It’s like going home again. And by home, I don’t mean to invoke a Rockwellian ideal, baked in nostalgic fantasy. On the scale of dysfunction, it’s probably closer to Shameless than it is to Ozzie and Harriet. But by every measure, Dan Michalski and Pokerati are family.
This January, I started contributing to Pokerati, providing a few posts a month about the poker and gaming business. I still have my investment day job. And I’ll still navel gaze here on Aimlessly. But Dan made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: an outlet to write about the wildest and whackiest sector in the world, bar none. (And an opportunity, once again, to write-off my trips to Vegas as a business expense)
I first met Dan in the summer of 2004. He and Jay Greenspan were at my starting table of the Mid-America Poker Classic media event in Tunica, Mississippi. As I recall, Dan and Jay were both ex-editors of the now-defunct All-In Magazine. (At that point in time, All-In may have burned through more editors than it had released issues.)
I met up with Dan (pictured right) again at the 2005 WSOP — or what we all now look back on as the “Summer of Love” for poker media. It was the first year that the WSOP opened up coverage to non-traditional media outlets. And with the boom in online poker, the advertising — and hence pay for content providers — flowed like the booze at Full Tilt’s hospitality suite.
While I worked for a poker media outlet, Dan was there for his own blog, Pokerati. In the early days, Pokerati mostly chronicled the underground poker scene in Dallas. In this world, Dan cast himself as some sort of philanthropist; He viewed teaching strippers to deal poker as a jobs program. But as poker’s world widened, so did Pokerati’s.
In 2006, Dan scored a cushy job coordinating a poker blog for Party Gaming (now B.win Party). I signed on to cover the WSOP for him and the new blog in 2006. We’re not sure what Dan did that year, other than parade around in a pink Party polo shirt and his grandmother’s sunglasses (pictured below by his chips). But to his credit, he put together a great team including The Shrink, Change100, Tuscaloosa Johnny, April and more.
By the end of that year, the passage of the UIGEA had created a gaping fissure in poker’s once-lush landscape. In the spring of 2008, I went back to a day job in the investment world. And other than finishing the Matusow book, I wrote little about the world I had lived in for so long.
But I missed it. The poker and gaming space continued to fascinate me — the people, the shifting regulatory environment and the companies that struggled to rebuild themselves on uncertain terrain. And I never stopped following the business of poker and gaming, from the stoic to the absurd — from the masterful to the scandalous.
When Dan asked me if I’d consider contributing to Pokerati, it was like having Peter Pan invite you to Neverland for the weekends - an offer no Wendy could refuse.
Through the boom and the bust, Dan’s irreverent website Pokerati endured. I’m really not sure why. Compelling content? Delusion? Momentum? Sheer will? It really doesn’t matter. I’m just glad it did.