Why I cut my 2014 WSOP trip short

NOTE: I wrote the first draft of this on Sunday morning, July 6.

I’m in Atlanta, waiting on my 8:00 AM connecting flight back to Gainesville. It’s been a while since I took a redeye, but this is the real deal. I took this flight because I didn’t have many other options when I decided to cut my annual WSOP trip to Vegas short.

Why did I do that? To be honest, I’m really not sure, and I’m processing that question as I write this. I was really excited to head out this year, and I’d been looking forward to it since I returned from last summer’s trip. So I packed my bags, flew to Vegas, and immediately just felt… off. Instead of looking forward to playing tournaments, I sort of dreaded it. I was there for three days before I played my first tournament (the $1,500 Monster Stack, where I hung out for 10 hours and busted at the end of Day 1). It was another four days before I played my second tournament (a $300 tourney at the Wynn, where I busted on a bad beat after about four hours).

After playing only two tournaments in a week, I thought the remaining 11 days of my vacation could be better spent than puttering around Vegas, playing a tournament every few days. I decided I would rather spend my final week off in Gainesville, where I can relax and work on TaskBook. So here I am.

But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a little more to it. I’ve been playing poker for 11 years, and I was really, really fascinated by it when I began playing in little home games in college. I was the guy who went out and bought books and started reading poker forums to get better in my five-dollar home game. When I graduated from college, moved to Dallas, and started working full-time, I also started playing a lot of poker online at night after work.

I played a lot and read a lot, but I never went all-in the way some online pros and grinders did. I just didn’t have the will or desire to grind eight to 10 hours a day online. That didn’t sound fun to me.

I continued playing a lot of poker online for the next several years, and started visiting Vegas for the WSOP beginning in 2009. A couple months after my WSOP trip in 2009, I was let go from my job and started playing a lot more online poker. I still enjoyed playing, but not nearly as much as I had when I began, and playing online started feeling like more and more of a grind. I think that’s when I began to burn out.

My poker reserves began running low late in 2009, then my online time tapered a bit through 2010 and had all but disappeared by the time Black Friday hit online poker in April of 2011. From then on, I would play the occasional cash game in Florida, but mostly just played during the summers in Vegas.

Late in 2011, I began writing Heads-Up Tournament Poker and building my first web application (ShareAppeal). Pretty much all of my poker energy went into the book, and the remainder of my creative and intellectual energy went into learning Ruby on Rails. I never really saw poker as a way to create a dependable income, but I felt differently about web applications – I felt there could really be something there for meaningful future income. I began shifting my energy and interest from poker to app development and stopped playing poker entirely except during the summers in Vegas.

My 2012 trip was a month long, but I was working full time for the entire month, so I didn’t play much poker. I almost didn’t make the trip in 2013, but was persuaded by a friend to make the trip (and I’m glad I did – that was a fun two weeks). I think my 2013 trip emptied the tank, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t play a single hand of poker between the WSOP 2013 and my trip this summer, or maybe I would’ve realized sooner that I had used up most of my interest in poker for now.

I’m not saying I’ve quit poker, or that I’m over it. I just wasn’t feeling it this summer. I’ve been working hard on TaskBook, and that takes a lot of energy and can be sort of distracting when playing poker. I see TaskBook in particular, and app development in general, as a way to generate real income on the side, and it’s still very interesting to me. Unfortunately for poker, app development uses a lot of the same creative energy as poker does, so there’s just not enough room for a deep interest in both.

I hope that I can replenish my poker-energy reserves over time. I may play some cash games around town, or jump into some Florida tournament series this fall, or I may not. But for now, I’m just not as interested in poker as I used to be, and I’m more and more interested in app development. So my guess is my energy will be focused there for a while, and poker could be on the back burner indefinitely.

My weird battlemodo with Gizmodo about sharing ShareAppeal

Gizmodo does a feature called “Chatroom” where they post a question and ask readers to weigh in with their opinions, insight or whatever. I was recently browsing Gizmodo when I saw a Chatroom feature entitled: “How Do You Share Links Between Devices?

It turns out I spent about a year building a thing called ShareAppeal, which can be described as “a way to share links between devices”. I thought, “Hey! What are the odds that Gizmodo would ask a question, and my answer would be, ‘I actually built a web app specifically to do that thing!’?” Not only that, but it was a Chatroom, so the whole idea was to get people to chime in and tell other readers (and Gizmodo) their solutions to this problem. Serendipity: I had a great answer to Gizmodo’s question and I could tell people about ShareAppeal, and the people I would be telling have to be interested in what ShareAppeal does because they’re reading comments on a post about what ShareAppeal does. Everybody wins!

Not so fast! I hadn’t registered for Gizmodo because I basically don’t comment on posts on any site. I’m more of a grazer and not one to dig in and leave comments. I occasionally comment on something, but it’s really, really rare. So I registered for an account, linked it to my Twitter account, and viola!, I could leave a comment:

I actually created a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to facilitate link sharing. Each user has a reading list. Mutual followers can share links directly to each others’ reading lists, comment on links, save others’ links to their own reading list. It also integrates with Twitter to pull in links from my feed, so they’re easier to find and save for later.

It’s come in handy for me and my friends.

I tried to give a summary of what it does without being too spammy, and avoided any kind of “call to action”. I hit “reply” and let it fly.

Then I waited a while. Since I had just registered for a new account, I figured maybe it took time for the account to get verified or something. After some hours, it still wasn’t showing up as a comment on the Chatroom, so I reached out to Gawker Media Support 1:

I added a comment to this post several hours ago, and it’s not showing up. I can see it when I’m signed in, but not when I’m signed out. Did I do something wrong? Thanks! Joshhttp://gizmodo.com/5961477/how-do-you-share-links-between-devices

My username (Gizmodo) is JoshuaDoody, and I’m authenticated via Twitter.

To be honest, I didn’t really expect much to come of this email. It was a Sunday afternoon and I didn’t know if this was even the type of question that Gawker would answer.

But, I did get an answer, and it was a pretty good one 2:


It looks like your comment was probably marked as spam, due to its self-promoting nature (unfortunately, we only allow self-promotion in a limited capacity) Try re-wording your comment ( make it more casual) and try reposting. Let me know if anything else comes up!

–[Support Guy]

Gawker Media Help Desk

I wanted a little more clarification since I wasn’t exactly sure how to address the “self-promoting nature” of my comment since I would have to self-promote to some extent if my reply were to have any substance. I figured I’d try replying to the email to see if I would get another response:

Hi [Support Guy]

I’ll try rewording, but it would help to know if there is something specific I could do to avoid being spam-flagged in the future. Is it ok to have the URL for my web app in my comment? Do I need to reduce the description? It would also be great if there were something to tell me “your comment got canned as spam – try again”. As far as I can tell, I have no way of knowing what happened to my comment after I posted it.

Also, it seems like it might help to have smarter spam filters. Technically, my post is self-promoting, but I’m directly answering the question “How do you do this?” with “I created a web app specifically to do this.” It’s not like I’m spam-bombing random threads with random links.

Anyway, thanks for the reply. I’ll try a more generic comment. It would be really helpful to know if I can include a link to my app, though.


I wasn’t sure if there was an automated spam filter or if a person was reading and moderating comments. I figured maybe the link to ShareAppeal was being auto-flagged as spam or something.

Support Guy replied as I was writing my new comment:


Including the link shouldn’t be a problem, again, just reword it so that it sounds more like a recommendation than self-promoting – regardless, let me know if anything else comes up.

–[Support Guy]

Gawker Media Help Desk

And I went ahead and replied a few minutes later:

[Support Guy]

This is really helpful – thanks for taking the time to respond to me and point me in the right direction.

I’m writing another comment now – hopefully this one gets through.



PS I’m sensitive to how hard it is to police spam and self-promotion. I just thought it was strange that the point of this particular chatroom was, “How do you do this?” and it seemed like the only acceptable responses were things people already knew about (Evernote, Chrome extensions, iMessage, email, etc.). Seemed to defeat the purpose of the post (finding ways others hadn’t thought of). BUT, I get it now, and I’ll give it another shot. Cheers!

And I posted my revised comment to the Chatroom:

I used to either email links or send them on Facebook or Twitter, but it was tough to keep track of stuff scattered all over the place, and the links themselves would get buried under other stuff or just lost. So I just ended up creating a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to help me save links and share them with my friends.

And I sent off another email to let Support guy know that I’d tried again, hoping maybe he could help shepherd my new comment through the moderation/approval process:

[Support Guy]

I created a new comment, but can’t find a way to do anything with the old one (delete it). Two questions:

1. Is there some way to delete the old one (if it even matters).
2. Here’s my comment – if there’s anything you can do to help it through the spam filters, that would be great: “I used to either email links or send them on Facebook or Twitter, but it was tough to keep track of stuff scattered all over the place, and the links themselves would get buried under other stuff or just lost. So I just ended up creating a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to help me save links and share them with my friends.

Thanks again for your time and help


This is where things start to get a little weird, and I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to post any meaningful comment to the Chatroom. Support Guy replied and even suggested a rewording of my comment:


Unfortunately, due to our terms and conditions, we are not allowed to delete any comments ourselves, however, it shouldn’t matter anyway.

As for the comment: Again, it sounds a bit too ad-like (keep this in mind: not only do you have to go through the spam-filter, but you also have to go through the mods who read this stuff- if it sounds too much like an ad/too much like self promotion, they’ll dismiss it too)

Try something like this: “I hated the fact that there wasn’t a way to keep track of all the links I wanted to share/send. so I said, screw it, I’ll build my own app. So far, it seems to be doing the trick (try it here: <link> ) – let me know what you guys think!” [Emphasis mine]

Keep it casual (again, don’t make it sound like an ad /too much like self promotion) and keep it to the one comment (if you continue to promote in general, the system will probably mark you as a spam account). [Emphasis mine] Again, we don’t allow too much self promotion, but if you’re proud of your app, then make it more about you than the app itself. (tell us what led you to make this app in the first place, rather than why people should use it- see the difference?)

Any who, let me know if anything else comes up!

–[Support Guy]


Gawker Media Help Desk

Well, that’s a little odd. The content of his suggested comment is more or less the same as mine, except he’s using exclamation points and actually asks people to visit the site. He also switches to a sort of college student dialect. He recommends keeping the link, though.

The stakes have also been raised: I’ve now submitted two comments that are apparently being flagged as spam, and there’s a risk I could get marked “as a spam account” if I keep trying and failing. So this is a nice little Catch-22: I can water down my reply so it’s non-specific or mentions other services that people already know about, and that’ll probably get posted; or I can try to answer the question specifically (which seems to be the purpose of the entire Chatroom) and risk getting marked as a spam account. What to do? I decided to just hope my latest comment made it through the filters, but not to try posting again lest I be banned.

I also found this a little confusing since it really wasn’t any different than mine except it seemed to have been run through a “regular guy-to-college guy” translator or something. I sent off one last email to Support Guy (never got a response on this one):

[Support Guy]

Thanks again for your input. Honestly, I think my second comment is much less self-promoting than your example. For instance, I don’t ask anyone to give me feedback (that seems spammy to me).

Is there any way a mod could see my post and manually evaluate it? Or maybe the author of the post/chat room on Gizmodo (Eric Limer) could see it and approve it?

It seems like the system is sort of breaking down here. I think my answer to the chat room’s question is about as direct AND unique as possible. I’m not asking for clicks, spamming, etc. your example and mine are only  SLIGHTLY different and almost all the difference is in style, not content. The main difference is you ask for feedback and I don’t.

(I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I’m genuinely unsure how I could contribute to that thread and answer the author’s question any better or more directly.)Thanks again for the dialogue – I hope you’re having a good weekend!


And so, neither of my comments was ever posted to the Chatroom. I didn’t try again because I was concerned about being flagged as a spam account. But what’s crazy is mine might have been the most unique possible answer to the Chatroom. The whole reason this particular Chatroom was useful is that the ways people already share links are pretty hacky: Open a new tab in Chrome so it syncs through the cloud – that works for one person, but what about sharing with someone else? Evernote – same thing. I actually had a unique take on the question, but I wasn’t allowed to post because I was sharing info on a tool that wasn’t already mainstream. Round and round we go.

It would’ve been great to share ShareAppeal with people who could really use it, not only because I think it’s a great little app, but because they may have given me new feedback that I haven’t gotten from the current beta testers. That seems like a win-win to me. But my comment was no match for Gawker’s convoluted comment approval system. C’iest la vie.

ShareAppeal has a new blog!

ShareAppeal Blog

ShareAppeal Blog
I’ve been working on ShareAppeal for almost a year now, and I’ve had a tough time using this blog for several different things. But this is ultimately my personal blog, and using it for ShareAppeal announcements never felt quite right. I decided it’s time it has its own product blog. So here it is, the new ShareAppeal blog on Tumblr!

The ShareAppeal Blog

I’ve already copied the old ShareAppeal posts from this blog to that one, and I just posted a nice write-up on the new Twitter Integration feature.

Off to Vegas for the 2012 WSOP and lots of work

I’m writing this post from a plane somewhere over New Mexico, and I’m on my iPad, so this may not be the best-written or -formatted post I’ve ever written.

Anyway, I’m heading to Vegas for my annual trip to the World Series of Poker. This is the first year I’m staying in a condo instead of hotel hopping like I usually do. My typical routine is to hop back and forth from the luxurious Gold Coast to the Rio (where the WSOP happens) since they’re right across the street from each other. I will usually stay at the GC on the weekends (when it’s significantly cheaper than the Rio), and at the Rio during the week.

This year, I have a job, so I need a place where I can work without the sounds of slot machines and depression in the background, so I decided to rent a condo. I managed to talk Luckbox Larry into splitting it with me, so I’ll even have a roommate. The bottom line is we’ll probably both feel like we’re living in the lap of luxury since we’ll have our own rooms and, you know, the creature comforts like a fridge and oven. My guess is it’ll cost 30-50% more at the condo than it usually does I’m the hotels. But it’s hard to compare because we’ll have much better accommodations, WiFi, laundry, a gym and that sort of thing. All in all, I think it’s a good value.

Originally, I booked this trip so I could be here to promote the heads-up book, which we were trying to release before the WSOP Main Event, but that ain’t happening so I’m just here to work and pay poker this summer. When I say “work”, I really mean several things: my “day job”, of course; ShareAppeal, which is really getting rolling; writing a new book about my career so far (I’ve already written about 2,000 words since we took off); and editing the heads-up book so it’s ready to release later this year. I’m keeping pretty busy, as always.

But of course there’s poker too, right? I hope so. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to play with all the other stuff I have going on, but I’m going to at least try to play a few WSOP events and some side tournaments. I would like to play the Main Event again, but I have no idea if that’ll actually happen. Last year, I didn’t decide to play until about three hours before the beginning of Day 1 D (scroll down to Day 18), some still have about three weeks to figure out a way to play again this year.

We’re starting our descent, so I’m going to sign off. I don’t know if I’ll do a daily diary this year, but I’ll be sure to keep everyone up to date one what’s going on.

Oh! But I would like to give people a better sense of what the WSOP is like, and what it’s like for me every summer I Vegas. So, if you want to know more about that sort of thing, leave some comments with suggestions on what you want to know or see. I’ll do my best to create some content to give a sense of what it’s like out here at the WSOP.

ShareAppeal update: lots of new features!

A little while back, I announced the ShareAppeal beta. Since then, I’ve been hard at work on ShareAppeal, and I’m happy to announce several new features. You can find out a lot more on the ShareAppeal About page, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • Detailed user profiles now include a bio, website and location
  • Find other ShareAppeal users by searching for their name or scanning the Users Index
  • Follow other ShareAppeal users
  • Post links on your feed so your followers can see what you’re reading
  • Save links directly to your Reading List from your feed or by sharing with yourself–an easy way to save something for later if you don’t have time for it now
  • Comment on Posts and Shares within your network of followers
  • Invite friends to ShareAppeal and get an optional email when they sign up

I’m also working on several other features that I think will be really cool. For example, I’m working to integrate ShareAppeal with other social sites so that our friends on other sites can see what we’re sharing and talking about on ShareAppeal.

ShareAppeal has been a fun adventure so far, and I’m excited to give others the opportunity to come along for the ride. If you would like to participate in the beta, just click the link to get started. If you have any questions or want to know more, just leave a comment below. You can also Follow ShareAppeal on Twitter or like the ShareAppeal Facebook page for updates and new feature announcements.

If you would like to give ShareAppeal a try, just click here.

Announcing the ShareAppeal beta!



If you would like to give ShareAppeal a try, just click here.

I’m excited to announce the beta launch of ShareAppeal, a new social app that enables us to build reading lists for our friends and help others discover new content online.

What’s it do?

Our friends know us better than anyone, and are best equipped to help us find interesting new things. ShareAppeal helps us build reading lists for each other, and save links for ourselves so we can read them when we have time. On ShareAppeal, you have your own reading list, populated with links from friends, and you have a list of links that you’ve saved for yourself.

All you need to use ShareAppeal are a web browser and an internet connection. (I typically use it on my iPhone and my iPad.)

What will it do?

ShareAppeal will enable us to share things with each other and keep track of what we’ve shared and received. Sharing should be easy, and so should keeping track of what’s been shared with us. ShareAppeal will help us share all kinds of things with each other online (we’re starting with links, but hope to share much more). We also plan to integrate with other social networks to offer a more integrated online experience.

Why did I create ShareAppeal?

I really created it for myself. One of my favorite things about how connected we are is that I constantly find new stuff through my social graph. Friends share links on Facebook, Twitter or even through email, so I have plenty of interesting stuff to read or watch online at any given time. I noticed that I would often forget where I saw something, or that I would forget to follow up after I initially saw something interesting. I have conversations like these with myself pretty often:

What was that funny video my friend linked to? Was it on Facebook or Twitter? Shoot! It looked really hilarious, but now I can’t find it!”

I wonder if my friend ever got around to reading that Atlantic article I emailed him about. Should I email him again? I think he’d really like it, but I don’t want to bug him if he’s busy.”

While I get a lot of good material from my friends online, I miss a lot of good material because I don’t happen to be on Twitter at the right time, or because I get bombarded with email one day and forget to flag a good one for follow-up. The result is that I’m missing out on a lot of good stuff that my friends have recommended for me. That’s frustrating because my friends take the time to discover and share cool stuff with me, and I know it’s stuff that I’ll like because they know me so well.

ShareAppeal has helped me solve this problem: When my friends share things with me on ShareAppeal, I never lose the link or forget to check it out because it’s always there, waiting for me on my reading list. If they share it on Twitter and I want to make sure I don’t miss it, I just copy/paste the link into ShareAppeal to save for later.

Why beta?

I know that I get a lot of use out of ShareAppeal, and several of my friends have enjoyed it as well. Now I need to grow the user base so I can see how others use it. That’s why I’m announcing ShareAppeal on my blog, Facebook and Twitter: I want to have more people participate.

ShareAppeal has been a fun adventure so far, and I’m excited to give others the opportunity to come along for the ride. If you would like to participate in the beta, just click the link to get started. If you have any questions or want to know more, just leave a comment below. You can also Follow ShareAppeal on Twitter.

If you would like to give ShareAppeal a try, just click here.