GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 25 - June 2013

GPWA AFFILIATE INTERVIEW SERIES Sometimes the best programs for affiliates are the worst programs for players When did you launch your sites? I started my first poker site in 2008, which was a VIP rakeback service that catered to valuable players by providing high levels of personal service. That was very much a person-to-person business, and I was somewhat of a players’ advocate. I was quick to pull sites that weren’t treat- ing players well, and I took my player base with me. Somewhere along the way I morphed into the SEO side of the busi- ness and branched out into almost all niches. My biggest weakness is I start too many sites and buy too many domains. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 we sold three sites that we had worked very hard on for a nice amount of money. That left us start- ing over and rebuilding, but with a healthy budget and some financial security. In late 2012 I built and purchased my first home, located on the starting tee of my country club. It’s safe to say that is was a big achievement for me. I had a previous background in light construction, which helped throughout the process. In 2013 I’m really excited about emerging markets and regulation of various regions, and back to working full time on my business. Your newest site and main focus, On-, covers just about all aspects and every niche of online gaming. That being the case, why did you decide to keep additional sites in your affiliate portfolio? I have invested in the best domains I could possibly find. Most are purchased on the private mar- ket, some at a premium price. When really strong domains are undeveloped, I like to pursue and develop them. I will note that I have promised myself I’ll cut my domains down to a much more manageable num- ber. After all, who could possibly build dozens of great sites? I think with all the changes Google has made in the last year, building a much smaller number of high- quality sites is the best way forward. Many of your sites share a similar de- sign. Why did you make that choice? It’s partially following a philosophy of mine, and partially a weakness in my business. I really struggle with design aspects of a website, including in the planning stages. Also, since I develop so many sites I al- ways follow a strategy of building content and rankings before investing money in design. Reusing themes and modifying color schemes has helped me scale this. I might take a blue site with a left sidebar, and make it in five other colors and with a right sidebar layout as well. This also al- lows me to reuse an ad management plug- in that displays my basic calls to action, and saves a lot of development money in the budget that is better focused on in- creasing earnings. The reason my sites currently share a similar design is we are still in the content phase of construction. A fresh design is high on my to-do list. Where do most of your players come from? What do you think draws them to your sites – and what keeps them com- ing back? We get players from almost every country in the world, and that’s in- tentional. A simple philosophy of ours is to “answer the questions players are ask- ing,” and for various reasons players from country to country can have very differ- ent circumstances and challenges. Even though we try to cater to everyone, there will always be a better localized source, but the world is a big place and technology is delivering accessibility everywhere now. How did you become involved in the in- dustry? Are you an online gambler your- self? I entered the business as a poker player frustrated with the situation in the USA. I started playing in 2006 right be- fore the UIGEA passed, so my entire expe- rience has basically been dealing with the aftermath and fallout of that fateful day. Ironically, since becoming so involved in the industry, I really don’t play anymore. I hope to get back to playing at least for entertainment at some point, post regula- tion, but for now I just play at brick-and- mortar casinos. Are you still a moderator at PAL? Yes, we are a really loosely knit group. Mostly we just help out with the large amounts of spam the site gets, but occasionally we find ourselves able to help members work out a disagreement with an operator or another affiliate. I enjoy the community aspect, and working from home I view the members as my “coworkers.” I’ve also learned everything I know from members of that forum, and enjoy giving back and volunteering my time to help out. Last summer you started a thread about Lock Poker treating affiliates unethical- ly. How hard is it to find reputable op- erators that accept American players these days? It’s harder than ever before; in fact I don’t promote to U.S. players because of it. I find it very frustrating that bad programs exist, because there is a lot of honest money to be made if we all just treat our partners fairly and do the right thing. A couple of great programs remain, but most are not very good and – speaking truly as an honest players’ advocate – sometimes the best affiliate programs are the worst for the players. I choose my partners wisely and personally fo- cus largely on regulated markets. If one thing gets me down about this industry, it’s the way affiliates are seen and treated in some circles. The market is flooded with spammers and people trying to leech money off the programs, which gives us a bad name, and it’s almost un- derstandable that good programs are MJ MJM Age: 34 Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin Living in: Madison Favorite Food: I’m a meat and potatoes type of guy; I love a great steak. Sites: We have over 100 websites and around 400 domains, most of which are related to gambling markets. Most recently we are working on and, but they are very much under construction. GPWA Affiliate Interview Series