Saturday, September 16, 2006

Are Poker Blogs Dying?

The "sky is falling" sentiment hidden in above is a topic for discussion this week, as several poker bloggers have posted about the recent dearth of new posts by many of the blogging world's most well-known pokerists ("pokerists" being something like "shootists," I guess), plus the moving on to other pastures of one or two big names. There's no doubt that poker blogs are in a state of transition.

But dying? Mercy, no.

Two processes seem to be at work here, combining to make all of poker-bloggerdom look a bit unsettled at the moment. One is the naturally high turnover that poker blogs and bloggers suffer. Folks start a blog with good intentions, and poker blogs are wryly reminiscent of the wit who once opined that there are two types of songs --- those that are about sex, and those that aren't. In terms of poker blogs, the split is between those that are diaries about one's own poker game and experiences, and those that are largely about other things, usually the life and world of poker.

Most people find the first type of poker blog a bit boring and tedious after a while, unless the blogger/player is exceptionally talented or has other things to share. Rizen (Eric Lynch) and Doubleas (Scott Gallant) are two exceptional examples of this type of blog --- each has grown, thrived, and prospered. But most people aren't Rizen or Scott, and so they hit a wall, with few readers and not much new to say to those who visit. So the blogs wither and die.

It happens in clumps, though, this secondary die-off. Most bloggers become part of a localized group of friends, sharing links and swapping stories, and when small groups like this lose a few members in short order, than it's like the loss of critical mass to that group. What's not realized, however, when you're in one of the groups, is that other, new groups are constantly forming and emerging. And these blogs will be every bit the same (wry smile, here) --- some will be about poker-sex(!) and some won't. And some will live and prosper, while others will soon be forgotten.

And that's all just the first half.

Second, and perhaps more important in the long run, is the emergence of several compendium blogs. The biggest and splashiest of these has to be the efforts at, which now features entries from several big poker-writing names, many of whom use the site to cross-post from their own blogs as well. Compendium blog-style sites, even in poker, aren't new; other examples include The Card Squad, Up For Poker, Wicked Chops, Linda Geenen's Poker Works, and at least a couple of others. Think of them as the airline "hub" cities of the poker-blogger world.

The reasons for their evolution and emergence are easy to see. First of all, the combining of content under a single site is very pitchable to outside sponsors. Second, it's easy to attract big names (even player-types who don't write very much), who know they don't have to carry the whole load on the site. Third, it's an easy way to leverage and separate the compendium site from the sea of more modest blogs, good or bad. Readers don't really save clicks, but they save the work of investing those clicks into something that might not be worth the effort. The best compendium sites have a well-established bottom line for quality; visitors can almot always count on finding something new that's worth the read.

Compendium blogs aren't just here to stay; they're only going to get more prominent, because the logic of the poker-blog market --- and yes, it IS a market --- demands that a new format adds additional structure to an otherwise all-but-unsurfable sea. That said, the best of the single-person independent voices and sites will never go away, because that's part of poker blogging, too.

Nor is poker blogging dying. Individual poker blogs die all the time, but there are hundreds of them out there, perhaps as many as a thousand. More poker blogs than ever before. Poker, poker, poker...

You get the point.

1 comment:

Nancy Garero said...

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