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Poker blog engines

4.333335
Average: 4.3 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

 If you are a poker player and would like to start your own blog to share your experience and views about the poker world, you'll have to decide on the essential issue – whether to use a general blogging platform such as Wordpress, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, or a poker community blogging engine. Those who have decided to go with Wordpress or Blogger, please read this article just to make sure you know what you're missing and is it worth it. 

If you have decided to use a Poker blog platform, you should understand that you'll have to sacrifice some of the features for the sake of the others.
 
Let’s see what are the Pros and Cons of using one or another type of blogging platform.
 
 
Pros
Cons
General platforms (Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr)
  • Lots of additional internal and external widgets to add
  • Lots of SEO features
  • More design templates to choose from
  • Possibility to redirect the blog to your own domain
  • Tools to change the blog platform provider
  • Needs a huge investment to become popular
  • Separated from other poker content features
 
 
Platforms targeted for Poker players
  • Widgets are targeted to suite the poker player's needs
  • Poker player community guarantees traffic
  • Functionality is quite limited
  • Little design customization options
  • Little SEO features
  • Difficult or impossible to add external widgets
  • No possibility to edit your domain name
  • No possibility to change your blog provider
 
 
Please consider what you really want and what you CAN do with your blog. Let's say you have decided to use a Poker blog platform. Good choice! Now the main question is what Poker blog platform to choose. There are some blogging engines in the market worth attention. Let’s do a little evaluation. We will check if a certain blogging platform has the particular features that every blog should have.
 
The features are:
  1. Visibility to the non-members of the blogging platform
  2. The editing of the text + embedding external media (Youtube or any other video, flash replayer etc.) options
  3. Tools to customize the design and the looks of the blog
  4. Possibility to manage the URI (the ending of the link) of a single blog post
  5. Possibility to share it with your friends and various social networks
  6. RSS feature availability
  7. Is the blog SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly?
  8. Is there a statistics engine
  9. Scheduling and privacy options
  10. Tagging and categorizing your blog posts
 
Usually Poker blog platforms are only a part of larger social networks with blogging being only one of the features. Our goal is to look only at the blogging part, so there is no in depth analysis of all the features of the social network. Every feature has been evaluated in the scale from 0 to 5:
 
Absent – 0
Undeveloped – 1
Complicated to use – 2
Substantial – 3
Good – 4
Very nice and useful – 5
 
All points are added and an average mark is made by dividing the total sum from the amount of features, which is 10. In the end I will provide my personal verdict as I have been blogging for 5 years already and I know what is best for the regular blogger. The personal evaluation applies ONLY to the blogging features. It does not mean that the entire social network may be described in the same manner as the blogging platform.
 
Poker Players Social Network – 1.4 average points
 
Poker Players Social Network or PPSN is made using the Ning social media platform, so most of its features are the same as those of the platform. PPSN has collected a lot of top level poker pros, therefore it is one of the most popular poker social networks. Let’s check its blog service.
 
  1. Unfortunately, any blog post you publish is visible only to the registered PPSN members. 0
  2. Text editing features are quite poor – only Bold, Italic, Underline, Link and Picture. If you want to embed a Youtube video, you need to copy-paste the code into the text. 3
  3. You cannot customize your blog's design or the layout. 0.
  4. It is not possible to edit the link of your post as it is generated automatically by using all the title words. 0.
  5. Once the blog post is published you can share it with your friends and various social media. That’s quite strange, as no one can read it without logging in. 4.
  6. No RSS, because the blog is only available for the closed community. 0.
  7. As the blog is closed it is not visible to the search engines. No additional basic SEO features such as Header, H1 tags for the blog name, blogroll etc. 0.
  8. The view statistics are absent here. 0.
  9. You may schedule the time when the blog must be posted. You can also define to whom your posts would be available to read. 4.
  10. Tagging is possible, no categories, however. 3.
The total evaluation is the following 0+3+0+0+4+0+0+0+4+3=14/10=1.4. Personal verdict: blogging is NOT recommended in PPSN. However, there are lots of activities in the forum, groups and other features of this social network.
 
My.PokerNews.com – 3.3 average points
 
My.Pokernews.com is a part of Pokernews – one of the best poker information providers in the market. However, the looks and the features are quite independent from the main site. Only a few editor-choice blog posts get into the pokernews.com home page. It cannot be called a social network as it is missing the main social networking point – friend's status, but it has a very nice blogging service.
 
  1. Posts are absolutely visible and private. 5.
  2. Text editing options are quite average (card icons and smileys are available as well as bullet points and lists). Embedding seems a bit complicated as the HTML code must be added as an internal object (the same with the image) and only then placed in the text. 2.
  3. You can choose from 8 different design templates and make your blog look quite nice. One template has an interactive flash function that allows you to choose your favorite cards. However, there is no possibility to update the layout. 4.
  4. Unfortunately, it is not possible to edit the URI of the blog post as it is generated automatically taking all the title words. If the title is too long, some words are cut out. 0.
  5. Sharing options are available using the “AddThis” button. However, they could be more visible. 4.
  6. Comments and the RSS feed are available. It is also possible to add one’s favorite RSS reader. The feature, again, could be more visible. 4.
  7. The blog is SEO friendly as it has some additional features that can be used for the SEO. You may include the title and the description of the post. The blog also has the Blogroll feature which allows adding up to 10 links to your friends' blogs. Keywords and meta tags, however, cannot be edited. 3.
  8. You may always check the daily statistics selecting the views from the members, friends and the outside visitors. Views by the country are also available to check as well as the general referring sites. All the statistics are 24 hours late. 4.
  9. The scheduling of the blog post is not available. However, you can choose who would be able to read and comment on your blog. 2.
  10. Tags and categories are available. The blog has a tag cloud box as well. 5.

The total evaluation is 5+2+4+0+4+4+3+4+2+5=33/10=3.3. Personal verdict: blogging IS recommended in My.Pokernews.com.

Cardlovers.com – 0.9 average points
 
Cardlovers seems to be quite a new online community with some tools for the poker players. We are interested in only one tool – the blog environment.
 
  1. The blog is visible to the public. 5.
  2. Text formatting and editing features are very complicated as the BBcode is used, with very limited features. For example, you cannot add the link with the keyword. Rich media embedding is also done using the BBcode. That’s just too difficult for the beginning blogger. 2.
  3. No design and layout customization features. 0.
  4. The URI is generated automatically and it ends in digits, so you cannot edit it or create your own. 0.
  5. No blog sharing options. 0.
  6. No RSS features. 0.
  7. As the blog creates the URL using the post's ID number and does not take any words from the title, it cannot be SEO friendly. However, blog posts are indexed and can be found by the search engines. 1
  8. The views of the blog are only visible to the author. 1.
  9. The publishing of the post cannot be set for some other time or date and you cannot determine to whom your blog is shown. There are no privacy options and no scheduling feature. 0.
  10. No tags or categories are possible. 0.

The total evaluation is 5+2+0+0+0+0+1+1+0+0=9/10=0.9. Personal verdict: blogging is NOT recommended in Cardlovers. However, their forum is active and there are some interesting poker tools (coaching, staking etc.) that may attract more attention than writing a blog.

Pokerdiy.com – 2.6 average points
 
Pokerdiy.com is quite an old social network (established in 2005) and its main features are home games and poker leagues. Blogging is a secondary feature; however, we should review it as well.
 
  1. The blogs are visible to the public without logging in.5.
  2. Text formatting is of the first class as WYSWYG editor is one of the most popular open source editors in the World – FCKeditor. 4.
  3. No design or layout customization features. 0.
  4. The URI is generated automatically using the words from the title. However, it also includes some other text, therefore is very long. No option to edit it. 0.
  5. Every blog entry can be easily shared to all the main social media using the “AddThis” button. 5
  6. The RSS can be added to any reader using the “AddThis” button. Some other RSS categories are available as well. 5.
  7. The URL is very long, but the latest posts get some linking from the main page. Deep linking is also possible, therefore search engines are able to read the blog. 3.
  8. Blog views are public as well as the rating of the blog. However, there are no other statistic features. 3.
  9. The publishing of the blog is very complicated. It cannot be rescheduled and you cannot choose who will be able to read it.0.
  10. No tags are possible. Categories cannot be created, but there are enough of pre-set ones. 1.

The total evaluation is 5+4+0+0+5+5+3+3+0+1=26/10=2.6. Personal verdict UPDATED: PokerDIY has removed the blog approval, therefore blogs can be published easily. PokerDIY is RECOMMENDED for bloging, however their main features are poker leagues and home games.

Pokerspace.com – 1.6 average points
 
PokerSpace.com is one of the largest and the most innovative social networks for poker players. Let’s check its blogging capabilities.
 
  1. Blogs are visible just perfectly to the non-members of the community.5.
  2. The text editing has some nice features (such as inserting the card icon) even though the KFCeditor features are a little limited (the link cannot be set to be open in a new window, no picture alignment option). 4.
  3. No tools to customize the design and the layout. 0.
  4. The URI is generated using the words from the title. No chance of editing. 0.
  5. The “AddThis” button allows sharing the blog to any social network or social bookmarking site. 5.
  6. Unfortunately, the RSS is not available. 0.
  7. The blogs are indexed, but there are not many SEO features. 1.
  8. The only statistics are the rating and the comments. No number of views available. 1.
  9. No scheduling options as well as no privacy settings. 0.
  10. Tagging and categories are not available.0.
The total evaluation is 5+4+0+0+5+0+1+1+0+0=16/10=1.6. Personal verdict: blogging IS recommended despite some missing features. The main benefit of having a blog at pokerspace is the active community, which reads and comments on every interesting blog.
 
Pocketfives.com – 3.8 average points
 
Pocketfives.com is one of the biggest poker communities (the biggest one - 2+2 - does not have the member blogging feature) with quite interesting tools for the poker players. Blogging is one of the features, but it is not at the main spot.
 
  1. The blogs are perfectly visible to the outside visitors.5.
  2. There are all the main text editing and formatting options as well as the possibility to edit the post's HTML code.4.
  3. Not possible to customize the design template and the layout of the blog.0.
  4. There is a possibility to manage the URI using the advanced editor (Options>Name field). All spaces are converted into an underscore mark _ automatically.5.
  5. Sharing it to various social networks and social bookmarking sites is available using the “ShareThis” box. 5.
  6. Subscription to various RSS readers is available.4.
  7. The blog is quite SEO friendly. At the Manage Content section of the Dashboard the blog author can even add the H1 title and manage the tags. There is also a blogroll available for the link exchange with the other blogs. The blog description text can be added.4.
  8. The stats show views and the AggViews (no idea what that is).3.
  9. Scheduling and privacy options are available in Advanced editor.5.
  10. Unfortunately, there is no category option, but Tagging is available.3.

Total evaluation is 5+4+0+5+5+4+4+3+5+3=38/10=3.8. Personal verdict: blogging IS recommended in PocketFives.com as well as other activities – leagues, forum, podcasts, liver tournament reporting etc.

I have analyzed only a few communities. There are much more of them that offer writing blogs. Maybe in the future I will analyze some more of them just to show you the best places for blogging.
 
It is now clear what are the most missing features:
  1. The URL editing is useful to all those who care at least a little bit about the SEO.
  2. The design and layout editing is essential when you want to advertise your blog and need to add some badges, widgets, Blogrolls, buttons for Technorati or BlogCatalog submission etc.
  3. Statistics of the views, incoming traffic, referring sites, maybe countries and keywords from the search engines.
Once these 3 features are developed in the majority of the poker blog engines, the bloggers will no longer need the services of Wordpress or Blogger. They would find everything they need at their favorite poker social networks. 

Comments

AdSense and Other Monetization

You don't raise the issue of whether or not poker bloggers can put advertising on their poker-community blogs. This is an important feature, and would weigh heavily in any decision I made to start a blog in one of these communities. (I have a more-or-less dormant blog that I run under an old version of Movable Type on my own server -- and it generates about $100/year in Google AdSense revenue even in its idle state.)

SEO customizability is a means to an end; I don't really see the point of it if I don't get a concrete return for putting my writing through the odd stylistic contortions it calls for.