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The market for quality writers of poker has increased tenfold after it was revealed that Churchill Downs Inc. plans to close Bluff Media thus spitting the entire workforce into the air like smoke out of a chimney stack.

Ironically it was Bluff Media co-founder Eric Morris who broke the news on Twitter when he said: “It looks like operations will cease as of August 15th. Sad day for company I founded in 2004.”

I never personally worked for Bluff Media, but I did get one of my first paid poker gigs from a licensee of the Bluff brand known as Bluff Europe. It wasn’t until very recently that I was even made aware that the two companies weren’t the same. Up until that moment I was also proud to work for the company I never worked for.

When I first learned about this candy cane of a game there were a few solid rules: Phil Ivey was to be forever known as the greatest player in the world, the World Poker Tour (WPT) was the best goddam poker show on TV, a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet was like toilet wipes on a desert island, and Bluff magazine was the Daddy.

Morris and Eddy Kleid launched Bluff in October 2004. Poker had emerged from its cocoon; flapping its wings like the beautiful beast it was always meant to be. It was on fire, but all sparks burn out in the end.

Churchill Downs Inc. paid an undisclosed fee for the company in 2012. Employees were uprooted and forced to move home, a point that Bluff writer Steve Schult made on his Twitter account stating: “I’m also mad because some of those same people were uprooted from their respective situations and forced to move to a new city in order to continue their career with the same company and then just a few years later it’s all gone.”

Lance Bradley, Vice President and Content & Editor in Chief at Bluff, tweeted that he was ‘very proud’ of the product that they had produced, and that ‘more than anything’ he was proud of the people he had the privilege to work with. Bradley then went on to mention the likes of Tim Fiorvanti, Kevin Mathers, Paul Oresteen, Jessica Wellman, David Ferrara, Diana Cox, and Steve Schult in his praise. Cox wrote that she was in tears when she heard the news, Schult called Bradley the best boss he had ever worked with, and Oresteen said that he believed the decision had come off the back of the best WSOP that the company had ever experienced.

The ending of such an iconic part of our establishment once again goes to show how fragile the thread is that hinges us to our provider. I always remember thinking I was invincible after 20-years on the rail roads and then one day they brought in a new gaffer whose olfactory system stuffed up when I walked past him…and just like that…poof…I was a number.

What happens next is a mystery to everyone except the decision makers in Churchill Downs Inc. and a few people within the crumbling walls that were once Bluff Towers.

But I do know this.

I am new to this industry. I don’t feel like I belong. Yet I pay particular attention to those that do. Those people that I have mentioned in this article, and those few that I have not, whose lives will now feel as brittle as Mr. Glass’s bones, will now go into their cocoon, and when they emerge, like poker did in 2003, they will be an entirely different entity. One very much ready to take on a totally different world, or re-assert themselves in their rightful place inside the one that exists.

They all feel like colleagues. Even if I don’t know them. I wish them all the best, and will do what I can to help find them work if they choose to remain in this industry. In the meantime I offer this quote from Henry Ford. It helped me when I was at a similar time in my life in the not too distant past.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

RIP Bluff Media.

Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.

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