THE COLOR UP: Digital Killed the Magazine Star

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Joe Stapleton isn’t quite wholeheartedly supportive of BLUFF going all digital. (Neil Stoddart photo)

You’re not reading this in a magazine you picked up off of a newsstand. You didn’t pick it up in your local card room. You didn’t pick it up off the floor of a bathroom because you ate way too much cheese yesterday and you’re willing to read anything..That’s because it’s digital. Do you know what “digital” means? “Digital,” comes from an ancient Greek root word that means, “this had better be the future, because if not, we are all f*cked.” It’s worked out so far for clocks and thermometers, but now it’s time to see how it fares with magazines. Much like my romantic life, BLUFF has gone 100% digital.

For the first time in its very short lifespan, Stapes Colors Up the News will never be printed on paper. Well, that’s not exactly true. Some of you may accidentally print this while clumsily trying to close a window of pornography, or possibly while attempting to make copies of a Groupon for Bikram Yoga sessions we both know you’re never going to use, and my Mom will probably print this and put it in my scrapbook right next to my first pair of shoes and my foreskin. Barring those two options, this information will only ever exist in cyberspace. THE FUTURE IS NOW.

Right now, you’re very likely reading this on your phone. You remember your phone right? Of course you do. The real question would be if you remember anything that is not your phone. I don’t. My phone owns my life. I actually plan my day around places where I might be able to charge my phone. I sometimes simply won’t go out if I know my phone’s going to die, and nothing turns a relaxed walk home into a full on terror-sprint like the phrase “Battery Life 10%.” And I’m not even one of these “hip,” “cool,” “kids,” with their “Tamagotchis,” and their “Compuserve accounts.” It makes sense to release your content in a medium where the most people are going to see it, but it does make me sad that I can no longer “coincidentally” walk a date past a newsstand and “casually” point out the fact that I, “write the back page of that magazine over there.”

Now I write for a digital outlet – which is only slightly more impressive than having a customized outgoing voicemail message.

I’m not going to lie. It feels like a step backwards. In 2010, I was offered the chance to quit podcasting for television, and I was also given the opportunity to have the back page of poker’s fourth or fifth most popular magazine (BLUFF). In 2015. the magazine no longer physically exists and I’m doing another podcast* because we’re making fewer TV shows. The audience is moving away from magazines and televisions and we are desperately trying to chase them.

We’re moving away from pre-produced television and toward more live streaming, and, as of right now, I am only one of three people in the poker world who hasn’t yet done or considered doing a Twitch stream. Okay. That’s a lie. Of course I considered it, but honestly, I’m having flashbacks to the day I finally saved up enough money to buy NBA Jam. When I excitedly rushed into school to tell everyone, and finally talk big head mode, and say, “he’s heating up,” I was met with the response of, “We play Mortal Kombat 2 now.” I’m always the guy who shows up just as the party’s ending. Not this time. I’ll catch the next one.

If I can be honest, I joke and I resist because find the whole thing to be terrifying. I liked things the way they were before. I don’t like it here. I think it sucks. I want to go back to the 90’s. I’m forced to ask myself if the resistance to change is because the new thing really does suck, or if I’m just a scared old man seeing a VCR for the first time. “Back in my day, if you missed a show, you missed it! Why would you ever want to watch something again? Seems like a waste of time.”

The good news is that I’m going with it. I have to. I don’t get a say. But the really good news is that I’ve been asked to come along, and I feel pretty lucky for that. Currently, BLUFF is the number one poker magazine in the business, and I’m psyched to still be a part of that. There’s also good news for you, the readers! There are some benefits to this column being “digital,” in that it doesn’t have traditional deadlines or go-to-print dates, so I can actually write about “the news” just as it’s happening, so, expect more of that. Some of it might even be poker-related eventually. In closing, there really is no reason to put these words on paper anymore. Let’s face it, we need those trees to make more Starbucks cups. The only paper we REALLY need anymore is toilet paper. And I heard that’s going digital by 2017.

*EPT “Not” Live (podcast) now available. New episodes released weekly on iTunes.

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Joe Stapleton

Joe Stapleton a.k.a “Stapes” was first introduced to poker fans on PokerRoad Radio as one half of the “Two Jacks in the Hole” show. Now players know him from his TV hosting gig at PokerStars live events and his famous challenges.
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