Year in Review…or not

I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of looking back over a year’s worth of posts and scribbles to tell you that this was a goofy year, one full of fun and change and upheaval and all sorts of other jazz. I started the year off right, getting in hot water with my boss at PokerNews and getting booted off a couple of assignments, which cut into my frivolous spending money a bit. Then I got back in the good graces of said boss in time to cover the WSOP for the third year, but then saw said boss get sacked at the end of the WSOP and a new boss be brought in. The new boss’s arrival (who I like and is doing a good job with the site, BTW) coincided with a desire to focus on work and creative writing, so I made what I think was a graceful exit from the employ of that site and focused on my poetry and fiction writing for most of the year.

It turns out that one of the best things for me as a writer was getting put on probation with PN back in the spring. It woke me up to the fact that while I was being paid (and paid well) to write for several years, what I was writing was formulaic crap. There really are only so many ways to say “he got all his money in ahead and lost, too bad” while trying to add some slight flavor to the story. My work for PN was pedestrian and followed a formula, but it was dependable and harmless. Kinda like chicken fingers. It’s hard to screw up, but there’s not a lot of flavor there, either. So from a purely financial standpoint, I miss doing that work (and am still available for hack jobs if anybody is hiring). But from a creative standpoint, I enjoy what I’m doing now much more. The edict for the PokerStars blog is different from the PN stylebook – I’m encouraged to be a little freer with the language and style and I’m not really supposed to follow the AP stylebook like I tried to do at PN. That makes it a little more fun to write, and I only do a couple of articles a month for them, so it’s less of a load on the whole day-job mortgage paying life, too. I could probably stand to pick up another 3-4 articles each month if anybody was looking, but barring the WSOP or another short-term high-intensity series of assignments, I’m mostly done as a poker writer.

And I’m not in much better shape as a player. This will mark my third losing year in a row, ranging from stuck a couple grand in 2007, to stuck less than a hundred bucks last year, to stuck about $1,500 this year. I do think that later in the year this year I made a few adjustments to my game that were good ones, and had it not been for a disastrous run at the WPBT trip I might have struggled back to even for the year. But I may have to look at the hard evidence that I’m a losing poker player and need to make some adjustments to my game. I definitely need to tighten up – a lot, and go back to the basics a bit. So I’ll start that quest on Friday with my annual pilgrimage to the House of Blood for the New Year’s Day tourney (won in 2006, cashed in 2008, I remain the only out-of-towner to ever win this event) and we’ll see where we go. Playing poker has taken a back seat to my creative writing work and the podcast later this year, so it’s more of a recreation to me than it has been in previous years. I still look at the WSOP schedule whenever it comes out and look at the NLHE Shootout event, thinking that if i can run the $200 in my Full Tilt account up to something close to the buy-in between now and summer I may take my shot. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s no big deal.

With the attempt to purchase my dad’s house in full swing I’m looking at options to make that work financially and I may end up sacrificing some long-term to make things work in the short term. If I take a bigger mortgage and use cash from that to pay off Suzy’s car and my student loan, then I can negotiate things so that I’m actually laying out less cash each month. Unfortunately that means I’m then paying off those things for the next 30 years instead of the next 3 and 5 respectively, but it may still be the best option I have to get this house purchase worked out and be able to afford everything. It means that I don’t have the nirvana of having an extra pile of cash each month in a few years, but it also means that I’ll own a 9-acre plot of land in the country that in a few years will generate enough each month to pay for itself.

If you’re in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, block off the evening of January 23rd for the next Carolina Writer’s Showcase at Story Slam. And I’ll be reading two original pieces at Just Do It on January 15th at Theatre Charlotte. Hope to see you there!

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