Interview with BJ Nemeth

By Robbie Strazynski
January 14, 2015

When the 2004 WSOP began, BJ Nemeth was unemployed with no prospects for work. One month later he was covering the WSOP Main Event as the lead reporter Card Player Magazine. He has worked for a variety of poker media outlets and has been a fixture at the WSOP for a decade (before skipping the 2014 incarnation), but his primary gig since 2007 has been as Lead World Poker Tour Reporter.

BJ Nemeth black and white

Lead World Poker Tour Reporter BJ Nemeth – Photo credit: Melissa Hayden

Aside from his main role in the industry, BJ has a number of other poker achievements to his credit, including being a lead industry analyst for the two-time award-winning podcast “The Poker Beat”, a two-time award nominee for “The Jess & BJ Show,” which recapped the daily action at WPT events with an offbeat, irreverent style, and an appearance as an industry analyst in the documentary “Bet, Raise, Fold”.

Finally, Nemeth has carved out a unique niche for himself over the years self-publishing “BJ’s Pocket Guide to the WSOP,” a small calendar/souvenir/good luck charm, which is always in hot demand both by his fellow poker media members as well as top poker pros at the World Series of Poker.

Whether you’ve met him in person, are familiar with his popular Twitter feed, or are just curious to learn more about someone who has been reporting major poker tournaments for more than a decade, BJ Nemeth is far more interesting than the slice of his personality that appears on the surface.

I want to publicly thank BJ for investing a veritable boatload of effort into this interview. The hours of research that went into crafting my questions pale in comparison to the time he dedicated to giving engaging, exhaustive answers that anyone – specifically poker fans – are guaranteed to lap up.

So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy Cardplayer Lifestyle’s exclusive interview with BJ Nemeth.

BJ Nemeth on TwitterWhat does BJ stand for?

“BJ” wasn’t supposed to stand for anything.

My parents both worked for General Motors in Detroit, when I was born, and I was named after the local hangout, “BJ’s Bar.”

When it was time to fill out my birth certificate, the nurse on duty refused to put down “BJ”; she demanded that I be given a proper first name and middle name (this was in 1972). Rather than fight it, my parents picked two random names that fit the initials, but my family and friends have always called me BJ. I specifically don’t use periods in my name, to signify that it wasn’t intended as an initialism.

I never give out the name that appears on my birth certificate unless absolutely necessary, primarily because I have no meaningful attachment to it. When someone calls out the first name that appears on my birth certificate, it doesn’t even register in my mind as relevant to me.

How did you first catch the poker bug?

My paternal grandmother was a recreational poker player and she used to visit Vegas or Atlantic City about once a year. When I was a child, she used pretzels to teach me how to play five-card draw and seven-card stud.

As I got older, I was fascinated by the romantic history of poker, particularly as a game for cowboys, but I only ever played it for very low stakes with friends (literal penny-ante games). It wasn’t about competition, but rather about having fun and imitating the classic poker clichés. My friends all smoked cheap cigars while we said things like “I see your 50, and raise you 100 more,” “Too rich for my blood,” etc.

I didn’t take poker seriously until the World Poker Tour (WPT) debuted in the spring of 2003, followed soon after by Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the WSOP Main Event. The inherent drama of no-limit Hold’em tournaments fascinated me (as it did so many people that year) and that was when I began taking the game seriously.

What work did you do before you broke into the poker world? Anything related to what you studied in college?

I graduated from the University of Georgia with a Journalism degree and I also took some graduate classes in screenwriting at UCLA. Even though I became a reporter, my studies focused more on TV and film production than news writing or reporting.

I’ve had a variety of different jobs in my life, but I’ll start with the one that surprises most people: the U.S. Navy.

BJ Nemeth Navy

I enlisted in the Navy during the first Gulf War (1991), which completely shocked my family and friends at the time. Already a freshman in college and getting excellent grades, I simply wasn’t the military type. So why enlist? Well, in the short term I wanted to face a big challenge (Boot Camp), and in the long term I wanted to broaden my horizons. Success on both counts – I excelled outside of my comfort zone and, true to the Navy’s slogan (“Join the Navy, See the World”), I served in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

Aside from the Navy, I’ve spent many years working in publishing, started a couple different small companies, and was even the campaign manager for a major-party candidate for U.S. Congress (he didn’t win). By the broadest definition, I have even been a professional dancer.

I had some magazine experience from my time in publishing and that is how I got my foot in the door at Card Player Magazine. Once there, I quickly transitioned from the Art Department to become their first Live Tournament Reporter.

You’re the lead tournament reporter for the WPT. What’s a typical day for you while on the job?

At its basic level, the role of a live tournament reporter is to walk through the field, take detailed notes while observing the action on the felt, and report it online for people who are following the event live (the TV coverage usually airs months later).

BJ Doft Pasalic Lucchesi

At work, reporting during a WPT Final Table. From left to right: Tatjana Pasalic, Ryan Lucchesi, Mickey Doft, and BJ Nemeth.

Most WPT events are 5–6 days long and each day has a different feel to it and a different focus for us as reporters.

On Day 1 there is a large number of players and a low number of interesting hands to report, so it can be tough to find a hand that reaches showdown, much less a big pot or an all-in situation. Chip counts fill an important role on Day 1 as they allow readers to quickly scan and see who has entered the tournament as well as who is doing well, who is short on chips, and who has busted out early.

Twitter is particularly useful to us on Day 1. Players tend to tweet more frequently on the early days, which effectively turns them into embedded reporters for us. They’ll tweet their chip counts, key hands, and even interesting table talk and prop bets. We’ll follow-up on the most interesting tweets to verify them and add more context to the situation.

On Day 2 the field is usually still too large to learn all the players’ names, but registration has closed and re-entry tournaments have become freezeouts. There is much more action to report, so our job gets easier in that sense. (Did I mention how difficult it is to find interesting hands on Day 1?) Twitter is still very useful to us on Day 2.

BJ Nemeth winner photo with cash

As a poker reporter, BJ sees many players in this pose. It’s fun to dream once in a while though… (Taken at 2007 WSOP)

Day 3 is usually when the field makes the money, and the money bubble is one of the key storylines for any tournament. We can usually track all of the players from the start of Day 3 (thanks to the amazing Mickey Doft), and there is a lot of action to report.

Day 4 is usually what we call the “Playdown Day”, when the field starts with 2–4 tables and plays down to the final six players that make up a televised WPT Final Table.

On the Playdown Day, our goal is to report every hand of consequence, including every all-in situation. At each break, we’ll take an official chip count for every player, down to the last chip. This is a very busy day for us, but it’s usually my favorite day of the entire tournament.

From my experience, the Playdown Day has the most interesting, dramatic hands – yes, even compared to the final table. This is the day when you’ll find big, dramatic confrontations between chipleaders. Once the field is down to the final 10 players, they combine to a single table. That’s when we begin our hand-for-hand coverage, reporting every single check, bet, call, raise, and fold. One reporter records the action at the table, handing off notebook pages to the other reporter (usually me) who types them up and publishes online. Even though we are reporting every single hand, our job actually becomes easier at this point because all the action is at one table.

WPT Final Table set

The set of a World Poker Tour final table, with reporters like BJ Nemeth working hard nearby

At the official WPT Final Table, our job changes again. We’re still providing hand-for-hand coverage, but the process is much different. We’re no longer allowed near the table (which is now on a TV set), so we stay seated on Media Row, watching the action on a monitor and listening to the announcer for all the betting information.

I type up all the hands, recording every action as it is announced. Fellow reporter Mickey Doft is usually sitting next to me, tracking the chip counts during each hand. As soon as a hand ends, Mickey will have the chip counts ready within 5–10 seconds and then I type them into the hand update and post it. Most hands at a WPT Final Table are reported live on within about 30 seconds.

Even though we’re sitting the entire time, final tables are mentally exhausting because we have to stay completely focused. There is no instant replay, and we can’t interrupt the TV production.

What are the best, coolest, and most difficult parts about your job? What’s your top poker career highlight?

As anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest, I love the travel. I love going to new places, I love going to different places, and I even love the process of traveling. I understand the physics of flight, but I’m still amazed by it and I always request a window seat so I can get a perspective on the world that our ancestors could only dream about.

I also love the on/off nature of the work. When I’m at a tournament, I work my butt off for a week or so, but then I get to go home and relax for days or weeks. I have high inertia (when I’m in motion, I stay in motion; when I’m at rest, I stay at rest), and this type of work schedule fits me perfectly.

The coolest part of the job is interacting with the players themselves. Let’s face it; poker players are pretty fascinating creatures. Poker players at the highest levels are usually quite smart, but they’ve chosen an unusual, high-risk path for their lives. When I’m mingling with friends outside of the industry, they’re always fascinated by my stories of the players.

BJ Nemeth Kara Scott Jedi

BJ Nemeth and Kara Scott battle each other with lightsabers in a more lighthearted moment during the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Photo credit: Melissa Hayden

The most difficult part of the job for me is probably remembering the names of all the players. At least a dozen times per tournament I’ll talk to a player who I recognize (and who recognizes me) but be unable to recall their name. There are simply too many of them!

It’s tough to pick a single top highlight, so I’ll simply pick the earliest top highlight in my career, which was the first time I realized I was reporting a historical moment in poker.

It was at the 2005 WSOP and Johnny Chan was playing heads-up against Phil Laak on ESPN’s main stage while Jennifer Tilly was dominating the final table of the Ladies Event about 50 feet away. You had one of the most famous and fun players (Laak), his Academy Award-nominated girlfriend (Tilly), and a player trying to become the first in history to win 10 WSOP bracelets (Chan). Everyone in the Amazon Room knew that history was on the line and it was my job to put that feeling into words for everyone who couldn’t be there in person – along with reporting all of the poker action, of course. It was an amazing feeling and a humbling responsibility.

Chan won his 10th bracelet that night (breaking a four-way tie with Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth) and the next night Tilly won her first. (Laak would have to wait five more years before winning his first in 2010.)

My least favorite part of the poker industry might be the fact that women only make up about 5% of the field in major tournaments. I’m sure the causes for this are complex, but I’m equally sure it’s a clear sign of sexism (both latent and active) within the industry.

Read: Why Don’t More Women Play Poker? Leading Poker Ladies Unite for Change

If any other industry with a gender-neutral product (like computers, or bicycles, or whatever) learned that 95% of their customers were men, their top priority would be to figure out how to reach more women. If you could balance the ratio from 95-to-5 to 50-50 while keeping the number of men constant, that would represent growth of 90% – enough to be considered another poker boom.

It seems like working for the WPT means you’re “part of a family.” What’s it like working with the rest of the crew, like Mike Sexton, Tony Dunst, Lynn Gilmartin, etc.?

When you work with someone in a standard office, you generally get to know one side of them – they become a “work friend.” But when you travel and live and work long hours on the road with someone, you also get to know a different side of them, a more personal side. So, the people you work most closely with – in my case, tour management, producers, and fellow reporters – become like a second family.

BJ Dunst Lucchesi

BJ on a morning pre-tournament hike in South Korea with other members of the WPT family — Tony Dunst (left) and Ryan Lucchesi (center)

I don’t spend as much time with the talent, but I still see them often enough that they’re like extended family. Lynn Gilmartin is probably the closest to us on the WPT Live Updates crew because she got her start covering tournaments for, so she’s spent plenty of time “in the trenches.”

During my career I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several current and future Poker Hall of Famers who’ve had a huge, positive impact on the industry, most notably Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, and Matt Savage. The fact that I’ve also become friends with them is an amazing bonus.

Your love for travel is incredibly well-documented through almost 50,000 tweets and over 3,500 pictures. I read a very inspiring blog post of yours about how you “found yourself” back in 2009 when traveling by car to the WSOP. Tell us about your love for travel and how that relates to what you post on your Twitter feed.

I love everything about travel and always have; as far back as I can remember.

I love going anyplace that I’ve never been before. I also love going anyplace that I’ve been but haven’t seen as much of as I’d like. I love everything from the busiest cities to the most distant parts of the natural world.

BJ elephant selfie

BJ on safari in Tanzania

But, as mentioned, I love the actual traveling parts, too. I love road trips, I love flying in planes, and I love riding on trains and boats and horses. I even love walking and hiking and running. If I were born in an earlier era, I’m fairly certain that I would’ve been an explorer.

I probably love road trips the most because they give me the most flexibility, as I can change my plans at a moment’s notice. Some of my most interesting adventures have resulted from a last-minute change in plans.

A key factor influencing my original love of road trips was the drop in gas prices in the late 1980s. I turned 16 years old (the legal driving age in Georgia) in 1988, and gas prices were at a historic low (when adjusting for inflation). I was paying less than 75 cents/gallon in Atlanta (= under 20 cents/liter).

I had already saved up enough money (from mowing lawns and babysitting) to buy a cheap used car – a Black 1983 Honda Civic ‘S’ Hatchback that got about 35 miles/gallon (15 km/liter) – and I quickly realized that an $8 tank of gas was enough for me to drive more than 350 miles. So that’s what I did. I would pick a spot on the map that I had never been to before and I’d drive there, usually eating McDonald’s cheeseburgers along the way.

Nowadays, my love for travel is enhanced by Twitter.

I’m fortunate enough to have almost 8,000 followers who live all over the U.S. and the rest of the world. Even when I’m traveling alone (or with my dog Brisco), it’s like I have my Twitter followers with me, commenting on my photos of the places I visit and making recommendations of what I should see next. I get a lot of joy out of Twitter when I travel.

That led to the concept of #TwitterSouvenirs, which are cheap souvenirs (usually $12 or less) that I buy during my travels and then give away to random Twitter followers in an annual drawing. For example, the most desired item last year was a Mickey Mouse popcorn bucket from Tokyo Disneyland.

BJ Nemeth Twitter souvenir

One of BJ’s favorite Twitter souvenirs, a Mickey Mouse Popcorn Bucket from Tokyo Disneyland

I accumulated dozens of souvenirs in 2014 from Paris, Italy, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Pixar Animation Studios, and the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as a few other places. I’ll be giving away everything from an autographed baseball to a miniature Leaning Tower of Pisa to a LEGO minifigure of a yeti that has actually been to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I usually hold the annual drawing at the end of the year or the beginning of the following year.

Obviously, many of your trips are taken for work purposes. This is common among members of the poker media. I’m sure lots of people are curious how that whole arrangement works — especially when you’ll be working for multiple outlets, such as when you’re at the WSOP. In other words, how does it get decided which entity reimburses you for which expenses (i.e., flight, hotel, rental car, WiFi, food) or is it a per diem thing, etc.?

The WPT books all of my flights and hotels for me, so I don’t need to pay anything out of pocket. I get to submit a request for specific flights I’d like to take, as long as they’re reasonably close to the cheapest options.

I don’t receive any per diem or food allowance, but the host casinos often provide us some free options, such as employee dining (thank you!).

BJs WSOP pocket guide

BJ’s Pocket Guide to the WSOP (self-published) enjoys tremendous popularity among big-name poker pros and the poker media community

For the WSOP, I don’t have a regular employer, though in recent years I’ve freelanced for For most of my summer WSOP gigs, I’m responsible for all of my own expenses (travel, food, etc.), though I did stay at the PokerListings house one summer (which is always fun).

I drive to Vegas for the WSOP so I can have both my car and my dog Brisco with me for the summer. It’s also an opportunity for Brisco and I to take another cross-country road trip, which is always an adventure.

In terms of travel that’s not covered by work, you do a lot of exploring on your own. How do you manage to get so much sightseeing in while on a budget and while working long days at tournaments?

For most U.S. stops, I usually fly in the night before the tournament begins and fly home the morning after it ends. I’ve been to Vegas, Los Angeles, and Atlantic City more than enough times to get my fill of sightseeing.

However, when I’m on an international trip for work I want to take advantage of the opportunity as much as possible. If I can schedule myself an extra day or two ahead of time (especially if jet lag is a factor), that’s perfect. I also spend a lot of time researching flight options to schedule my layovers in interesting places. In the past year, extended layovers are responsible for my two trips to Tokyo and three separate day trips in Paris.

BJ Nemeth Kilamanjaro

BJ above the clouds, shortly after sunrise on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Some people are exhausted by international travel, but I’m energized by it – and I’m lazy compared to my fellow reporter Ryan Lucchesi. He is the master at finding the most interesting things to do on a budget in a foreign city with even a minimal amount of time available. He’s better than a guidebook.

When we received our first reporting assignment in South Africa last February, it was Ryan who recognized it as an opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. He did all the research and planning for himself and an old friend from college, and they were nice enough to let me tag along on the experience of a lifetime.

Name five places you’ve never been before and would love to go (and why).

1.  Space

Space really is the Final Frontier, where even the everyday physics we’re used to are turned upside-down. I hope space tourism goes mainstream during my lifetime, but I don’t like my chances. My most realistic option is to fly on a Vomit Comet, which is simply a large plane flown in a parabolic pattern that simulates weightlessness for brief periods. It costs about $5,000 and it’s something I’d like to do within the next 5-10 years.

BJ Nemeth at NASA's Johnson Space Center

BJ at the original Apollo Mission Control, NASA’s Johnson Space Center

2.  Disneyland’s Club 33

I’ve always loved Disney, from the classic films to the theme parks. Club 33 is a secretive members-only exclusive club within Disneyland. It was built in 1967, but I didn’t even know it existed until the late 90s. The mystique of it fascinates me and I’d love to have lunch or dinner there just once. If anybody reading this can get me in, please let me know @BJNemeth on Twitter.

3.  Australia

Australia has fascinated me since I was a kid. In middle school there was an assignment where we had to plan an international vacation, picking flights, hotels, and places to visit. (This was much more difficult in the days before Internet access; I actually had to contact travel agents!) I chose Australia, and it’s been the #1 country on my list to visit for most of my life. I was really hoping to make it for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney (I love the Olympics, and I’ve been to three of them), but I simply couldn’t afford it at the time. I plan to cash in my frequent flier miles for a two-week trip to Australia in 2016.

4.  The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of engineering, and I really want to ride a boat or a ship through the locks. I love the history behind it and the engineering skill required to build it in the early 20th century (it opened in 1914). I recently priced the trip at less than $2,000 and I plan to visit within the next two years.

5.  Trinity Test Site and a Nuclear Missile Silo

These are technically two different locations, but they’re both within New Mexico and part of the same theme. Detonation of the first nuclear bomb is one of the key moments in human history and one of the two most ambitious scientific achievements of humankind (along with the Apollo moon landings), requiring a massive coordinated effort of a major country devoted to the purpose regardless of cost. This isn’t a particularly expensive trip, but the timing is tough because the Trinity Test Site is only open to visitors one day each year.

Based on your Twitter pictures, you seem to have quite the hankering for McDonald’s. It seems to be your home away from home anywhere you go. Moreover, you seem to have quite the sweet tooth. In light of Super Size Mearen’t you the least bit concerned about eating a bit healthier?

I think my love for McDonald’s comes across differently than it actually is. People assume that it’s my favorite food, but it isn’t. McDonald’s doesn’t even rank near my top 10 favorite restaurants in terms of food.

What I love about McDonald’s is the consistency. Pretty much anywhere around the world, I can find a McDonald’s and order a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. The Big Mac will taste like a Big Mac, the fries will taste like fries, and the Coke will taste like a Coke (that’s less common than it should be in restaurants). As a bonus, the entire meal will be quick and relatively cheap.

McDonalds Montreal

BJs go-to food all over the world. Pictured: A Big Mac and poutine, at McDonalds in Montreal

When I’m traveling, I don’t like wasting time in restaurants. I’m not an adventurous eater, and I want a quick, cheap, reliable meal that will fill me up and get me back to the things I prefer doing; e.g., sightseeing. The exception to this is when I’m traveling to visit someone. In that case, eating dinner in a nice restaurant is a great way to relax and have a good conversation.

Because I’ve been to McDonald’s so many times, it’s very familiar to me and that familiarity is welcome when I’m in a foreign country. There’s an interesting mix of the foreign and familiar that I love when I visit a foreign McDonald’s.

Is McDonald’s the healthiest food option? Of course not, but my body has always handled it well. I’m 5’10”, and I’ve weighed about 145 pounds (68 kilos) since I was 16. Regardless of how much I eat or how much I exercise, my weight has always hovered around that mark.

When people talk about healthy living, they usually focus on diet and exercise, but there’s far more to it than that.

BJ Nemeth dog Brisco eats McDonalds

I’ve never been a smoker, I’ve never tried drugs, I rarely drink alcohol, and I’ve aced every physical exam I’ve ever been given. I avoid stress, get plenty of sleep, and I always “listen” to my body, which has never failed me or held me back from doing the things I’ve wanted to do. I’ve run marathons, hiked the Appalachian Trail (not the entire thing), taken a 50-state road trip, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (at age 42) without any training beyond walking my dog Brisco.

I understand that past results are no guarantee of future performance, but so far, so good.

With all of the traveling, I find it difficult to imagine you still actually play in any home games. With all of the poker work you do, I find it difficult to believe you get in any time to actually play the game at all. If you love the game so much, when and how do you find time to actually play poker?

When I first entered the poker industry in 2004, I was a full-time poker player living in Las Vegas. I was a good player, not great, but the games were so incredibly soft back then that it was easy for even a decent player to make money.

Unfortunately, once I became a full-time traveling tournament reporter, I didn’t have any time to play for about two years. I was okay with that because I enjoy reporting on poker more than actually playing it. By the time my schedule opened up a bit, I had moved back to Atlanta where there are no casinos nearby. Online poker has never appealed to me as much as live poker.

Read: 17 Ways to Spot Online Poker Players at Live Poker Tables

Poker is the type of game where if you aren’t getting better, you’re probably getting worse. After not playing much for a couple of years, I was definitely worse, at a time when the average player was getting better and better. So, nowadays I only play poker for fun, and never for the goal of making money.

With so much time spent on the road, what’s home life like in Atlanta?

I used to do freelance work between tournaments, but several years ago I made the decision to reduce my between-tournament workload to zero. The reasoning is a bit complicated, but, to make a long story short, I realized that the relatively small amount of money I was earning from freelance work wasn’t worth the added stress in my life. The kind of freelance work I did was hardly stressful by most people’s standards, but the alternative – which is my work-free life at home – is so much better.

When I return home after a tournament, I have zero work-related responsibilities until the next tournament. All I have to do is remember when my next flight is (usually 1–3 weeks away) and pack my bags the night before. Other than that, I have complete freedom to do whatever I’d like for as long as I’d like. Sometimes I take road trips, sometimes I work on personal projects, and sometimes I don’t do anything at all, opting to just sit in my pajamas and play videogames or watch movies for a week straight.

You’ve mentioned Brisco a few times. He’s even got his own Twitter account. You also used to have another dog, Rhapsody. Tell us more about your love for dogs and a little about the ones you’ve owned.

While my family had a small dog when I was little, my feelings toward dogs grew out of movies and TV more than anything else. The most famous example that illustrates this is Toto from “The Wizard of Oz.”

BJ Nemeth dog Rhapsody Grand Canyon

BJ’s dog, Rhapsody, at the Grand Canyon

Toto was a major character. Dorothy talked to Toto, and he often drove the plot forward. It was Toto that led the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion to the Witch’s castle to save Dorothy. It was Toto that pulled back the curtain to reveal that the wizard was actually an old man. Of course, it was also Dorothy’s love for Toto that made her decide to run away from home in the first place. When dogs are memorable in movies and TV, it’s usually because they’re treated as major characters, like Toto.

So, I always wanted a dog of my own, and I wanted my dog to be a major character, like Toto.

I adopted Rhapsody (named after my favorite song, George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue”) at the Atlanta Humane Society in late 1996 when she was about two months old (and I was 24). Rhapsody’s mother was a Basset Hound and her father was a German Shorthaired Pointer. She lived a pretty good life, going on a lot of adventures – from hiking in the Rocky Mountains to witnessing a Space Shuttle launch to visiting the Grand Canyon to the aforementioned 50-state road trip.

Rhapsody died of natural causes in May, 2011, about three months shy of her 15th birthday. Her bond with me was as strong as you’ll ever see, and it pains me to think that I’ll never love anything as much as she loved me. I cried more after Rhapsody’s death than I have ever cried before or since.

I adopted Brisco (named after a mid-1990s TV western “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”) at the Atlanta Humane Society in late 2012 when he was about three months old. His mother was an Australian Cattle Dog, and his father is unknown, likely a mutt. Brisco is much more active than Rhapsody ever was, and frequent walks are mandatory or else he goes crazy with energy. On the plus side, his near-constant energy keeps me from becoming too sedentary when I’m home in Atlanta.

BJ Nemeth and Brisco road trip

BJ and Brisco on a road trip

While Brisco has a Twitter account, I created it primarily so I could reference it in my own tweets, so people who didn’t know me well would understand I was referring to my dog and not a person.

Also, “major characters” deserve their own Twitter account, don’t you think?

BJ Nemeth's dogs, Brisco and Rhapsody, on Twitter

You’ve got an eponymously named website, Having read your writings and listened to your podcasts, I must say I’m supremely impressed. You don’t post new content there too frequently though. What inspires you to write and record podcasts?

For the past 7–8 years, when I’ve had something to say, I’ve usually posted it on Twitter. Twitter is an amazing medium, but there are a lot of things that I’d like to say that don’t fit into 140 characters (as you can tell by this interview).

The heading on my website reads, “ A Place for Me to Put Things on the Internet.” It sounds silly in its broad simplicity, but I don’t want it to be too focused on any one subject.BJ Nemeth website

I plan to write some posts called “BJ’s Stuff,” where I recommend some of the things that I love the most, like my titanium spork or the Tom Bihn bags that travel with me everywhere. I’d like to do a long-running series where I watch every episode of “The Simpsons.” I’ll also blog about movies, poker, technology, politics, and anything else that I have given a lot of thought to.

Another page on the site is my photo blog, which will serve as a permanent compilation of the most interesting photos that I post to Twitter. I recently received my full Twitter archive, and plan to start uploading older photos as well as new ones soon.BJ Nemeth adopts Brisco podcast

My podcast (simply called “BJ’s Podcast”) is along the same lines as the blog, but for those times when I feel that audio is a better medium than the written word. I recorded an episode with Brisco the day I adopted him, and that’s my historical record for that day. I also interviewed my 12-year-old niece as I was driving her to Space Camp last year, and that’s something else that will be fun to listen to again when she’s older.

Once 2015 gets some time under its belt, I hope to “officially” (re-)launch my website and begin regularly posting content.

For a while, on Twitter, you had been alluding to a major book publishing project. It seems to have just now started appearing online, in parts. Care to tell us more about it?

It’s a semi-autobiographical time travel novel titled “Leap Year: 365 Days in the Life of a Time Traveler.”

I’ve been working on this story for more than 20 years, and my plan for the past decade has been to self-publish it in 2015. As you might expect, it’s been consuming a lot of my time in recent months, as the deadline approached.

The book is 365 chapters long, with one chapter set to be released online every day of 2015. Each chapter will be published online for free at (@LeapYearNovel on Twitter), and there will also be an accompanying audiobook-podcast. If you’d like to spend a couple of bucks, you can receive the chapters directly via daily or weekly emails.

Leap Year Novel

The story is told out of narrative order, with the first chapter taking place on January 1, 1994, the second on January 2, 2000, and so on, until December 31. The timeline of the book will cover most of the 20th century, until the present day.

It’s an extremely ambitious project and also tremendously personal. While I’m not sure anyone will like it, I’m writing it more for myself. This isn’t just my story, it’s the story of Me.

We’ve covered a ton, and despite not having met you BJ, I feel like I know you now. I’m sure many readers who’ve gotten this far feel the same. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the (poker) world?

It took me nearly two months to compile my answers to these 17 questions. There was certainly some procrastination on my part, but I also spent a surprising amount of time pondering these answers; even things as seemingly simple on the surface as my feelings about McDonald’s.BJ Nemeth headshot

My first draft of this interview was nearly 20,000 words. (Yes, really.) While I’m sure the edited version will be far more concise, it’s hard for me to not be comprehensive to a fault. 🙂



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]



I’m sorry but no mention of The Waffle House?


Well, I didn’t edit any Waffle House references out, but perhaps BJ culled it from his first 20,000-word draft 😉

Great article about one of my favorite guys. Have known BJ for 10 (?) years and have enjoyed every moment we’ve spent together. Good to learn some things I didn’t know. Hope our paths coincide more over the coming year. Good stuff….. always enjoy Robbie’s writing as well! Surprised no mention of the Sandwich/hoagie place you love so much, like the Waffle House! From the HPT cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas, good going guys!
Jan Fisher


Thanks for the kind words, as well as for sharing Jan! 🙂 That you learned something new about BJ after 10 years of knowing him is exactly the type of reaction we were hoping for 😉 Enjoy the cruise!

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