Many blogs attempt to quantify the daily feel of low stakes poker, especially from the enthusiast's point of view, and Just the Facts... a low stakes poker blog is a stellar example of such writing. A great deal of basic strategy and hand histories make this site a friend to those learning the game. Unlike the legendary Tony and his sprawling, dark, and maddening work cataloging the dregs of a casino-enchained soul - the gambling equivalent of the lonely guy who shows up at all the church functions - the self-appointed Poker Meister gives us convenient Post-its that a wife or loved one could easily use to find out what your average poker player thinks about.
Reflecting on the intersection of these two is somewhat interesting, as the two play the same stakes and even share some of the same online community.
I can’t seem to get my hands to hold up; last session I had KK, raised to $20. Got shoved over by a short stack to $36. Got 5 callers!!! Couldn’t re-open so just called. Beautiful flop of T 4 3. I bet $125 and everyone folds. Heads up with the short stacker who holds A T. A on the turn and I lose the pot. Another hand: I open to $25 with JJ against 2 limpers; I get one of the loose callers who snaps off my raise. K x x. Checks to me, I cbet $30. He calls. C/c turn & river and he flips Kh4h. WTF?
So representative, so perfect, yet so impersonal this prose could have been written by a thousand other players.
What is The Poker Meister's real story? Where do we find the heart of the matter in a blog that is all skin?
For better or worse, well-adjusted people, such as The Poker Meister, are not always aware of what is going on around them. In a recent post he finds an opponent who is "angry almost," when it is clear, even before the conflict is presented, that the villain is already livid. This is normal human behavior - we allow a certain amount of space for others because we allow it already for ourselves. Tony, on the other hand, is always rubbing up against these boundaries: pain is around his corner, but not here at Just the Facts.
It's no coincidence, therefore, that The Poker Meister's reflections ultimately share some of Tony's theme of collisions with his environment, because it's really about the limits of everyone in the many, many hands he covers- including his own. The key difference in both life, personality, and theme, however, is that The Poker Meister's wars, are all on the felt. Compartmentalization is often part of life success. Consider the following:
Her boyfriend plays more conservatively, but I’d rate him as around average; capable of making a move from time to time, but mostly ABC. He just watches her dump money, and continually replenishes her with additional buy-ins.
So, I see them walk in, and immediately request a table change to their table – a new table. Yes. I’m a bum hunter in this case.
What separates The Poker Meister's ability from The Boyfriend's? Not a great deal, most likely, yet we are supposed to care strictly because of the narrator's priority. This is the story and attitude of nearly all poker players, and The Poker Meister captures it photographically for posterity.
The Poker Meister gets away from this meme through his many trip reports. This is possibly the best side of Just the Facts. The Poker Meister records light detail from spots around the world and faithfully reports on poker game structures and conditions. If he could format his photos larger, or categorically bring these episodes to the foreground in some way, we'd see it all far more clearly and benefit more from his worthy reportage.
Nevertheless, a campaign-like slog of hand recapitulation remains this blog's lead product: these are the Facts in question. The Poker Meister is, without doubt, a low stakes hand history machine. Consider his astounding 350 posts (combined) under the labels Strategy and What Would You Do. I'm not sure where the place of this significant effort belongs, but it is worth reflecting on for those of you reading and writing about poker and who must therefore confront the simultaneously monumental and trivial nature of a player's body of work on the felt.
As a Blogger weblog, Just the Facts is in need of visual and layout improvement almost from ground zero, and the Poker Meister makes some good and bad choices in dealing with his template's and Google's limitations. Advertisements are prominently requested: one time opportunity! The blog links section is woefully out of date, advertising sites that haven't posted since spring, contributing to a neglected storefront.
On the other hand, his choice of text and contrast is simple and judicious: a big strength, as readability is primary to any blog. Blues, whites and some red highlights are smoothly deployed, reflect the Blogger task bar above, and are simply easy on the eyes. The choice of faded grey links on the right is also a nice touch, but the titles are unfortunately long and messy. Key to his presentation, the header is unbalanced in both senses, with the large uneven black spaces not reflected in the overall design or used to any effect at all, even though this is what the reader sees immediately. The subtitle itself disappears into the money, leaving a murky, sinking impression.
Speaking of which, all that cash is a bit sorrowful to behold as we read about The Poker Meister's fussing over two hundred dollars or find him taking a photo of a nice ass from miles away. Like many poker players, The Poker Meister entered the game dreaming of riches and fun but ended up obsessed by pocket change and small glimpses of the light. The Facts, it turns out, aren't always very exciting: some lying may be necessary.
The future of this steady blog is solid but maybe too much so, and the 'Shoe, as we read about constantly, fits all too well. We will hear more and more complaints in between triumphs over novice players at the bottom stake of one-two. And so the theme of collisions brings us full circle: we ultimately require more of our interlocutor than Just the Facts and Just the Felt to stay interested. After all, no one follows Tony for strategy, yet his story, as drawn out as the Poker Meister's endless hand histories, compels so much more attention.
Here's an alternative ending the Big Editor in the Sky hasn't discarded yet: The Poker Meister gathers his bankroll and his now significant poker knowledge, calls upon his competent writing style and all those damn hands, and starts reporting on taking shots at bigger games. He fights with the players and his wife. He talks about poker with his children. He confronts his weaknesses as a player and a human. He suffers and rejoices and we follow him on a big trip to Vegas to continue his nascent WSOP dreams - compelled by his struggle and his recognition that poker is more than a game.
Just the Hopes.
Posting Frequency: Strong
Design: Standard (Blogger)
Writing quality: Precise and conscientious
Overall rating: A9o