GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 5 - May 2008

Freeroll marketing strategies continue to evolve Freeroll tournaments are a popular marketing tool, but in order to make them more effective, affiliate programs have been forced to become more creative By Gary Trask B y the very essence of its name, a “freeroll” tourna- ment is just that: a chance for a player to win something for nothing. Simply put, it’s a no-lose proposition for the player. But what about the affiliate and affiliate program? What is the gain from offering a freeroll? And whatever that gain may be, is it worthwhile in the long run? The answer to that question seems to vary, depending on whom you ask. Either way, fre- erolls are very much a big part of the online poker landscape. “I think there will always be a place for them somewhere,” says Aaron O’Sullivan, the e-gaming marketing manager for 32Red. “I personally don’t see the day coming when they would be completely avoided.” PokerStars, one of the giants of the online poker indus- try, certainly s e e m s to agree. According to Poker-, PokerStars is by far the busiest poker room online, averaging more than 14,000 players a day. And when it comes to freerolls, PokerStars hosted an estimated 28 a day during a one- week span in the month of May. Also offering large numbers of freerolls during the same one- week span were Chipleader’s Ultimate Bet (22 per day) and Absolute Poker (17), both popu- lar destinations for online poker players. “Freerolls help us welcome a new partner as well as help them get a surge of new registrations, which is good for everyone,” the Chipleader team told the GPWA Times. “We continually fill up all of our freeroll tourneys. We have seen some that are set at a 500- seat max and we get complaints that they are too small. And this is for a $100 freeroll tourney. So we can definitely say that they are extremely popular.” Freerolls also give affiliates and affiliate programs a chance to introduce players to unfamiliar software and attract new play- ers who may not be sure of their ability. It serves ESTIMATED DAILY FREEROLLS* *During a one-week span