve all been nothing short of phenomenal.
Thank you Eric, Rebecca, Samantha, Moya, Nikki, Monique, Amy, and Fiona. You’re wonderful people!
The Red Chip Poker Team: James Sweeney and Zac Shaw
Here’s another team I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with this past year. While my time as host of the Red Chip Poker podcast was limited, I loved every moment of it. One of my favorite types of poker media work is interviewing people and you guys gave me an incredible platform via which to do so and have tremendous reach.
I enjoy every conversation we have, whether via digital or audio correspondence, and I was especially happy to meet you guys in person in Las Vegas over the summer.
What do you get when you gather three @RedChipPoker podcast hosts?
A great team!
Cheers to great meetings, fun dinners, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative efforts!
May they all bear much fruit.@SplitSuit @zacshaw pic.twitter.com/eM9avVkVEw
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) June 6, 2019
I envision and hope for a good deal of continued collaboration between us in the future, but 2019 was really the big “kickoff” for our relationship, and for that I am grateful.
My Big Name Cheering Squad
After being involved in this industry for a number of years, I’ve had the good fortune of befriending some truly special and highly accomplished people. They’re all genuinely giving, supportive, and quite happy to provide oodles of encouragement and advice without any expectation of getting anything in return. What sets these people apart in my mind, however, is that they’ve not only been in my corner during the upswings, but they’ve specifically stepped up when I’ve been down in the dumps.
There were unfortunately a few too many occasions in 2019 when I’ve had intense bouts of self-doubt, and it was at those times that some very special people reached out and couldn’t have been kinder to me.
Whether via lengthy phone calls, sending me bestselling motivational books, exchanging long soul-baring emails, or emotionally charged lengthy in-person conversations, you all helped me pick myself up and believe in myself again.
Thank you Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, Ory Weihs, Lance Bradley, and Eli Elezra. Your friendship means the world to me.
I included my wife, Miriam Shatsky, on my 2017 and 2018 thank you lists. When I told her that I was making another one this year I said: “Do I HAVE to put you on the list again? You know that I love you and frankly I can’t really top what I’ve already written about you over the last couple years, honey.”
Her reply was golden: “Actually I feel like you can…” 🙂
As always, she was right.
Being a self-employed married family man doing poker media work feels like a constant balancing act. To have any chance of success at either endeavor, you need to be fully invested… “all-in.”
I’ve waxed poetic about Miriam numerous times, but I’ve never thanked her as “part of my family.” She and my kids all make big sacrifices when I leave the country to be physically present in the poker world for any length of time. I can’t, don’t, and will never take this for granted. This past year I flew more than ever before and that wouldn’t be possible without my family’s support. The more you guys give to me, the more it just makes me want to give back to you and be the best husband and Dad I can be.
You guys might not know anything about poker, but somehow you understand what it means to me. Thank you. I love you.
Flying across the world to Las Vegas means I have to leave these four incredible people. Beyond all the obvious reasons, THEY are why I’m so ridiculously motivated to make the absolute most of my WSOP trips each year. If not for them, then for whom?
Stay focused, folks. Always. pic.twitter.com/2qncToL5N7
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) May 27, 2019
She’s smiling because she’s going to a Bon Jovi concert tonight.
I’m smiling because I’ve got a bunch of guys coming over for a poker home game.
Also, it’s our 17th anniversary today. 😉#luckiestguyintheworld pic.twitter.com/YUgvhb0K7X
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 25, 2019
Wishing everyone out there in the poker world a blessed, healthy, and happy New Year!