Lou Krieger — The Writer Who Grew Poker
The poker world lost one its great writers and ambassadors yesterday morning with the passing of Lou Krieger. Lou, best known as the co-author of Poker for Dummies and ten other poker-strategy titles, and for hosting the “Keep Flopping Aces” radio show and blog, had hundreds of published poker credits to his name and was at the top of anyone’s list of poker writer/ambassadors.
He also served as a long-time contributor to Card Player, was the one-time site ambassador for the formerly US-facing site Royal Vegas Poker, and was until recently the editor of Poker Player Newspaper, among several other prominent gigs.
Lou, born Roger Lubin in Brooklyn, spent the latter part of his life in Palm Desert, CA, and excelled at mid- and high-stakes limit hold’em, the topic of several of his poker books. He was more than a limit specialist, however, and his books were targeted largely at beginners and intermediate players, sure proof of his ability to instruct players in the basics of the game.
Lou was foremost among poker writers, however, for his willingness and desire to nurture other poker writers, and he went out of his way to give newer writers chances to develop. I was one of those, and Lou did me several huge favors over the years. Nor am I the only one, and several of the other poker writers whose lives Lou improved over the years have also published their condolences and thanks for his various gifts.
I first met Lou (in the virtual sense) via his sponsorship gig at Royal Vegas Poker. Lou served as the face of the site for much of last decade, until the site, as with all Microgaming skins, was forced to leave the US after the UIGEA passage in late 2006. I’d become friends with Lou through the bounty tournaments he ran featuring several of his poker friends, folks like Barbara Enright, Al Schoonmaker and Matt Lessinger.
Lou talked with a lot of his regular players, including me, and he looked at some poker crosswords I’d done after he’d learned I was also a writer, back when I was curious about doing poker work. Lou took the time to read some of the non-poker stuff I was producing back then and encouraged me to do more poker work, since I’d also demonstrated basic knowledge of the game.
He also put his money where his mouth was, and he went out of his way to support his friends in times of need. Here’s a tale of one such instance:
Lou and I e-mailed each other a lot, and my fortunes, as with most freelancers, tended to ebb and flow. At one of my low points, a couple of years after we’d met online, Lou took it upon himself to give me a gig out of the blue, serving as a preliminary copy editor on The Rules of Poker, which he co-wrote with Sheree Bykofsky. It remains a good book, and I recommend it as a primer for those interested in hosting their own poker events, becoming a dealer or tournament director, or just learning more about the game.
Here’s the kicker: I know I did a good job for Lou and Sheree, and Lou was paying me plenty for what I did. When I got the check, I found he’d paid me extra… just sneaking it in.
That was typical Lou. He enjoyed making a good living, sure. He also enjoyed not only playing poker, but being able to write about it, and I’m sure he counted himself as blessed simply to have the opportunities that poker provided, and he wanted to share that joy rather than keeping it to himself.
The story above is not atypical. There are a lot of good, prominent poker writers — people whose bylines you read every day — who owe their starts to Lou.
Speaking of, a lot of people would have been devastated to lose a gig such as the one he had with Royal Vegas Poker. Not Lou; he told me something like, “I couldn’t believe how much they were paying me, and I was just enjoying the gravy train while it lasted.”
What’d he do, in the aftermath? He signed contracts to do a couple of more books, and redoubled his efforts on his “Keep Flopping Aces” show, which he’d launched with another unsung talent of poker media, Amy Calistri.
And he went on with his life, doing the things he enjoyed outside poker as well. He was an avid bicyclist, loved to travel with his wife Dierdre, used to enjoy the occasional game of pick-up basketball with some of his celebrity neighbors, and had plenty of great anecdotes about poker and life to share.
His friends had been aware of his recent fight against esophageal cancer, and I think we all thought he was going to succeed, even if that’s one of the tougher forms of the disease to conquer. For a while, too, it seemed like he was making gains, being able to go back to solid food after being down to soup before his diagnosis. Alas, the cancer fought back, and finally got the best of him yesterday.
Several of his friends and poker–world associates have published pieces. I recommend them all. In no small part, because of Lou, I was able to join the fraternity of poker media, which is an eclectic but very rewarding group, and has… well… kept the lights on. I’ve always been grateful to him for that.
Rest in peace, friend. And thanks again for all you’ve done.