Introduction: Chris S. — Player Support

Hello everyone. I’ve been with PAS for about two months now, and this is my first chance to reach out to the PAS affiliate community and really introduce myself. I graduated from Villanova University about 10 years ago with a degree in Finance and Management Information Systems. I then worked in estate planning and investments for about 7 years while playing poker as a hobby on the side. I’ve come a long way in my poker career. When I was a kid, I was playing 5-card draw and 7-card stud for pennies with my family. In college, we’d play late night “Dealer’s Choice” card games in college for beer and pizza money. Shortly after college, the summer before the year of Chris Moneymaker, I got into bonus chasing playing small stakes limit hold ‘em, and it was at that point where I became really hooked. Now for the past 3-4 years, I was mass multi-tabling small stakes no limit 6-max at Eurolinx (until they stole my bankroll), then Poker Stars (where I rebuilt my bankroll), and now on the Merge network, where I try to continue playing around 60 hours per month, roughly 40-50K hands, to increase my bankroll and move up in stakes.

I will be blogging here now and again, hoping to give my thoughts and views as an online poker player to the affiliate community here at PAS. If you have any questions or comments, or would like some insight into the mind of an online grinder, I’d be happy to respond in future blogs if you’d kindly post a comment or send a PM to “Player Support” on the PAS forums.

I figured I could wrap this blog up by answering a question posed by Tim in a recent PAS blog.

Q: Dear PAS support, why isn’t player X playing? Why did Player Y stop playing?

Obviously there could be a multitude of reasons why a player is playing less hands, or not playing at all. Perhaps the school year started, or the player just entered into a new relationship and is spending more time with his or her new sweetheart. Maybe the football (or futbol) season started and instead of grinding on a weekend afternoon, the player chooses to watch their favorite sports team. Even the release of a highly anticipated video game such as the new Call of Duty or Starcraft 2, will likely cause a player to put less hours in at the tables. Online poker is a competition, and many poker players are former athletes or gamers that now fulfill their competitive urges playing Texas Hold ‘em or other forms of poker online.

These things are pretty much out of the control of the affiliate. But certain factors that cause a player to log less hands of online poker are controllable. For example, this month I’ve played quite a bit less than I had hoped, after being highly motivated and doing quite well for myself in the month of August. Much of this is stemming from entertaining guests early in the month, but also, my rakeback payment from August was short by about 8%. My affiliate has not responded as of yet (unfortunately I didn’t know about PAS when I created the account!), and that makes me A) less interested in poker, and B) not wanting to give that affiliate my business until the issue is resolved and I know where I stand going forward. Since I’m aware of these factors that keep players at (or away) from the tables, I can assure you we will be working hard to resolve player issues such as these as quickly as possible.

Another motivator (or demotivator) for an online poker player, are the current promotions going on at my favorite poker room that month. It makes it very easy for me to set a goal when I know if I play X amount of days, log Y amount of hands, or pay Z amount of rake I will be rewarded above and beyond my typical rakeback. By being onboard with PAS, everyone here is offering that to their players in the form of rake races, chases, and monthly freerolls. This alone is very big, and an often overlooked factor when a serious online grinder is choosing a rakeback site to sign up with.

I hope some of the above was interesting and insightful to those of you reading this. As I mentioned before, I’d be happy to respond in future blogs to questions regarding what it’s like to be an online poker pro, as well as the current landscape of online poker from a player’s point of view.

-Chris S.
Player Support

Google Instant Launched Today

Google made the biggest change to their search engine in recent memory. Search results will now be displayed instantly as you type your keywords into the search box. For an example please watch the video below.

Why is Google doing this? Well, for starters you will now save approximately 2-5 seconds per search, finding your results faster than ever before. From a business standpoint this change is huge. Google Ad words results will now see a massive increase in impressions, and theoretically clicks.

What does this mean to the affiliate marketer? Its all speculation right now, but if I had to guess we will see a massive decrease in the use of longtail keyword searches. People will find the result they are looking for within the first 3 terms they search, negating the need to keep typing.

Will this lead to webmasters adding spelling errors in attempts to rank for half written words? I don’t know if anything THAT drastic will happen, but let me give you something to think about. The keyword search Poker will return 4 different results if you type it in slowly. Here are the #1 results when typing in Poker.

P – Pandora
PO – Powerball
POK – Pokermon
POKE – Pokermon

Feel free to start a thread in our Poker SEO forum.

Guest Interview with Bill Rini: Part 1

Tony sat down with Bill Rini to discuss his days working for Party Gaming, and his life as an affiliate.

1. When planning your marketing efforts, do you take a different approach as an affiliate than you would as an operator? If so, how?

I’m not sure if I take a different approach but the amount of information, money, and resources are completely different. For instance, an operator can target promotions at $2/$4 limit players in order to increase liquidity in those games. An affiliate simply doesn’t have the data to run such targeted promotions nor are they necessarily concerned with influencing liquidity.

So it’s not that I would approach the marketing efforts differently but as an affiliate I have different goals and different limitations. But at the end of the day you reward player behavior that helps you accomplish your goals so the fundamental theory remains the same.

2. Obviously you see a future in being an affiliate yourself. That being said, with some of the poker rooms having enormous marketing budgets, why do you think the rooms still need affiliates to drive traffic?

Poker rooms tend to have a very narrow view of the world. I’ve written about this before on my blog but they tend to lag behind on social media and other emerging technologies and trends. Most of the people working in marketing for poker rooms aren’t poker players. They’re marketing guys (and women) who know how to buy print and other media but don’t necessarily understand the guerilla level marketing that affiliates are good at. There are a handful of poker rooms who get it but most don’t. That’s where the opportunities for affiliates come in.

3. After working for two of the biggest operators in the industry you started promoting rakeback offers. Why did you choose to go the rakeback route?

Well actually, I promote both rakeback and non-rakeback. But because the site I’m the most well known for has an audience that is mainly poker industry people or very serious players it seemed that promoting rakeback would yield the biggest return.

At a bigger level I feel that there is a fundamental flaw in the way affiliates are compensated. Most affiliates just slap a banner ad on their site and start writing mediocre poker content and expect a lifetime payout for their efforts. But, in general, I think the larger poker rooms are starting to recognize that some affiliates provide ongoing value by helping retain players and they’re struggling to find a way to put a better dollar figure on what those players are worth.

4. You have one week to live. You can bring all of your friends and family with you. Would you spend that week in Thailand, the United States, Malta, or Gibraltar?

Wow, that one isn’t even close. Thailand wins hands down. Being in American the US is a close second only because it’s the country I love as my homeland. Gibraltar and Malta have their appeal but it’s not exactly like you’re going to see an elephant walking down the middle of the street like you would in Thailand.