It seemed like a very short time ago Lou Krieger posted on Facebook that he had cancer and was undergoing treatment. But only a few months later the post came informing the world that a great poker teacher, writer, friend, and all-around nice guy had passed on.
I thought about not writing anything about Lou, Nolan Dalla did such a great job that it’s a tough act to follow. But I knew Lou from a different side than most.
I got my first email from Lou on March 22nd, 2002, from the email address Tymestar12(at)aol.com, under Roger Lubin, signed Lou Krieger. He said PokerWorks was a nice site, loaded fast, etc. He had been looking for something online and ran across the site and enjoyed nosing around. He was kind enough to lie and say it was a nice site. It was a mom and pop POS* put together by yours truly who used a program to build it and really didn’t have a strong clue on WTF to do…but that being said, that was the beginning of our friendship.
We did exchange phone numbers and continued with emails, most I won’t share but this one was his adamant determination to force me to pay attention to my writing…God bless his heart!
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Saturday, March 23, 2002 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: nice site
In a message dated 3/23/02 8:20:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
> I know that I need to edit and my grammar isn’t always correct…normally what happens is I do a quick once over and publish to the web…Not a good idea. I’m trying to work on my bad habits. I fear my grammar needs a little more than that, like maybe a refresher course. Please don’t think I’m being critical or upset with your statements. I know you’re right.
> ***Listen, very few of us are born grammar experts or remember this crap from elementary school. But if you get a good grammar reference and use it when you write and as you edit your work, you’ll soon render your writing a lot more literate. And editors look carefully at this stuff, believe me. Maybe not editors at Card Player, but real ones do.
>I’d recommend purchasing “The Gregg Reference Manual,” by William A. Sabin. You can probably get it in any big bookstore, or online at Amazon. “A Writer’s Reference,” by Diana Hacker is also a good grammar book. I use them each and every time I write. I’ve written more than 300 magazine articles and four books, and I still don’t know this stuff cold. And I never will. But my writing is literate, the grammar is good, and the syntax correct simply because I take pains to make it so. Anyone can. And with your substantial talent, you should. Really.
> One of my biggest problems is time. I work, write as fast as I can when I can, try to keep up with yard work, hiking, exercise, poker, life…you know the routine.
> ***When I wrote my first book, I had a full-time job, played poker on the side, and was involved in a relationship that failed because I spent every evening and most weekends doing nothing but writing that poker book. But that book was my priority. A misguided one, perhaps, but a priority nevertheless. So I lost the girl, eventually quit the job, but at the end of the day I had the book. And I’m glad. One book led to the second, and then to an opportunity to write a couple of “Dummies” books — big time publisher — and all because I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I finished the book. You can do the same thing if you commit to it.
> I truly appreciate your comments and your offer of help. I’ve never wanted to write for a magazine because I wanted to state poker as I see it, the people side of it. The things that really happen at the table are never reported in magazine articles or books on poker. I do have a lot of writing plans and projects floating in my head.
> ***So don’t write for the magazines, though I think you have enough true stories that would not offend advertisers. And if you don’t, then you’ll have to collect your short stories, look for a literary agent, and have them sell your stuff as a book. That’s a tough row to hoe, but it can be done. You probably need some education in how writing is sold, and what the literary business is all about — or you will if you want to write a book — but you do have some decisions to make if you want to take your writing from the level of merely posting it on your own web site to the next level: published author.
> Next time I’m out in daylight, I’ll look for Richard Ford.
> ***Not good enough. He’s worth a special trip. If you don’t see yourself in his short stories, I’ll be sadly mistaken.
BTW, what do you do for a living now? Are you a poker dealer?
PS: Forgive the longwinded response. I think your writing touched a nerve in me. For some reason I just want to take you by the shoulders, shake you, and tell you to get up, get on your feet, and write a fucking book. It’s there inside you waiting to get out. Do it.
End of email.
By the end of April we were talking about meeting for the first time – he was coming to Vegas for a wedding and we kicked around meeting for breakfast after I got off work but it didn’t happen. He was coming back for BARGE in August and we planned to meet then. Our emails had centered around writing, writing, writing – in the sense of expression and discovery, actually seeing, hearing, and feeling what the other person was writing. He shared some of his work that would be submitted to magazines and I sent him three chapters of a book I have written (that needs a shitload of rewriting) about magic and the element of time. He even lowered his standards enough to say that he would consider writing a fiction book with me – because it was me – where others who asked were told “NO!”
Somewhere along the road of phone calls and emails, the obvious connection of romance surfaced since we were both single and in the same professions – writing and poker. It was a subtle “If this became more than friends…” but always, almost as if treading on very thin ice, no boundaries were ever crossed or promises made from either side.
We did manage to meet at a corner station that had a small 24-hour restaurant attached – along about 6 a.m. on a Saturday. He’d been up late, was going to play the BARGE tournament, and then thought he would just literally die from exhaustion. We ate, talked, he drove me home – the old digs – even though it was less than a half block away. Off he went and off I went to pass out…I worked the night before.
I liked him, even loved his spirit and the way he understood another’s expression of themselves, but really felt nothing even remotely resembling any kind of physical relationship. We continued sending emails and talking on the phone and finally decided I should go visit him in Palm Springs. I left Vegas on September 31st and spent the weekend at his place. We took a drive out and about the area he lived in, we went downtown and ate, he did some writing, I watched a little TV, we went to Aqua Caliente and played poker. I slept on the couch, he in his bed…yeah…I know there’s other places that work perfectly for getting it on, but we didn’t. There was no chemistry. I went home, no promises made, and was relieved actually. I had the feeling from our first meeting that it would simply be ‘friends’ but we had so much in common, I thought I should put more effort into finding out, it just felt better this way.
As is the usual, the emails dropped off, but still one would send to the other now and then. In 2006 I got an email from Lou saying his employment with Royal Vegas Poker had ended and he was interested in coming to PokerWorks on the blog team and tendered the possibility of linking some of his other works too. Yes, kids, PokerWorks did have a great blogging team…just about the time the UIGEA went into effect and shot poker revenue straight out into the WTF solar system. PokerWorks was interested in linking up – it was not my decision but if it was, I would say ‘yes.’
We did meet and visit at the 2006 WPBT and talked about the deal. But then everything went south. The UIGEA was signed into law, one of the PokerWorks’ lead programmers made a huge mistake and Google didn’t know we existed for about six months, and everything went straight downhill from there.
So Lou never graced the pages at PokerWorks.
He did send me an invitation to his wedding. If my life had been slightly different at the time, I believe I would have gone. I did not meet his wife.
We friended on FaceBook not long ago but previous to that, I’d see his name on something and the always drifting mind currents would reconnect to some of my contact with him. One thing he said about me that occasionally still makes me wonder where on earth he got the idea. He said that everything I wrote screamed that I was lonely and wanted to be loved. Two things: 1) I am not lonely. I haven’t felt lonely in over 20 years. I like to have people like me and love me, but if they don’t fuck’em. I don’t have time for all that ego patting, waltz around the truth drama and personally, I don’t care if you like me. 2) I never felt that he made the statement as a pick up line or a canned cliche. I sincerely believe he meant it.
So-o-o-o-o did I know Lou Krieger? That’s been a question I’ve pondered more than once with everyone I’ve ever known. Do we ever really know someone? I’d say not, but in a sense, I did know him and I’d venture to say that he lost no sleep over our ‘not connecting’ because experience has taught me that usually both people feel the same way. I wish you peace Lou.
*This is what PokerWorks looked like 10/99 and amazing as it is, all the old forum posts are there. Anyone know how I can capture them and save them? And this is what it looked like along about the time I got Lou’s first email – except it had a white patterned background.