Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Poker Affiliate Programs

I've been struggling this morning, trying to think of some worthy Tuesday topic to babble on about. Or, to be more accurate, worthwhile babblings that I have some inkling of knowledge about, that others might not. And I'm coming up empty. Bone dang dry.

Granted, part of that is due to my slightly hungover state at the moment, and the general early-morning lack of caffeination. But I'm also hamstrung at times by the feeling that I am just one simple monkey, amongst the mass of monkeys playing poker, and that I really shouldn't be pontificating on anything poker strategy related. Yeah, I've played a bazillion hands online in the last three or four years, yeah, I've run a $50 deposit into a bit over 10K in the past, (and busted out on a few larger buy-ins as well), yeah, I read all them there cool poker books we all read. But really, in the end, I'm still prone to dumb monkey plays, mistakes, and wrong-headed thinking. It's all a process, still, even at this stage, and it's hard to pontificate when one's mindset and philosophy is always changing.

But I do know something about affiliate marketing, and about poker affiliate programs. And I imagine most of you don't. And it could be costing you money. So I'll babble about that.

Poker Affiliate Programs

You've all seen the ads and banners (just look to the right) and cries of Party Bonus Code= IGGY. But what's really going on behind the scenes? And, more importantly, how could you be taking advantage of it?

Affiliate marketing is a pretty simple concept. Let's say you own an online poker site. You want as many players playing there as possible, as the more players there are, the more rake money you make. Like any business (web-based or otherwise), your ultimate success largely depends on how many potential customers you can get in the door.

So you advertise on television, in print, on the radio, the whole nine yards. And that works. But you want more. And you know that there's a whole posse of poker bloggers out there who could be advertising your site, if only you had a way to convince them. Which, lo and behold, you do. Cold, hard cash.

The basic model is simple. For every new player who creates a account and deposits money into it, you pay the person who referred them (the affiliate, which in this case is the poker blogger) a certain amount of money. This could be a flat payout per each new player referred (usually from $50 to $100 per player) or it could be a monthly percentage of the rake they pay (usually 15% to 30%) for the lifetime of their account. The affiliate is provided with banners and other marketing tools to promote the poker site as well as a means of tracking signup and payout stats.

So how does this impact you? In different ways, both direct and indirect. In no particular order:

1) If you're signing up for a new site you've never played at, for the sake of Jebus do it through an affiliate link of a poker blogger. Online poker sites are willing to pay someone, anyone for every new account, and that someone might as well be a poker blogger who has invested a lot of time and thought into the poker content they offer up to the world, free of charge. If you just go directly to Party's site and and signup, no one gets paid. If you click on a poker blogger link first, the blogger
gets a decent little chunk o' change. If someone has provided content you enjoy, support them by clicking a link on their site.

2) If you've got a blog, you could be making extra money as an affiliate yourself. Setting up an affiliate account is free, quick, and simple. Most poker sites allow you multiple payout options, including checks, direct payouts to Neteller accounts, or payouts directly to your own player account at their site. That said, you won't get rich doing it. None of us bloggers make a ton of money via affiliate programs. But it's definitely worth exploring, especially if you have decent traffic coming to your site. Or if you know of some friends or co-workers that you've convinced to play, who are rarin' to go, and more than happy to sign up through a link you toss up on a web page. Like the first point, online sites are more than happy to pay for new players and someone should get that money.

Online poker sites that currently offer affiliate programs include:

  • Empire Poker

  • PokerRoom

  • Absolute Poker

  • UltimateBet

  • PartyPoker

  • InterPoker

  • Pacific Poker

  • Intertops

  • Paradise Poker
  • (currently not accepting new affiliates)

    3) If you play poker (online or in a B&M setting), you pay a rake. Each and every hand. If you play a lot, you'd be amazed at how much rake you're actually paying every month. Many players use a by-product of affiliate marketing to secure a rakeback deal that returns a decent chunk of their rake money back to them. Let's hypothetically say that you sign up through an affiliate poker blogger who has selected to receive the payout option of 20% of the monthly rake of every new player they refer. Let's also say that you're good friends with this blogger, or that you work with them, or for whatever reason you implicitly trust them. It's very possible to signup through their affiliate link and have them pay you a percentage of your rake back. They get 20% of your monthly rake, and agree to pay you 15% of that. It's win-win situation. You get 15% of your rake back, they keep 5%, everyone is happy.

    Here's the only catch. Most online sites forbid rakeback deals as outlined above. While they allow you to offer incentives (such as poker chips or KEM cards), they frown upon cash arrangements such as outlined above. But the reality is that while they may frown upon it, there isn't anything they can do to stop it. Especially if the affiliate is smart and pays the rake back through means not tied to the site, such as PayPal, old-fashioned checks, Neteller transfers, etc. As long as the affiliate isn't stupid and doesn't transfer money directly from their player account on the site involved to another player account, online sites have no means of tracking rakeback deals. For the record, I'd officially never advocate anything that violates the terms of an affiliate agreement, including rakeback deals (wink, wink, nudge nudge). Just putting the information out there.

    One last thing to keep in mind about rakeback deals is that you'll have to create a new account (to sign up through an affiliate) and you have to take bonuses into account. If you get a $100 bonus when signing up for a new account, the affiliate doesn't make anything until you've paid +$100 in rake. When the online site starts making money from you (i.e. when your total rake exceeds any bonuses paid out), then the affiliate starts making money, and can share a percentage of that with you.

    All of which is likely more than you ever wanted to know about affiliate programs. But, like the GI Joe taught many of us: "Knowing is half the battle". Let's just ignore the other major GI Joe lesson: no matter how many people are shooting at one another with all sorts of weaponry, no one ever, ever gets shot.


    Heafy said...

    As you know, I've always been a big suporter of the blog community and affiliates. I think as a general rule we all are pretty good with it...I wonder how much Iggy makes off Party with his code?

    -EV said...

    Good to see someone analyze the affiliate issue without directly advocating for a particular program, etc. I wonder what recommendations you would have for someone (like many of us) who already has accounts at each of the major sites... keep up the good work & "Go Joe!"