Saturday, 24 July 2010

Malta here we come............

So I’m working away, doing things that affiliates do, when I am contacted on MSN by the manager at Poker Idol. He tells me to check out a tournament that is taking place later that evening.

It’s the final qualifier for their ‘Malta Madness’ tournament. First prize is a $3k package to Malta including Live tournament entry, flights, hotel, boat party etc…..

It’s $220 to enter and there are currently only FIVE entered.

This was, admittedly, still 6 hours before the tournament starts but the manager insists he thinks the tournament will struggle to gain just the 15 players needed to cover the cost of the package.

I contacted a number of my players to bring this to their attention.

Only one responded, surprisingly, as I know a number of my players are keen tournament players and would appreciate the notification.

I kept the software open all day and with just 1 hour to go there were 10 entrants.

I vow to myself that if there are fewer than 15 players 2 mins before the start then I will have to enter.

Sure enough, I register with 30 seconds to go and am number 15 and the final player to register.

Didn’t really see many hands in the first 2 or 3 levels and hit the first break with about 4800 of the 5000 starting chips and placed 9th of the remaining 13 players.

Then I start to hit a few hands in the second session and find myself 2nd in Chips on about 12500 with 10 left.

I’m always happy to make a final table, even if there are only 15 players to start with!!

I’m sitting comfortably now and still in 2nd spot with 8 left when I get dealt KK.

UTG raises and I put in a good size raise. Only the UTG guy calls.

Flop is J high with 2 clubs. I have 2 red Kings.

He checks to me and I bet just over half the pot which is actual about half my opponent’s stack. He calls.

Turn is a Queen of clubs. We both check.

River is another club.

We both check and his pair of 2’s with a club wins the pot. (Nice call preflop and flop I thought..)

I’m still ok though but back in midfield rather than big stacked.

As we get down to 7 left I knock out 2 smaller stacks in 3 hands and I am now chip leader with 5 left.

I’m checking my passport is in date now and I hear the sound of suitcases being dusted off.

I then take a big chunk off the other big stack and I’m comfortably chip leader with just over half of the chips in play.

I then come back to the field when I have to call a couple of all in’s from the 2 short stacks and end up doubling them up.

We get down to heads up when the other big stack knocks out both short stacks and gives himself 55k to my 20k.
I admit to not being the best HU player, mainly due to the fact that it’s pretty unusual for me to get this far in a tournament, but I figure that I only need to hit a few half decent hands and this is all mine….

Of course I hit endless 9-2, 7-3, 10-3, 9-5, etc…

The one time I got dealt JJ and I min raised pre flop. He called, the flop cam J high and he OPEN FOLDED!!

When that happened I stopped applying the sun cream and put away my Maltese phrase book.

This obviously wasn’t going to be my day…..

The final hand saw me all in with 3-3 v AQ. The board ended up double paired which counterfeited my pair.

I then realised that the person who won was my friend from earlier on who’d done me with the pocket deuces!!

Although very disappointed, I can’t remember the last time I got such a buzz playing in a tournament.

It made me realise that there really is some insane value out there if you look so I’ve made it my mission to keep trawling the sites to find these little gems.


Monday, 19 July 2010

Good service is not ‘rake dependent’.

How do you keep players loyal?

Once you have a significant player base, the next dilemma for the affiliate is how to keep players actually playing.

With the industry being so competitive now, any affiliate that is serious about his job cannot afford to just sign up a player and assume he’ll just keep playing and generating commission for him.

You would hope that the player has chosen you at first because he felt that your deal and service were the best option for him at the time.

However, if your attitude, as the affiliate, is that your job is now done, then you are not going to be successful.

Just because you provided the best option 3 months ago does not mean that the player is not constantly looking around, just to make sure he can’t do better.

The duty of the affiliate is to make sure that he continues to offer the best deals and service for every single player.

You have to make sure that there is not another option out there that is clearly better than what you offer and, if there is, do whatever you can to ensure you provide a reasonable alternative for your players, just in case they start considering a change.

This is a full time job in itself.

It is very easy to spend time on a player that rakes $15k a month, bend over backwards for him, answer his emails before others and generally ‘go the extra mile’.

But the mark of the good affiliate is to do this for every single player.

The guy that played a few $1 MTT’s last month who is asking you about the VIP system on iPoker is just as important. He is asking you because he does not know and he sees you as the person to answer his questions.

As the affiliate, you must never lose site of what you are supposed to be doing.

You are offering a service to the players. This is not ‘rake dependent’ or ‘volume related’.

You cannot be successful if you don’t appreciate something as fundamental as ’best service for all customers’.

The guy that made you $0.03 in commission last month may just know somebody who grinds on PokerStars and rakes $10k a month.

If you spent hour after hour on MSN explaining how a VIP system worked or even just chatting to the guy that just moved house and was unable to play lately but was hoping to start again soon, who will they recommend when their $10k raker friend tells then they are thinking of moving from Stars because they can’t play any longer without some sort of rake back?

The nature of the industry is such that large scale advertising is not really cost effective for mid-sized affiliates like ourselves.

More new business is going to come from referrals and ‘word of mouth’ and, for that very reason, every single one of your players is equally important as the rest, regardless of whether they rake $10k a month or $0.

If you are doing your job well then you should notice a pattern….

Players who have not even played under you for maybe a year will still contact you to see if you can hook their friend up with a deal. Players that rake high amounts will contact you BEFORE they consider some other deal that apparently returns higher amounts.

It is like a show of loyalty for the good service. They are thinking of moving to a different deal but wanted to give you the chance to at least match it and keep their business.

If your service was not up to scratch then these players would move without saying a word.

The fact that they take the time to contact you first means that they appreciate the job you do for them and want to reward you.

The bottom line is that in order to keep players happy, you have to make sure you don’t get left behind.

A good example of this would be the recent move of Betfair to the Ongame Network.

This is going to lead to increased interest in Ongame sites and deals so we had to make sure that when players asked about Ongame, we have a deal that is likely to compare well with what is being offered by other affiliates.

The fact is that we did already have a perfect deal for that situation, but if that Betfair move had happened 2 months earlier, then we would not.

We would have had to make sure that we contacted as many Ongame sites as possible to negotiate the best possible deal available, ready for any enquiries we get.

And all of the time still contacting players, keeping them updated about developments that may interest them and generally making sure we have a list of happy customers.

I sincerely hope we achieve this but we also welcome any criticism that players may have.

We cannot hope to improve deals if we are not aware of the things that are wrong.

I am very proud to say that any negative feedback we get is almost exclusively related to problems that are down to the poker site, as opposed to our own service, but we still want to get involved and try to resolve any issues for the player as soon as possible.

It’s just another thing that an affiliate should want to do as part of providing the very best service possible.

I am sure that we would hear if we are doing it wrong………………..


Friday, 9 July 2010

What's it like being a poker affiliate?

Welcome to the inaugural Blog post of Tetleyboy Affiliates. Now to be known as the TetleyBlog.

I thought I’d devote a little time, on my first post, to a subject that comes up so much when I chat to players.

They want to know what it’s like and do I make good money?

My stock answer is that ‘’it’s hard work’’ and ‘’I do alright’’

Both of these statements are accurate but there is obviously much more to it than this.

I have never worked in an environment where the old adage ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’, has been more appropriate.

When I first started out I was a full time multi-tabling grinder who wondered if there was a little extra money to be made from referring players.

I noticed that it was extremely simple to actually register as an affiliate with any poker site I chose, but it was a whole different thing to actually have a deal that is likely to attract other players.

It didn’t take long to realise that getting a good deal is only a part of the battle.

The next obstacle to overcome was finding potential players and then you had to convince them to trust you.

As an avid user of forums such as Pocket Fives and Two Plus Two I was able message players that had stated that they were in the market for a new deal.

It didn’t take long before I realised that there is a massive amount of competition out there and you absolutely must have a website. Even if you have a player on the verge of signing up for a deal that you may offer, it is often the case that they will ask for your website so they can check it out for themselves. If you have to reply that you do not have one then there is a good chance that this player will start to have doubts.

Think about it……

If you had been contacted by two different people, both offering the same deal, would you prefer to use the person with or without the website?

I would never suggest that affiliates without website are not to be trusted and I would certainly not say that all affiliates with websites can be.

However, it’s an indication that if an affiliate had the inclination to spend the time and dedication required in devising and producing a website, surely there is a better chance that he will work well for you and get the best deal for you.

And here is the key to being a successful affiliate.

You have to realise that the customer is effectively employing your services and the better your service, the more customers you are likely to attract.

Unless you have a huge budget at your disposal for advertising, you have to rely mostly on referrals to bring in new business for you.

The hours are as long as you want them to be but the rewards can be there for the affiliates willing to put in the effort.

Being a GOOD affiliate is not just a matter of signing up a player then forgetting about him as he earns you commission.

You should make sure that you are there to answer any questions promptly and efficiently.

This may seem obvious but it is amazing how many players will come to me, complaining that their last affiliate was no good and the only reason was that ‘he never answered my emails’.

We don’t profess to be online 24 hours a day, and our customers do not expect this, but the fact that we are on MSN just about all day every day and including weekends, has given our players a sense of confidence that the affiliate is there for them if they need them.

I will reserve a different post on another day to give accounts of players contacting me telling me about their downswings, implying that I have set them up at a ’rigged site’.

Contact from players is not only, ‘my payment is late, can you chase it for me’.

Our players know that they can contact us on MSN or email about anything even remotely related to poker.

This leads to a very wide range of communication subjects and we would not have it any other way.

The bottom line is that we LOVE poker and LOVE to talk about poker and anything related to poker.

We spend up to 12 hours a day contacting poker sites, negotiating deals, finalising new promotions to advertise, processing player payments, following up on enquiries, updating websites, chatting to potential new players, explaining how VIP deals work, bonus release rates, etc….

But we wouldn’t want it any other way because that is what we LOVE doing and we hope this comes through in our quality of service.

It seems that this initial post to launch our Blog page has turned into self promotion but I’m not going to apologise for that.

We are proud of the job we do here and we feel confident that our players appreciate it.

Future posts will likely involve topics relating to all aspects of the poker industry but don’t be surprised if a little self-advertising slips in……..

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and that you will check back regularly to see what’s going on in the world of your favourite poker affiliate.

Good luck at the tables.