Robbie Strazynski | Founder of Cardplayer Lifestyle
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Robbie Strazynski, founder of Cardplayer Lifestyle. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he gained from running the business.
Who is Robbie Strazynski?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
I’m 40 years old, married +3, and have been self-employed for 5 years. I’ve been living in Israel for 23+ years after having been born and raised in Los Angeles. My BA and MA are in English Linguistics. Prior to becoming self-employed I worked at multiple jobs in both the online gaming as well as education sectors. I have a life-long enchantment with poker, having learned the game as a child and having been playing home games recreationally for almost 20 years.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
I’m fortunate to have had numerous individuals positively influence me throughout my life. From my parents to my rabbis and educators in school to professionals both in and outside the poker industry whom I’ve worked with and for. The best lessons aren’t taught – they’re caught. For that reason it’s so critical to surround oneself with good, inspirational people and to try and emulate their behavior, both privately and publicly, as well as professionally.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Don’t always look at spending money as a “cost,” but rather sometimes it can be considered an investment. Don’t be afraid to outsource things. Sometimes, people can do things just as well or even better than you can… and that’ll free you up to devote your time to higher priority things.
Q: What is Cardplayer Lifestyle?
Cardplayer Lifestyle is a top poker media website, regularly churning out news and feature stories, interviews, op-eds, poker strategy content, podcast recaps, and more. The brand represents “the ideal” in poker for recreational players and fans of the game. Occasionally we also cover live events around the world, including the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and other marquee tournament poker series. Plus, we’ve just recently branched out to host our inaugural Mixed Game Festival, which I hope will be the first of many such events to come.
Q: What makes Cardplayer Lifestyle different from its competitors?
I’d like to think we don’t really have any competitors. Sure, there are plenty of other poker media sites, but they all kind of take a conventional approach to providing coverage of the goings-on in the poker world, and typically subsist on the conventional “affiliate revenue model” vis a vis online poker operators. Cardplayer Lifestyle does things a bit differently. We don’t do poker gossip. We don’t do live reporting of poker hands. For the most part we don’t regurgitate the same stories other outlets cover either. I believe we take different, usually deeper, storytelling angles on the news and in the interviews we conduct. We dedicate a lot of column space to producing strategy content and reviews of popular poker training courses and poker books, so that our audience can utilize it to improve their own skills as recreational players.
And when I say “we,” I’m using that word somewhat unconventionally, too. I own the site and don’t have any employees. That said, besides the writing I do on my own, I commission most of our content from numerous talented freelance writers. A few months ago, for the first time, I began paying a couple wonderful people on a monthly basis to assist me with back-end content preparation as well as the brand’s social media efforts.
Lastly, I work from home about 95% of the time, save for my trips abroad to poker festivals. All that “poker work” is done in a country without any legalized poker rooms online or in brick and mortar establishments. I’d say that’s pretty unconventional.
Q: What led you to start Cardplayer Lifestyle?
Back in late 2009, my buddy suggested we start a poker blog together. He knew webmastering while I knew how to write and followed everything going on in the poker world. There was never any sort of “long-term plan”; it essentially started on a whim, as we thought we could make a few bucks on the side from advertisers. Over the next 2.5 years I learned basic webmastering skills from him and eventually bought out his half of the business when his interest waned.
For about 7 years since its founding, Cardplayer Lifestyle was exclusively a “nights and weekends” pursuit; something I engaged in passionately during my free time with increased fervor as the years passed. In tandem with my increased publishing frequency, the audience grew, and so did my skills as a webmaster. By March 2017, the revenue from my “side hustle” had grown to the point where I chose to take a leap of faith and run Cardplayer Lifestyle as my full-time job. Thankfully, the growth has been consistent and constant since that point. The business has long evolved from being just a simple blog and is now a fully-fledged, well-respected poker media outlet with a sterling industry reputation.
I love poker, but I know I could never be a professional player and that I always want to live in Israel. Running a poker media website and business has been “my way in” to be able to live my passion. It’s a true blessing to be doing something I love for a living.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
It’s taught me just how driven I can be to succeed when something really matters to me. It’s taught me that I value the ability to govern my time as I choose incredibly highly, and that I NEVER want to go back to being an employee. It’s taught me that chasing dreams doesn’t have to be the realm of fantasy, and that with hard work, the support of great people, and some good fortune from Up Above, even the most impossible goals are achievable.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you and the company in the next 5 years?
Hopefully, in the same direction they’ve headed for the last 5 years since I took that leap of faith: upwards! When I first started out doing this full time, conventional wisdom was to have some sort of business plan. When sharing that notion with a valued mentor of mine, she gave me some pretty solid advice: “keep doing what you’re doing, and good things will happen.” At the time, I laughed pretty hard, but over time I began to understand the depth and wisdom of her advice. So, that was… and remains the plan.
For more information please visit CardPlayerLifestyle.com.
And if you like card games in general, True Tamplin (the founder of Finance Strategists) created Presidents Card Game, a game based on the traditional deck game “Presidents & A**holes.”