There are many popular casino-style games, but nothing matches the growth and popularity of poker and how poker influences society. Poker writing covers limitless topics in the gaming world; and poker writing can be a blend of journalism, feature writing, sports writing, entertainment writing, travel writing, food writing, technical writing, and so on, depending on what you choose to write.
WHAT DOES FREELANCE POKER WRITING INCLUDE?
You might think "freelance poker writing" is exactly that: writing about poker games. You might also think poker writing is about writing for one specific market: poker magazines. This might have been true years ago, but not so today. The expanding market of online and offline poker and gaming magazines is one small fragment, out of dozens of paying markets, to find freelance work. The Internet has spawned many online writing opportunities, such as blogging, writing for poker and gaming websites, self-publishing, and writing SEO articles for companies and affiliates. And "poker writing" is more than writing about the games of poker. Poker writing encompasses the influences of poker, such as entertainment, technology, psychology, law, lifestyle, money, travel, and so on. Writing about poker and gaming, along with their influences on society, is limitless.
Many successful freelance writers tap into an arsenal of online and offline media outlets to sell their work, not just to poker and gaming magazines. Their recipe for success is simple: they write varied topics related to poker and gaming that don’t just fit into a specific poker magazine, but also fit (with some reslanting) into many other non-poker magazines and media outlets (i.e. trade magazines, regional magazines, newsletters, tourism guides, newspapers, websites, blogs, ebooks, etc.) that cover varied subjects (such as gambling, gaming, professional sports, sports betting, travel, lifestyle, women’s issues, money, finance, real estate, hobbies, and so on).
WHY POKER IS ON THE MINDS OF SO MANY PEOPLE
To write about poker, you need to know why it is on the minds of so many people. Why all the excitement? What do players see in a little game of cards? Many people fall in love with playing poker because it challenges the mind; poker games are thrilling and competitive; and let’s face it, we love the winnings. The winnings in poker games, even online, can trail with many zeros. What other game can you play with a $40 entry fee and win a couple of hundred thousand dollars, or as with WSOP winners, several million? It’s what lures the crowds to the game. Once players begin to play, everyone is a legend in their own mind. The enticement and excitement of winning drives players to want to play more. Typically, players just play more and more once they discover Texas Hold’em.
Even if you aren’t playing poker for the money, you will quickly become aware of the jackpots of money that poker players play for online and offline. Many people play poker because of the great challenges of the mind. Amarillo Slim (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarillo_Slim), another legendary poker player once said, “Poker is a game of people….It’s not the hand I hold, it’s the people that I play with.” Most of the older players do play with dollar signs glinting in their eyes. On the other hand, if you read some of the articles written about Slim in the past, you’ll discover he enjoyed beating his opponents as much as anyone else.
Guru.com, CraigsList.com and Elance.com showcase job postings for many different freelance opportunities. If you have the skills to write on gambling, specifically poker, then you’ll never be short on writing gigs.
In fact, a search on a handful of job boards produced many writing opportunities, from blog posting, to writing articles on poker games and strategies.
POKER WRITING OPPORTUNITIES
If you want to write about poker and gaming, the opportunities are there. If you are educated about poker and you can write well, the opportunities will be endless. However, you have to be better than average to earn a decent income as freelance poker writer. You must know your “stuff” in this field.
Writing about poker and its players requires you to learn about the games of poker and about the players whom people want to read. For instance, Doyle Brunson and Amarillo “Slim” Preston are two old timers who many consider two of the last living legends of the game. However, Brunson pulls a crowd more so than Preston. People look for articles, books and information on Doyle Brunson because he is still an active player in Las Vegas. Furthermore, Brunson lives where poker rooms are on every corner, whereas Amarillo Slim lives in, well, you guessed it—Texas!
A freelance poker writer has many opportunities. For starters, a poker writer can write from home because of the online games and tournaments. The online poker rooms (the ones offering the large satellite tournaments) are newsworthy as are many of the sit and go tournaments that offer large purses. Writers find ample topics and stories to pull from in this capacity alone. People want to read what’s going on in the online poker rooms. As a new writer, you need to write as much as you can on the subject of poker no matter where people play it.
In addition to the newsworthy opportunities online, web content is a huge marketplace for freelance writers. Writers who can write content-rich articles related to poker and gambling are in high demand.
To succeed as a poker writer, you will need to find your niche. However, you don’t necessarily have to stay within your niche market. Many writers will write on poker and cover online and offline games. They’ll cover the World Poker Tour for an offline gambling magazine one day and write an informative “How to Spot a Poker Cheat” article the next day for an online website. Poker writers like the ability to remain diverse but it pays to have a niche.
For example, there are several writers on Elance.com who write web content for gaming websites but still pick up a couple of writing gigs offline in magazines and for newspaper articles. Respectively, several notorious authors and professional poker players write primarily as book authors and authorities on their game but occasionally they will snatch a writing column for an online poker website.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking the gigs you have online will allow the offline writing jobs to fall in your lap. You have to keep your options open. You will need to apply for most of the work you get, even after you become well-known within the industry. However, if you’re good, you’ll very seldom face competition for the writing jobs you want.
When you become established in your niche, clients, editors and colleagues will willingly generate referrals for you. In fact, if you are well-informed and can stand out as a leading authority on poker, you can create your own jobs if jobs don’t randomly come your way. You’ll be able to query an editor with ideas and convince the editor to publish your articles. You may be able to query a book publisher with a manuscript idea and have it accepted for publication.
In addition, the offline writing jobs on assignment are often lucrative. Most of the writing jobs on assignment will allow you to live like a high roller, or at the very least, a low roller with some great perks. Poker writers normally stay where the action takes place, which is commonly in a casino. If you’re covering a World Poker Tour event, you’ll likely stay in upgraded casino accommodations; after all, the casino knows you are writing on the event and they’ll likely want you to plug their plush rooms and their many amenities.
On assignment writing jobs will enable you to eat in marvelous dining restaurants, stay among the upper echelon of poker players in suites or upgraded rooms and enjoy hosted parties among poker players. Writing on assignment as a poker writer enables writers to stay in some of the most elegant resorts in the world while enjoying the lifestyle of the pampered poker player. And trust it when you see it in magazines and hear about it online, these professional players are pampered.
Before you obtain your first job assignment as a poker writer, you need to learn all you can about poker. Read everything there is to read. Listen to everything and anything you can on the subject. Flip on the TV set and watch some live game coverage and learn the terminology. Poker tournaments and poker coverage are constantly on TV, especially in the evenings and on weekends.
PERKS OF A FREELANCE POKER WRITER
Poker writers who travel to some of the casino destinations hosting world events such as the WSOP (http://www.worldseriesofpoker.com) or the WPT (World Poker Tour — http://www.worldpokertour.com ) find they can enjoy a lifestyle many freelance writers dream about. Not every freelance writer can endure the schedule of these writers. However, if you are a writer who can face the unpredictable scheduling of events in the World Series of Poker, have a great personality and excellent people skills, then your chances to live a jet-set lifestyle in the world of poker is better than what many writers might think.
Life is better as a poker writer than it is in most areas of writing. You will be rubbing shoulders with people in Sin City and many other casino destinations where money is no object. Remember, money is no object to a great number of poker players. Stakes are always high. With that in mind, remember who you are and where you are. Remember to capture the story, and not the party.
You will get a free ride pass as a poker writer if you can achieve a name for yourself in the poker world. You will have the things only high rollers can get just because the right people want YOU to remember their name. Naturally, this will only happen after you become recognized as a poker authority. If you strive to achieve it, you will know what the inside of the suites at the MGM and Paris Las Vegas look like because you’ll be staying in them. You won’t walk or hail a cab in Vegas. You’ll be riding in a limo, free of charge. Best of all, when you are on a job, you will drink and eat what you want and never see a bill. Welcome to success. Revel in it and know you’ve worked hard for it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Konradt has been a professional freelance writer for more than a decade. He is the author of the book, "Freelance Poker Writing: How to Make Money Writing for the Gaming Industry," available at http://www.freelancepokerwriting.com/