Thank you, poker!

An open letter to poker and everyone in the industry —

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Thank you.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the game of poker. Poker, a game of skill, cards, money, and people, has a mysterious component of luck, glamour, and danger that makes it so special. I have gained so much from the game, I felt compelled to put it in ink.

Thank you for introducing me to my husband. When I was 19, I had become so infatuated with the game that I was looking for anywhere to play. At the sports bar where I worked, I heard him and his friends talking about poker. His friend informed me that he was "the guy" in poker around town and that he'd just won a big tournament. The next day we met to go play poker, and the rest is history.

Thank you for paying my college debts. When I wasn’t playing soccer or “attending class” (I usually had poker articles stuck in between pages of my textbooks so I could read them during lectures), I was dealing/playing in underground cash games. It certainly wasn't the safest or most innocent place for a teenager, but it paid the bills (and drinks... I partied a lot in college). 

Thank you for Vegas. Just after turning 21, I moved from Fort Wayne, IN to Las Vegas in hopes of finding a journalism career in poker. I started as an intern at Card Player, then moved to PokerNews. I’ve gotten to interview poker's top players and travel the world. I’ve seen places I’d never imagined I’d be able to go to. I’ve jump-pic’d, partied, and shot videos in at least 15 countries (ok I partied a lot in my early twenties too).

Thank you to all the players I’ve interviewed. Players have been silly with me, vulnerable, informative, and so cooperative. I’ve even pranked a few of them before and they were totally cool with it. :) I’ve become a better person and player because of all the interviews I’ve gotten to do.

Thank you to all consummate pros who show us all that poker is skill and that people can have well-balanced, family oriented lives. [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix=""]Thank you to the degens who remind us that we can’t always avoid high variance, and that there is also a dark side to anything in life without balance.[/inlinetweet] Thank you to the ambassadors of the game who promote it relentlessly and lead by example. Thank you to the recreational players who show us that poker is a game and should be fun!

Thank you to the trailblazers who came before us. To those who played through a time when it was illegal and socially unacceptable, thank you for facing the adversity. The game survived and thrived because of your love for the game. And to the women who refused to let it be a boys club, even in times they felt unwelcome, thank you.

Thank you to poker media. As I step back from that role, I see even more clearly how integral that role is to the success of the game and its players. Think about it- poker media outlets tell us where/when the tournaments are, where to stay, how to play, how to improve, where the resources are, how the players are doing, updates on events, news about legislation, and so much more. It also gives us legitimacy.  And knowing how grueling and thankless it can be at times, I thank you so much. 

Thank you to poker fans. It's impossible to express how good it feels to know that there are people out there who love what we do. Whether it's a podcast they liked, an interview, or even just a social media post they appreciate, it's often feedback that keeps me going. Fans take the time out to express their love, appreciation, and excitement, and should always be treated with kindness. (Before I got my internship, I sent messages of admiration to many of my idols including Evelyn Ng and Daniel Negreanu. Both of them gave me a thoughtful, sweet response. It meant more then they'll ever know at the time.) I have been and continue to be a fan.

Thank you to poker staff everywhere. The tournament directors, dealers, floor, all of you. You should always be treated with respect, and when you aren’t treated that way, know that it’s us, not you. If a poker player is ungrateful, demanding or stinky, that’s their problem, not yours.

Thank you to poker for teaching me that money is a tool and that it does not automatically mean success or failure. An abundance of it or lack of it should never change the way we feel about ourselves or the way we treat others. It comes and goes so quickly, so we cannot rely on it for our self worth.

Thank you to the game of poker for being a mirror for my life. Whatever I come across that holds me back in poker, holds me back in life as well. Addressing those issues to become better at poker has greatly improved my character.

Thank you to my poker mentors— with your support, I am now skilled enough to play a game I love for a living. I have the freedom to manage my own time which allows me to cultivate my passions in life.

As I end this, I know that there must be so many things I’m forgetting. So, I’ll go with one giant, sweeping, bear-hugged, last word to all over poker — THANK YOU.