Tuesday night I rushed to the airport at around 6:30. I had a fantasy football at 7:00 pm and my flight left at 9:30. I was able to draft for about 7 rounds in the Delta terminal before Herb and Ihad to get on the plane. I planned on sleeping the majority of the flight to Amsterdam. However, I ended up watching movies the entire trip! The last two months have been hectic so it was nice to just chill and catch up on movies I have wanted to see.We got into Amsterdam around 4pm on Wednesday and caught a flight to Budapest. The Chipleader crew was on our flight and we chatted with them a bit once we landed in Budapest. It was nice to finally meet our affiliate manager Danielle. After months of emailing back and forth it was cool to put a face to an email address.Herb and I got settled in our hotel around 6:30. The hotel we stayed at, The Budapest Intercontinental, looks over the Danube river. We paid a few extra bucks to get access to their VIP area.The VIP area had breakfast every morning, wireless Internet, couches for meetings, and a gorgeous view of the Danube and the Hungarian Parliament. After unpacking our bags, we took a stroll down the river walk and found a place to eat. After dinner, we both worked for a few hours and then passed out.Thursday was filled with meetings at the Sofitel next door to our hotel. We met with several of the poker rooms we work with and a few who we are considering adding to the PAS Network. At night we had dinner in the square downtown. Hungarians love meat almost more than Americans. Every dish on the menu was something like “block of ham with knuckle of pork”. After dinner I met up Philippe from Rakefox.com. We had drinks and chatted about his experience as a gossip blogger and movie director. Philippe is really excited about his new poker affiliate business and came to Budapest to learn more about the industry.Friday morning the jet lag finally set in. Getting out of bed was a chore and I reverted to my college days by soaking in a cold shower and slapping myself in the face repeatedly. Herb and I crushed the breakfast buffet downstairs and then headed to the conference center. Upon checking in, we were given badges with our names and yellow label that said we are “affiliates” (poker rooms have red tags that say “operators”). The yellow “affiliate” tag is equivalent to the scarlet letter given to witches in the 1700’s. The operators/booth owners hire local models to pass out fliers to affiliates. They check your badge for the yellow kiss of death and hoard you like a used car salesmen. Herb and I quickly learned that flipping our badges over was the way to go. The flier girls would try to read our badges, get confused when they couldn’t see “Affiliate” and leave us alone.After another day of non stop meetings in the conference area I had the pleasure of attending the Poker Affiliate Listings dinner at Spoon. There were about 17 PAL members at the dinner. We chowed down on local food and kept the drinks flowing. Planet Mark and his fiance Erika actually live in Budapest so they gave us the low down on the city and told us what to order for dinner. They saved me from ordering goose liver again :)Saturday morning the conference was a buzz with the news of Harrahs Casino launching a poker site on the 888 Network. Harrahs network choice is somewhat puzzling to me and others in the industry. Maybe they know something we don’t. After a few meetings in the conference hall I had the pleasure of meeting Doyle Brunson. I thought I would be nervous but hearing his familiar Texas accent but me at ease. We chatted about Texas football and his days playing basketball at Hardin Simmons college in Abilene.After meeting Doyle (one of the coolest experiences in my life) I headed to a SEO speech on Geo Targeting. The presenter was half in the bag and didn’t make much sense. Giorgio, Philippe, and I kept on looking at each like “Is this guy nuts?”. PM or email if you want details. Some of the things he said about Google and Matt Cutts were extremely controversial. I would rather not repeat them on here since they are undoubtedly not backed up by facts. Suffice it to say, I didn’t learn much but enjoyed watching the presenter make a fool out of himself.Saturday night Chipleader took us to a Indian restaurant next to our hotel. It was my first time to eat Indian food. I was a bit timid to try a few dishes because they were orange and yellow. In my culinary experience, yellow and orange do not mix well with the old stomach and palate. To my surprise the food was delicious! After dinner we stopped to have drinks at the Sofitel. Another one of the SEO speakers came to say hello to a member of our party. He and I ended up chatting for the next two hours about SEO and his history in the industry (he used to be the in house SEO for Party Poker). If you told me five years ago that I would end up chatting about SEO on a Saturday night in Budapest instead of partaking in the local bar scene, I would have deemed you to be crazy. Guess I am getting old and boring.After drinks, Herb and I headed back to the hotel to catch some sleep before our flights the next morning. I couldn’t sleep though. After 35 meetings in 3 days, my mind was filled with checklists of things that needed to be done upon my return to the office. Overall, the trip was a massive success. We solidified several new promotions for PAS publishers/players, met new advertising partners, and caught up with old friends. This was my first trip to Europe and I fell in love with the people as well as the city of Budapest. I will post some pics tomorrow once I figure out how to upload them from my Android.Tony


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