I was never destined to be a writer. Instead, I was introduced to gambling at a young age (even before I was 18). I was never an academic, but I had gotten myself into a decent enough college. One thing that I was for sure was a gambler: a poker player and a sports bettor.
The Poker Boom
I graduated high school in 2004. At that time, online poker and poker, in general, was exploding. The World Series of Poker was the hottest thing on TV. The number of people playing online poker doubled every year from 2003 to 2006 in what was known as the “Poker Boom.”
I was a student, but I didn’t have much ambition for my classes. Instead, I was playing poker — lots of it. I made so much money that by the time I was 19 years old – I didn’t care much for school anymore. I decided to drop out of school to play online poker.
Let me tell you, my parents were thrilled! (Not.)
In the poker world, ‘Black Friday,’ has a different meaning than the shopping extravaganza that comes the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, it refers to United States v. Scheinberg, a court case that took down the biggest players in online poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.
Poker was already getting harder to profit from, as the games were getting tougher because the players were improving. I was still making a decent living, but the profits from the Poker Boom years were a distant memory.
Now, the U.S. Department of Justice just busted the two most significant online poker sites for offering their services to American citizens from foreign servers. Worst of all, one of the sites, Full Tilt, didn’t have the money to pay their customers.
Online poker would never be the same again. The game is still available to play online today and legal from a player perspective. However, the dark cloud over the industry never went away. The games were full of “grinders,” meaning, professional level players (or close) and few new amateur players were signing up and depositing.
Transitioning to Writing
The online poker market that was already drying up got worse. The stress of playing poker got to me. I was still making a decent side income from betting sports and was quite knowledgeable on both subjects. That pretty much went for all things gambling.
I had a friend that had been writing gambling content for several years. He was successful and did well. He wouldn’t offer me an endorsement to his clients, but he did point me to several forums to advertise my writing abilities.
Quickly, I got a few takers. I wrote for a much lesser rate than I wanted in the long run for my first few articles, but this quickly changed after I got several takers for more work. Soon, I had an extensive list of clients and a nearly endless flow of incoming work.
I only needed to make a single post on the forum offering my services. After that, I was booked for good. I did not need to advertise any further. The thread got me some of the bigger fish in the industry at the time. Then word of mouth spread that my work was above-average.
Strong writers are hard to find. The best ones are knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects they’re writing. Ultimately, passion leads you to crave knowledge on topic or interest, and that leads to better writing. My advice to freelancers is that if they don’t like or even hate the subjects they’re writing about is to find some topics that they’re excited to write about each day. It will improve your mood and content quality immensely.
Freelance Gambling Writing
Writing gambling content is an exciting profession. I had many clients who would pay up front to secure my services, but most of them paid after I invoiced them. A few took their time paying and even fewer didn’t end up paying me for my work for weeks or even months later. But those were few and far between.
As I became more popular and known for quality content – I was able to raise my prices. I ended up working for just about everyone in the industry. At a certain point, I was booked year round and had to refuse new clients. Eventually, I received an offer for a salaried position from one of my clients. He was easily the nicest guy I worked for over the years and the most generous. He even gave me a Christmas bonus as a freelance writer!
Anyway, I don’t regret taking the position. I was one of the first three people hired, and the company has grown a lot since then. The job offers flexible hours and has an excellent company culture. I much prefer it to freelance writing.
Joseph Falchetti is the author of the blog, most picks, and the majority of content on Safest Betting Sites. Joe has an extensive background as a writer and gambler of all types. He was a professional poker player and sports bettor for eight years until he decided to make the switch to writing sports gambling content, especially about American football betting, after the Black Friday seizures against PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in April 2011. He has been mentioned in Forbes as a betting analyst and his articles have been linked by several top publications such as the New York Times.
∗ This is the first in a new series, How I Became a Writer. Find out how you can participate here.