Do you want me to be authentic? Do you want me to have an honest opinion? Do you want to be interested in what I'm saying? Do you want to be intrigued?
Or do you want me to bury my opinion underneath the wage I’m paid for writing this? Disinfect my words? Protect a brand? Keep poker players happy?
I've always tried to write in a style that I would want to read. I choose topics that are controversial and that other writers don’t want to touch with a shitty bargepole.
But I feel like I might be a dying breed.
I Like the Vanessa Selbst View on Life
Selbst: Not afraid of the unconventional line.
I was recently talking to former European Poker Tour (EPT) Champion Mickey Petersen about the game of Vanessa Selbst.
Astutely, he said “She is one of those people who have an uncanny ability to 'guess' right more than anyone else and is not afraid to look stupid or take unconventional lines.”
I like the Vanessa Selbst view on life. I like to take the unconventional line when it comes to writing. I understand that this often makes me look stupid, but just like Vanessa I am fine with it.
When Manchester United were being hammered by Manchester City the other week it was a pleasant surprise to see retired United lifer Paul Scholes sitting in the pundit’s chair.
What was even more surprising was what came out of his mouth.
The man who avoided the public spotlight for so much of his career suddenly reminded us why he is respected by so many of the world’s greatest football players and coaches.
He spoke his mind.
Breathing New Life Into Football Commentary
He had an opinion, knew that not everyone would like it and he shared it anyway.
He told the world of football that Man Utd players had let David Moyes down. That Marouane Fellaini “Has not been great, has he?”
If footballers aren't immune from critique, why should poker players be?
And then he lashed out at the Arsenal players for playing "tippy-tappy football" and said they are a "million miles away" from winning the league.
Social media lit up in praise of Scholes because he was breathing "new life" into a job that had become stale.
When was the last time you heard a SkySports commentator say that a player was truly awful? It doesn’t happen.
Yet if you turn on the radio and listen to TalkSport and the likes of Stan Collymore you'll hear him call a player a donkey without batting an eyelid.
Let the Dirty Words Flow
Collymore, Scholes and to a certain extent Gary Neville are starting to make football punditry and commentary a little bit more interesting because they're airing their opinions.
They're touching nerves. They’re saying what’s on everyone’s lips. They’re throwing the disinfectant down the drain and just letting their dirty words flow.
I love dirty words.
Back to poker. There aren’t enough people with an opinion. Or at least it has the feel of a group of people at times afraid to miss out on the check.
Poker literature is becoming boring. Tedious. Repetitive. Commentary is in danger of going the same route.
If Blom makes a howler, we should hear about it.
If a player’s made a howler I want to hear the commentator have an opinion. And he doesn’t have to have "played poker at the highest level" to have an opinion.
That’s utter nonsense.
Take Unconventional Lines
There are some very bright, sharp-witted poker writers and commentators out there. People with a great understanding of the game and the ability to make the mundane seem magical.
Let's let them loose. If they say that a big-name sponsored pro has played a hand like an idiot will the company/site suddenly lose a few players? Of course not.
Gus Hansen and Viktor Blom regularly lose a few million dollars a week online and they're still (fairly) the faces of Full Tilt Poker. So when did being “great” at poker have anything to do with the price of cheese?
Let’s push poker writers and poker commentators to take the Vanessa Selbst line. Push them (and me) to surprise us. To be aggressive.
To take unconventional lines and sometimes look a little stupid while we're at it. It will make our poker world a much more interesting place.