Shortly after I agreed to join Poker.org, one of my colleagues asked me, “What does your dream team look like?”
You know the look a dog will give you when you ask if it wants to go for a walk? That was me.
Because I’m the kind of guy who creates imaginary dream teams for fun.
I’m a baseball fan who grew up watching the St. Louis Cardinals. Tomorrow afternoon, the Cardinals will take the field in the first game of Major League Baseball’s 2022 postseason, and they will do so with three veteran players who are among the best who have ever played the game. Two of them are locks for baseball’s Hall of Fame, and you could make an argument for the third. As a Cardinals fan, it is the closest to my baseball dream team as I will likely get for the rest of my life.
I build dream teams when I’m trying to go to sleep. An ideal rock and roll supergroup. A perfect podcast panel. The best cast for a film. The best poker stream lineup.
And most recently…the best team for an ambitious poker media outlet with some fairly audacious goals.
So, along with some great behind-the-scenes thinkers at Poker.Org, I set about creating a list of people who would be on my dream team. That full list is known only to me, but there was one name on it that is secret no more.
What did my dream team look like?
Well, today it looks a little bit more like Sarah Herring.
No introduction required
I’ve known Sarah for nearly 15 years and have worked with and around her all over the world. Her talent and reputation precede her everywhere she goes, and if you are reading this, I don’t have to tell you how good she is at what she does. There are many talented presenters out there, but none of them do what Sarah does in the way she does it. Again, I don’t have to tell anyone that. It’s just a fact.
What you may or may not know is this: Sarah’s talent, ingenuity, and creativity are even more present when the camera isn’t on. Beyond being relatable, hilarious, and poised, she is a thoughtful, analytical, intelligent creator. She understands how one medium intersects with another in 2022. She thinks beyond baked-in tropes and canned production. She does more than simply see that the media landscape is changing. She is constantly thinking about how to change it in a way that benefits the audience and the industry.
She could have joined the team based on those qualities alone, but they aren’t her best asset.
What makes Sarah the perfect addition to a dream team?
She is the most authentic person I’ve ever known in poker.
Poker.Org’s mission to become the independent voice of the player is rooted deepest in the belief that the industry wants for an authoritative, experienced, and authentic team of journalists who are seeking out the stories, voices, and opinions of the players in the game. We aim to be the most objective source for news in the industry, and when we lack that objectivity to either find it or publicly recognize the unavoidable bias. We are already working to build that trust with our audience, and we recognize we can’t buy the reputation we plan to build. We have to earn it.
Part of earning your trust is building a team of people you can trust, and I would stake my reputation on Sarah Herring’s authenticity. When she is on camera, you are seeing the real Sarah. When the camera is off, she is the same person. She believes in truthful storytelling, and she won’t pretend she knows something if she doesn’t. That kind of authenticity requires courage, and that is the kind of courage I believe is part of Sarah’s DNA.
While I didn’t plan on bringing this up, an online…critic…chose to do so in reply to Sarah’s personal announcement yesterday. So, let’s talk about it.
Earlier this year, Sarah interviewed Brynn Kenney about a series of allegations he had been facing. She admitted in the interview that she had worked around Brynn for years and knew him well. She let him talk, and some people accused her of not asking Kenney the tough questions.
Sarah and I have talked about this privately, and I’m not going to share that conversation. However, I feel 100% comfortable that both Sarah and I know that our mission at Poker.Org will always inform the editorial decisions we make in a situation like the Kenney interview. And no matter what she or I thought of that interview and what followed, it in no way diminishes my trust in her. Her body of work over the past two decades of poker speaks for itself, as does she in her response to the critic.
Like anyone in the public eye, Sarah has faced criticism in the past, and she would be the first to point out anything she might change. Ultimately, she is an expert in policing herself and how she approaches projects, and I trust her to continue doing that. Moreover, she is joining a team that works every day to hold each other accountable in the same way that we expect our audience to hold us accountable.
Put simply: if we can’t trust Sarah, I’m not sure who we can trust.
What’s to come
I wish you could have seen our small team trying to come up with Sarah’s job title.
Every title that anyone suggested felt like it was too limited in describing what we expect Sarah to accomplish here. I won’t bore you with the job title list, but I’m beyond happy to finally announce that Sarah Herring will be our first Head of Instant Media.
When she joins us in November, Sarah will be in charge of our projects that reach you the fastest and how you find our news in the most immediate forms. Whether that is a video on a social platform, an interactive conversation in the middle of a live stream, or interviews we conducted just seconds before, Sarah will be overseeing it all. She’s eagerly accepted the challenge of developing projects you have not yet experienced. She’s bringing Poker.org ideas that have never been tried anywhere else and could change the way you consume poker content. Sarah has a deep understanding of how existing platforms deliver content, and she shares our vision of how to adapt those platforms and build new spaces we believe the poker industry needs.
And here’s the thing: she will do more than that.
She will do more than her title suggests, because that’s the kind of person Sarah is and wants to be. We aim to give her the environment and freedom to be everything we already know her to be…and more.
The Poker.org commitment
If there is one scary thing about building a dream team, it’s the fear you might fail one of your teammates.
Sarah is leaving a comfortable job and secure career at PokerNews to join us here. That weighs heavily on me, because she is trusting all of us at Poker.Org with her career and reputation. That is no small thing.
I, too, left a longterm and comfortable career at PokerStars to take this job. I did it because I believe in the mission and the people behind it. I believe in why this effort is important. I believe in the need the industry has for this kind of mission.
Sarah could have stayed where she was and been comfortable and successful, but she chose to join us because she, too, believes in what we want to do.
While we’ve both taken a gamble with our careers, we’ve done so for the right reasons, and I expect we will now both work doubly hard as we continue to build out Poker.org’s staff.
Because we both know the dream team isn’t complete yet. In fact, it’s just getting started.
Welcome, Sarah. Let’s do this thing.