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The Mental Game of Poker 2 is Now Available

Date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 Professional

MGPoker2_FrontCover_1.16.131-200x300The pre-order is over and The Mental Game of Poker 2 is also now available as an ebook! Click below to get a copy in your favorite format: Kindle Kindle UK Kindle Canada Kindle Germany Apple iBookstore PDF ePub Nook

Softcover Now Shipping

Today is the last day to get one here for 20% off. You can also pick up copies here: AmazonBarnes & NobleAmazon UKAmazon CanadaAmazon Germany

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1,000 International Stadiums Poker Tour Seats Guaranteed

Date: Wed, Apr 10, 2013 Professional

Today I announced a Blogger Freeroll for Dusk Till Dawn and the International Stadiums Poker Tour. The details are below, I thought however I would explain briefly the background.

I literally thought Blogger Freerolls were very underused in the poker media. I am amazed nobody else has done a big one after the success of the PokerStars World Blogger Championships, which is a brilliant way to get lots of free links from perfectly matched poker blogs.

I’m not actually working for or being paid in anyway by the ISPT or Dusk Till Dawn. I just suggested it to Rob Yong after I met him a couple of weeks ago for an interview, and I want to support the event, so I’ve just helped them with some of the background stuff for it. I’m doing this as a free favour because Dusk Till Dawn is the best cardroom in the world and has done so much for the industry I work in, I really did not want to be paid for it. I also have been super critical of the previous incarnation of the event, something which I still stand by every word of, but since DTD have got involved it has been very much the same as when PokerStars rescued Full Tilt for me.

1,000 International Stadiums Poker Tour Seats Guaranteed

The International Stadiums Poker Tour is your chance to say you played at Wembley. €1 million is guaranteed to the winner. Day ones start live and online from May 11th and day two takes place at the iconic home of English football, Wembley Stadium, between May 31st and June 5th.

You can qualify for free at Dusk Till Dawn Poker, where 1,000 €300 Day One seats will be guaranteed in satellites between May 6th and May 24th.

To win your seat, all you have to do is:

1. Visit the International Stadiums Poker Tour Schedule Page for details on qualifying.

2. Register an account at Dusk Till Dawn Poker, where you will be automatically credited with a €2 satellite token.

3. If you win a €300 day one seat you can use it online or live in one of 10 day ones being held. You can win multiple tickets as this is a re-entry event.

Good luck and see you at Wembley!


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The Mental Game of Poker 2

Date: Wed, Mar 13, 2013 Professional

MGPoker2_FrontCover_1.16.131-200x300Jared Tendler and myself have finally put the finishing touches to our second book The Mental Game of Poker 2. For fans of the first book, it is not a reboot.

The first book dealt with mental game leaks like tilt. This book is all about improving your mental A-game - it covers The Zone, Learning, Focus, Decision Making, Goals, Grinding etc.

It is available for preorder now for 20% off, plus an invite to a free webinar and signed copies.

Check out The Mental Game of Poker 2

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New Blog URL: Poker Media Pro

Date: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 Professional

After a long blog break finishing off The Mental Game of Poker 2, I have returned to my blog about the poker media which I was really enjoying writing, and a few people at least were enjoying reading. I've decided to take it a little more seriously and make it specifically about the poker media, which is why I have created a new blog from scratch and transferred the relevant content from my blogspot blog.

I went with the name Poker Media Pro mainly because I wanted the words poker and media in the URL. I went with pro at the end because its the shortest and therefore most memorable one I could think of, and also because the pro part is a play on the term poker pro, which should make it even more memorable. There is part of me that worried that pro made it sound a bit douchey, but I'll get over it.

The two main areas for discussion on this blog will be:

The Poker Media

The area I have worked in for the last eight years and which I feel I have the most experience in. I started doing these blogs about the poker media specifically because I get so many people contacting me asking for advice on working in the poker media and creating content, that I wanted to document the responses I would give to save me having to write out two page replies every time.
I could blog about all things poker like most of my peers, but this is one niche which I feel is big enough for there to be some interest, yet to my knowledge has little to no competition. If there is one thing I have learned from working with Jared Tendler it is how powerful it is to be the only person who does what you do. Of course the people who are interested in the poker media are vastly fewer in number than the people interested in Jared's work, but it is nice to have the chance to make myself the 'go to' guy for poker media regardless.

Poker Marketing

The other thing I get asked about on a regular basis is advice on how to get more exposure for poker products. Marketing was one of my main roles at PokerNews, I have had a few private consulting gigs for small poker companies in recent years, and to date my biggest marketing success was The Mental Game of Poker, which has sold tremendously well despite being released on Black Friday of all dates.
Poker marketing is a much more competitive niche, but I think I have discovered a niche within the niche, which is poker marketing on a budget. We barely spent a penny on the marketing for The Mental Game of Poker and there is so many effective ways to reach the audience which don't mean you have to pay for adverts or to stick a patch on Michael Mizrachi.

So for those of you who subscribed to my blog, bookmark as that is where I'll be doing most of my blogging from now on.

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Poker Awards and Bluff Power 20

Date: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 Professional

No this blog is not dead, I'll explain why I've been AWOL for a few months shortly.

2013 is going to start very hectically for yours truly. I'm proud to say I have been selected (once again) to judge the European Poker Awards. This year alongside me are two of my genuine poker heroes, Jesse May and Joe Beevers, so I am really looking forward to it.

I have also been selected (for the first time) to be on the panel of 50 to select the Bluff Power 20 next year. I don't consider this to be an awards system, I genuinely think its a fascinating snapshot of our industry. You only have to look at how much it has evolved in the last three years, from being quite player centric to very industry and regulatory focussed. I'm a tad nervous for the simple reason I am not as versed on the US politician side of things, but I do feel I have a few suggestions for people who have been quite overlooked in recent years - I'll share my personal 20 when I've done it.

Still mega busy with, still love the place, they really are the best company I've worked for in poker.

But most of all, this has been keeping me busy, you can see what the fuss about is in April:

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Poker Marketing on a Budget

Date: Wed, Oct 10, 2012 Professional

On the flipside of getting asked a lot about how to get into poker writing, I also find myself being asked for advice from poker rooms, players, and businesses on how to promote their brand. Editorial and marketing have always been closely linked and I would say more than average in poker, what with affiliates playing such a big part in both and the community being so small.

I've also done a lot of marketing first hand:Occasionallyin my roles at PokerNews/PokerStrategy, for my own book and Jared Tendler's services, onoccasionsas favours to friends and on a paid consultancy basis. Usually I'm giving advice to people on a budget, since the big boys tend to have their own teams and outside consultants doing it.
This is generally what I say to people who ask me for help marketing something within poker:

Don't pay for advertising:If you are on a budget, I really think it is the kiss of death to pay for the bog-standard forms of advertising like print adverts or online banner ads. The human mind is now so used to seeing adverts on a minute to minute basis that it does a very good job of filtering adverts out unless they are really eye catching. This is not to say they do not work, simply that if the resources are tight then there are much more affordable and engaging ways to promote your brand.

2+2 Commercial Marketplace: One paid exception I would make for a lot of poker related products is the commercial marketplace on 2+2. This is because not only is 2+2 the biggest English speaking poker community in the world, it also let's you discuss your product on the forum. As you can imagine the moderators have to fend off a lot of spam and poker entrepreneurs who start threads about their product are likely get their posts taken down quickly.

While a commercial marketplace listing does not give you free reign to spam the rest of the forum, it does allow you to discuss it much more freely. The commercial marketplace is not in the most visited part of the forum, but if a discussion starts about your product elsewhere A) You are much less likely to have it removed and B) You can post in the thread saying "Hi, if you have any questions check out our thread in the commercial marketplace"

We have a commerical marketplace thread for The Mental Game of Poker and we think it has been worth every penny. The cost starts at $100 a month to $1,000 for a year.

$1,000 for a year really is a steal. It stays on there for a year, you can update and moderate it, and most importantly you can engage with potential customers on the biggest English forum in poker. Compare that to a print magazine ad where it will cost more than $1,000 for a single page advert, and there is no comparison.

Free content: I've mentioned I'm several other blog posts before but media budgets are not what they used to be. Magazines and websites are always on the lookout for free content and most will be happy to let you promote your product I'm exchange it (as long as it does not present a conflict of interest with an advertiser).

The content has to be genuine content and not just a straightforward advert. Therefore it should usually be on a related topic rather than a direct "buy this" call to action. For example in this Hendon Mob article, tournament organiser Mike Lacey promoted his recent six max event by writing a series of columns about organising poker events. The articles were about poker events in general and only made passing references to his own event until the final signoff.It is quite clear he had an event to promote but it is also quite clearly informative series of features which the readers will find interesting.

This is what we did with the Mental Game of Poker, we wrote a number of poker psychology articles and gave free excerpts to mags and websites in the early stages of the book. This was where our potential audience was already looking for this sort of content and in exchange for a hyperlink to our book, everyone involved was happy - we were happy with the exposure, the media sites and (hopefully) the audience were happy with the content.

The trick is to really ease off the spam. You have to first give the reader something they can appreciate on its own merit. That way they will like and trust you and hopefully want to find out more, and they will have the web address in front of them to do just that.

Guest on shows/podcasts: In much the same vain, there are tons of podcasts in poker trying to get guests to fill a show so just volunteer yourself to go on. Once again, don't just advertise your stuff and leave, talk about the issues of the day, be fun and informative, and as a courtesy the presenters will also ask you about your product. If you are ever in the London area, try and get on Sky Poker as a guest, as that is a huge opportunity and as long as you are fun and respectful of the very close community they nurture they have, it could be a win-win.

Press release: I have already written about putting together and planning a poker press release, so I'll direct you to that instead.

Plant a story: A funny thing I have observed about poker media sites (and I'm sure it's the same in other industries) is that sometimes they will ignore a press release, but run the story after someone else has done it first. Poker media sites look towards each other first before they look to information being offered to them. So if you are finding your press release has not gained momentum, the next step I would suggest is taking a personal approach and trying to get a contact at a poker media site to run the story as a favour, or get (or even set up) some poker blogs to run the story, or get some friends to post the a story about it on a popular poker forum.

It is probably because poker media sites are much more likely to trust their peers and the poker community than someone trying to sell something that this happens. Once a story is on a major like PokerNews, PokerStrategy, Bluff, 2+2, PocketFives or CardPlayer, it is much more likely to get picked up by the rest. Not only is this because of the added legitimacy given by the site, but also because there is now more of a sense that "the poker community is talking about this" and the sense of urgency grows.

Sponsorships: I've mentioned not paying for forms of advertising and the same largely goes for sponsoring people or things. I see no value in paying to put a patch on somebody, even if they make a major final table (In fact you may find if it is a televised final table they may have strict T&Cs meaning they have to remove the patch anyway). However, if you do have a budget and really want to, learn the lesson from the 2+2commercialmarketplace and sponsor something engaging.

Sponsor something where you know poker players congregate and wont just ignore your branding. Forums are a great example because this is where poker players meet up and engage with each other. They don't do it anymore but Blondepoker used to have people sponsor individual sub-forums and I think this was quite good value for the sponsors. It allowed them to talk directly with community members and also put them in a positive light as most poker forums are non-profit, meaning the sponsors were viewed as helping the forum stay alive.

If not forums then Podcasts could be a decent alternative, the blogs of very popular poker people or community based poker events. By this I don't mean sponsor a £1,000 buy-in tournament at the EPT, I mean sponsor a £30 'meetup' tournament at DTD for a popular poker community. Something where the people involved have something personally invested in the brand, rather than a standard big money tournament with no personal involvement whatsoever.

UPDATE 11/10 - PokerFuse Sponsored Posts: This was brought to my attention after I posted this blog initially, but I loved it so much I've updated my post. I have been one of the biggest cheerleaders for PokerFuse since they got going and it is for stuff like this. They have some space on their site which most people use for banner adds/affiliate links, but instead they have sponsored blog posts.

They allow an advertiser to put a featured post about their product on the homepage, and (depending on the package) change it as often as they want. This means they can share much more information than a traditional ad, it appears very much like a regular blog post so it is more likely people will look at it, and the fact that advertisers can change it regularly gives them a greater feeling of control and engagement. I mentioned at the top of this blog that we all are preconditioned to filter out advertisements and the fact I didn't notice these sooner possibly suggests I had still filtered them out, but either way it is still clearly a much more engaging way of advertising. I love the idea. The packages are also reasonably priced, and PokerFuse have such a great reputation in the industry (Because they proudly refuse to be an affiliate site) that aligning your brand with them will be well received.

Social media: I can't even begin to state the importance of social media, there is simply too much twitter advice out there for me to summarise here (There might be a blog or two coming however). You either need to get someone in your team to spend a lot of researching and becoming a social media expert for you brand, or pay someone to do it for you. Ideally the first one. Social media is both a marketing AND a customer service tool, and ideally the voice of your social media should be someone who represents the core values of your company rather than a paid outsider. But if you don't have time or can't get your head around it, make sure you hire someone who is both an expert in social media and an expert in poker, it needs to be a mix of both otherwise it will lookdisingenuous(Case in point, check out Phil Ivey's joke of a twitter feed, which is clearly ran by a social media expert with little knowledge of poker).

And forgodsake ask @kevmath for a retweet.

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Poker Media Tools of the Trade (What I use every day)

Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2012 Professional

Recently I have found myself explaining the benefits of a number of apps, software and hardware to other writers, so here they are for the world to see. I'm sure if I look back on this post in a couple of years time it will appear horribly out of date, but right now these are the tools I use as a poker news editor, most of which are on a daily basis.

A computer, a smartphone: LDO

Skype: This one also seems obvious but I know enough people who don't use it to mention it. Most poker players use Skype in some way or other and it is the perfect tool for interviewing people. Jared and I wrote our entire book over Skype so obviously I am a big fan.

Pamela for Skype: Speaking of interviews on Skype, this is the best Skype recording software I know of. The sound quality is almost exactly how it sounded at the time and it is good enough for prerecorded podcast interviews. It runs quite seamlessly in the background and when you start a new Skype call a small pop-up will ask you if you want this call recorded. There are loads of other features including video recording, but I only use it for audio interviews. The Professional version is well worth the £25 I paid for it (The free version only records up to 15 minutes)

>>>Get Pamela for Skype (I get money if you buy it)<<<

Recorder app: For in-person interviews, there are tons of good dictaphone apps for smartphones. The differences between each one are marginal, but make sure you get one which records for long periods as some have 15 min max durations - usually because they have a paid app with the longer record periods. Get one with good reviews and costs less than a quid or is free, I use one called iProRecorder for the iPhone which does the job fine.

With regards to the above two recording tools - it really is imperative that you record your interviews. Not only does it remove anyambiguity when you write them up, it also covers your back if the subject later claims to be misquoted.

Evernote: A free application which is really a must for anyone, not just writers. Evernote stores written documents on a cloud basis, meaning you can log into it anywhere (Someone else's PC, your phone, tablets, a web browser) and you will instantly have all your work at your finger tips. You can also store files, images, video files etc on it.

It is an incredibly useful tool for organising your work and your life in general. It is not as pretty as OneNote and it is not as fluid to write on as Word, but overall it is the best thing out there. I write all my drafts on Evernote and I can pick them up anywhere. Jared and I also write all our drafts for our upcoming book on a shared Evernote account. Which means when I have finished writing a section it is there waiting for him, and vice versa.

It doesn't look easy to use when you first start, but I insist you power through that first couple of days, because it is a life saver.

Tablet: This is quite specifically for those guys that report live for poker tournaments. I just cannot see how an iPad or equivalent is not the best way report in tournaments in real-time, especially a you can stand with it from the rail.

I haven't done live reporting in a long time, but when I did, you had to stand at the sidelines of a table with a pad and pen (I know, how 2007) and then run across a card room floor, usually up a flight of stairs and round two corners to the media room, to find someone is sat in your seat, you have to log back on to your PC and by then you have forgotten the hand and your notes make no sense.

Having a tablet to hand will surely eliminate all that, allow you update very quickly, and also means you will not miss any key action while you are legging it back to the media room.

Tweetdeck: Twitter is the first place for breaking news these days and this handy programme is a great way of filtering the information that comes through. I have bespoke lists for news sites, players, industry experts and even keywords (Like black friday, mental game of poker etc).

There are lots of tools for viewing Twitter out there, Hootsuite is another one which is great if you are sending a lot of tweets for example, but I find Tweetdeck is the easiest, prettiest and most robust version available for those of us who want to consume social media in anefficientway.

GingerIt: The spellcheckers that come with Word/Chrome etc are not that good for grammar, they generally just correct spelling. GingerIt is a free grammar checking tool that is good for finding the less obvious grammatical errors, repeated words etc. I have tried lots of different proofreading tools and none of them are perfect, they all miss the more subtle errors so they will never replace you doing the proof reading entirely, but the thing I like about GingerIt is that it sits in the background of your PC and you can set it to work by pressing F2 while you are in the document you need checking.

Clippings: If you find yourself regularly copying and pasting the same text or HTML code, clippings is a browser based way of saving lots of them so that they are available every time. I find this invaluable because working with web content I need to have a lot of complex HTML code to hand and this way I have it at the click of a mouse.

For example, at I have a signoff for my columns, which is my name, in Italics, which is linked to a profile page with examples of my previous work. It would be a pain in the arse to have to find that page, link to it, and put my name in italics every time, so with clippings I can just right click, and it is waiting there for me to press with two clicks.

You can get clippings installed with Chrome and Firefox.

Camera: I've actually put this mainly because people would ask why I hadn't put this if didn't. It's great if you can get yourself a badass SLR camera that also does HD film recording etc, and in some instances (If you specifically produce video for example) you might need it. But I find that that owning a great camera these days is not mandatory. The people who require good images (Live tournament updates and magazines for example) tend to have that covered and 9 times out of 10 a solid camera phone is usually fine for everything else. The one thing I would say is that always make sure your camera, be it phone or proper one, is set to the largest picture size setting, as that way it is easy for print magazines to use your images as they need very high resolution pictures.

Camtasia: This is another one that is not mandatory at all but I get guys asking me what it is. Ever wondered what software poker coaches use in training videos to film their desktop while they play? That's Camtasia. It is not cheap and I understand the Mac has a good free equivalent built in.
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Quoted in the Daily Mail Phil Ivey Story

Date: Mon, Oct 8, 2012 Professional

For those of you currently following the Phil Ivey/Crockfords' Casino story you may have noticed I get quoted in today's feature by the Daily Mail. I got a call yesterday from them while I was having Sunday lunch and they wanted an 'expert' to help them understand how Ivey could have possibly cheated at Punto Banco. It was a mix of vanity and boredom that led me to allow them to quote me and answer their questions.

You can read it here

After I did the interview I started to wish I hadn't, just because you hear horror stories of being misquoted, especially from the Daily Mail. It's not my favourite paper by any stretch of the imagination.For the recorded, they didn't misquote me at all, some of the words are out here and there, but the crux of what I said is there.
But even though they didn't misquote me, I have this weird inclination to back up what I said and didn't say. This is partially because I've had a couple of other mainstream media outlets asking me to speak about this story and I can see the potential for it to spiral a bit.

I started the interview by making sure they knew I knew very little about the game Punto Banco. My comments about probability, skill, edge etc were entirely in the context of house games vs poker, not specifically Punto Banco. Initially they rang me to see if Ivey could have in any way influenced the odds of a house game, which I told them he could not, based on what they reported about no evidence of tampering. I think initially they may have wanted to explore the possibility of him cheating more, but I quickly scuppered that.

The article did the usual thing of misinterpreting Ivey's results, as all mainstream media do with poker players, claiming he won £10 million in one tournament. Clearly I didn't say that as I know the Hendon Mob database very well.

I'd love to know where they got their information about Ivey taking the casino to court, because I didn't mention anything and at the time of the interview they seemed under the impression that he didn't have any legal recourse. I did, however, inform them about the 2005 gambling act which now states that gambling winnings are now enforceable. Makes me wonder if theyreceivedsome information about Iveypursuingthis in court, or if they just made that bit up (Cynical ain't I?).

I must say as much as I am not a fan of the Daily Mail, it was nice for them to actually defend a poker player. Most mainstream poker stories tend to paint poker in a negative light, but this time around it seems the casino was painted as the thing villain.

Later on today I got a few other requests to do interviews, including one with CNN, I turned them down. I can talk all day about poker and would have happily done it if it were more poker related, but as it really was a discussion about bricks and mortar casinos and the 2005 gambling act, I decided I was on a hiding to nothing if I did them. I know plenty about both subjects, but nowhere near the same level as I do poker.

I also didn't want to get overly linked with Phil Ivey, considering I don't even know him. I was worried I would come across as an Ivey fanboy, which I'm not (As this recent column I did on him shows), I just don't think he cheated.
Oh well, I think I got away with not looking like a berk, and I got a book plug in there too.

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Lessons in Poker Book Self Publishing: What I Would Have Done Differentely

Date: Tue, Sep 25, 2012 Professional

Jared and myself are now well under way with The Mental Game of Poker 2, the sequel to our wellreceivedfirst book. It may have a similar name, but it is completely new material and I think it has the potential to be better than the original.

The first book concentrated on mental game leaks - tilt, fear, motivation and confidence problems. This new book is all about playing your absolute best - the zone, A game, focus, learning etc.

The book was the most gratifying thing I've ever done and we have both been blown away by the reviews, the response, and the sales. As this blog is now very focussed on the poker media side of things, I thought I might look back in hindsight at what publishing mistakes we made and how we will do things differently this time around.

Amazon from the start
The biggest error we both made as fledgling authors was waiting a long time before we put the book on Amazon. We had our own standalone site with a shopping cart to take orders, and we both thought it would be a mistake to pay a cut to Amazon to do what we were doing ourselves.

This time the book will be on there from day 1. Amazon want you to succeed and they have so many in-builtalgorithmsto get your book out there to the right people, whether it is their top ten search listings or the "people who bought this also bought this" prompts, it really is the only place you really need to sell your book.

Amazon is to books what google is to every other business. It is where people wanting to buy books go, and you have to be there from day one.

Kindle from the start too
We really dragged our heels with Kindle for a number of reasons, but mainly because I (Not Jared, me) was scared to death of piracy. The reality is that digital sales are reinvigorating, rather than cannabalising, the book industry.

Yes we might get some people finding illegal copies of it, but we have found that figure is dwarfed by the number of people buying it who probably would never have done pre-kindle, especially as you can also buy it for iPads, mobile phones, and your PC too.

Our kindle sales outnumber softcover sales by about 2-1 at the moment, I only expect that gap to widen by the time we release the new book.

I alluded to this in my previous blog about the poker book industry. In the early stages we would get quite anxious about why our book wasn't seeing big spikes in sales when it would get mentioned on big poker sites. We assumed that a sheer mention on a site like PokerNews should = x sales.

What we found was that by putting some hard work in early, the book started to market itself later. Around 7 or 8 months in we saw a massive spike in sales which never decreased, all of which has to be put down to word of mouth.

This time we are hoping that because we have built up a ready made audience for the first book, we should expect to see some strong early sales, but if we don't we will not fret too much about it.

All books ready for shipping on day 1
We were in such a rush to get the books out last time wedidn'thave all our softcover books ready for the day people were supposed to get them (Not entirely our fault, as there was an error at the printers end). This led us to have to send a grovelling apology to many of them, which hurt double as they were the guys who took the time out to pre-order the book.

This time we have planned much farther ahead to make sure we have the book ready hopefully a full three months before our projected publication date. This is particularly important to me, as an avid book worm myself I know how quickly your enthusiasm for a book cane wane if you have to wait a long time for it.
Hire a good editor
We actually did hire an editor, but unfortunately the document seemed to have more errors after than before, so we had to get another who did a great job, but it really delayed things.
No matter how great you are at proof reading, I think it is near impossible to proof read an entire book you wrote yourself. You have too much involvement and your mind automatically fills in gaps and overlooks spelling mistakes because you are reading it on a different level to your audience.
One big criticism self published authors get is that they are poorly edited, and this is a mistake we wont make again.

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The Lederer Files from a Poker Media Perspective

Date: Sat, Sep 22, 2012 Professional

The PokerNews interview of Howard Lederer is understandably the only thing anyone is talking about right now. I don't think I can add anything of extra substance to the unraveling story of Full Tilt's demise, but the manner in which it was reported does fall under my niche.

PokerNews and interviewer Matt Parvis have come in for some criticism for how the interview was conducted. In particular some of the feedback includes not asking some important follow up questions, not asking questions such as why Howard Lederer did not return some of his own FTP distributions when the company needed them and generally letting Howard control the pace of the interview.

I think industry expert Bill Rini explains why this happened perfectly:

First off, I’ve mentioned Ray and the board being in over their heads so I should mention that Matthew Parvis is also in way over his head in this interview. I don’t mean that as an insult to Parvis but what this interview needed was someone who had more intimate knowledge of the people and the business.

There were just too many opportunities for him to ask follow up questions that he missed because he just didn’t know Howard was making a factually incorrect statement. For instance, as I mentioned in the previous comments on the interview, everyone in the industry did a spit-take when they heard Howard say that player money segregation was not something anybody was thinking about.

If you were in the business on the operator side or had a solid knowledge of how online poker rooms work, you would have really nailed him down on that.

In the end, it became just a fluff, PR piece for Howard and his allies. Howard outplayed Parvis and was able to avoid lines of questioning that would have forced him to admit wrongdoings.

There are so many moments where I’m shouting at the computer for Parvis to hit him with this or that fact or to force Lederer to address a logical inconsistency but it just flies right by with Parvis moving right on to the next question.

Like I said, I don’t blame Parvis per se. This is the biggest interview in the entire poker world. I don’t know if any current poker media journalist would have been better prepared for it. It’s a tough gig and you have to know going in that nobody is going to be 100% satisfied with what you end up getting out of Howard.

Would a 60 Minutes reporter be better prepared? I think so. A lot of investigative journalists would have had the money and resources to do all of the background checking before they sat down. But, our industry hasn’t matured to that point yet so Howard had a bit of an edge since he already knew what he was going to say and Parvis had to try and keep up. Howard had a year and a half to anticipate the most burning questions while Parvis had no idea what Howard’s responses would be.

Lederer is a smart guy. It was never going to be easy to pin him down.
I mean, what color would Howard have turned if Parvis had known Howard had intended on throwing Juanda, Perry, and Ivey under the bus and interviewed them first so he could counter Howard’s one-sided view of events?

What’s that one rule they teach to trial lawyers, “don’t ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.” That seems like a pretty good rule of thumb for journalists as well.

I'd like to expand on what Bill said here. Plenty was missing from the Lederer Files but I'm not sure many of Matt's peers could have done much a better job (Other than asking the distributions question, which I'll get to), I know I couldn't have. The poker media is too immature to do a job this big justice. Back when Matt and I started the only thing we reported on was "man wins poker tournament" and "wow look at that PartyPoker bonus". All of us were suddenly thrust into grown-up news reporting when Black Friday happened.

This is the first time a 60 minutes style interview has happened in poker. It was never going to please everyone. I'm glad PokerNews did not go too far down the other road of going in all guns blazing, calling Lederer a prick, and screaming at him asking for our money back. At least the way it was reported this way around allowed Lederer to be himself (Or at least the Lederer he wanted to portray).

Earlier this month I blogged about how poker media sites make money, and this is also a telling factor into how something like the Lederer Files was reported. There is no budget for investigative journalism and little opportunity to make much money from such a big exclusive. PokerNews probably made a loss on the interview as a whole, the traffic it brought in was unlikely to have compensated the expenses and man hours needed to produce it, so it was unlikely they had much time or resource to research ahead of time.

Back to the subject of missing out one of the most important questions; why didn't Howard give back some of his personal FTP distributions to help the site? I actually assumed that Howard had some editorial control over part of the interview and what was asked (In exchange for giving the interview in the first place). I was surprised to hear in a blog post just released by Matt Parvis that this was not the case, they had full control and it was just a sheer oversight by him.

If I had been charged with the task of interviewing Howard the first thing I would have done is give the job to someone else and helped out behind the scenes instead. Matt is one of the bosses at PokerNews, he doesn't actually produce the content day to day, and this is perhaps the reason why he should have delegated it elsewhere. But hats off to him for taking on the toughest job in poker journalism and no doubt protecting his own staff in the process.

I personally would have invited a real expert in this story to do this job, possibly bringing in a partner from outside the company. A Diamond Flush, a Noah SD, the guys at PokerFuse, or my PokerStrategy colleague Matt Kaufman. If that wasn't possible I would have at least crowd sourced my questions and research with industry experts outside of my company (which I am sure is what happened to some extent).

If Howard does do his proposed follow up interview with 2+2 we might get the interview we wanted (I have a feeling that won't happen, hope I'm wrong). Even though it was flawed we still got something from PokerNews here. We know a lot more about Howard and the FTP story than we did a week ago and other than the one key question (at least for me) that was missing, I'm not sure many of my peers would have done a significantly better job.
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Guest Post from Matthew Pitt: Do You Know Your SEO From Your Elbow?

Date: Thu, Sep 13, 2012 Professional

Matthew Pitt (With PokerNews buddies)
I must be doing something right, because I finally have a guest post on this blog (There is actually another one in the pipeline too). The man who took over from me at UK PokerNews, Matthew Pitt. He has had a lot of interesting writing gigs in poker, and he knows a boat load more about SEO than I do.

You can learn more about Matthew Pitt at his blog. (Did I link to it correctly? SEO donk here).

Thanks to Matt, and here he is:

As someone who has worked in the poker industry for several years now I thought it would be a good idea to write a guest post for Barry Carter that fits in with his series on poker media industry articles.

Barry recently wrote an article entitled “How Do Poker MediaWebsites Make Money?” and within this article he mentioned terms such as pay-per-click and touched on the subject that a writer's employer may not care much for the quality of the content a writer produces because he is looking purely at how many customers click a specific link within the content provided. One way you can help your articles become more useful to your employer is to employ some basic SEO, that is Search Engine Optimisation, to your content.

The first thing you need to realise is that, in the poker industry especially, Google rules the world. Forget all the rubbish Bing and other search engines try to push on you about them being the best search engine or the most accurate etc Google is the daddy, the head honcho. You are at the mercy of Google and its unknown search algorithms. You are Google's bitch. You no longer search for something on the internet, you Google it; so does your mum and possibly your gran. Google makes the world spin around and being ranked number 1 in Google for a specific term is like holding the Holy Grail in your hands. Think about it. How often do you Google something and simply click the first answer without even looking or thinking about it? Exactly.

The way Google works is down to a number of secret algorithms that work in unison to create an extremely powerful search engine. Regardless if you think it is the best, the most accurate, the fastest or whatever, Google is the industry standard search engine. Although these algorithms are top secret, there are a few assumptions you can make about how Google works and how it ranks content it finds on the world wide web.

  • Google loves new, fresh content
  • Google knows how to read bold and italicised text.
  • Google likes it when content links to other highly ranked content
  • Google is happy when your article has some relevant keywords naturally occurring in your content
  • Google smiles when your headline is related to your content
  • Google gets mad when you blatantly copy other articles
  • Google starts to cry when you link to poor ranking content
  • Google does not like you trying to force readers to click links
  • Google gets royally pissed off when you try to force keywords down readers throats
There are scores of others but those mentioned above are probably the most common and the ones you have the most control over. As you can see Google is almost like a living, breathing entity that adapts and evolves to bring what it determines is the best content for a person to read, watch etc. It is up to you (and your editor) to keep Google happy.

One of my first jobs in the poker media was to provide copy based on keywords. For months on end I used to churn out articles for some major sites based on keywords I had been given. For example, I would be asked to write a 400-word article about anything I wished as long as it mentioned “poker bankroll management” at least five times somewhere within those 400 words. Sometimes the keywords were perfectly reasonable but then they started to become a little obscure. I distinctly remember having to write a 400-word article that said “poker play online free” at least eight times. You try and fit that non-English rubbish into an article once never mind eight times. I bet Google hated those articles!

After writing between 500-750 of these I now automatically think of keywords whenever I am writing articles, whether the articles are news related or promotional material. A large percentage of the articles I write are poker-related and I know dozens of keywords and phrases that people use to search for other poker related material. In recent weeks I have described someone being dealt pocket aces as “Player A was dealt the best starting hand in Hold'em, pocket aces, and three-bet all-in” or something similar. That small sentence will rank in Google for terms such as:

· What is the best starting hand in Hold'em?
· Are aces the best Hold'em hand?
· How to play pocket aces
· How often will you get dealt pocket aces?
· What is a three-bet?

Those five bullet points are all valid questions Joe Bloggs could type into Google and find my article with. Hopefully he will then read the rest of it, click a link to an online poker site and keep my bosses happy!

Emphasising your text by making it bold is another way to ensure Google picks up your content. At PokerNews I always write a player's full name in bold in news articles and keywords in bold in promotional articles. For example, “Get involved in this value-added promotion where we have six freerolls each with a $5,000 prize pool.” Google will read the bold text, think it is important and if someone searches for keywords such as “value-added freeroll” or “freerolls with large prize pools” guess which article it is going to bring up or at least consider bringing up for searchers.

By now you have probably cottoned on that SEO is mainly common sense and that continues when you want to link to other content. When you link to a specific article, particularly one that is not hosted on your site, Google goes all warm and fuzzy inside because you are essentially vouching for that site and spreading the love. If that site has linked to other “good” sites and they are themselves linked to then Google gives you some extra points (in secret of course) and ranks you higher. This is why I get frustrated when sites copy my work or use it to create articles of their own and do not credit me. I have written articles in the past that were exclusive to me yet they have ended up on a rival site a few hours later and complete with spelling mistakes! Had they copied it and said, “according to UK PokerNews” with a link to the original article Google would have been over the moon and given them a hug. Instead Google will have marked them down for being plagiarisers and possibly future articles they write by themselves will be marked down too. I give credit all of the time whenever I use a site such as Blonde Poker or the PokerStars Blog for tournament reports and live updates. Give credit where it is due.

Last but not least, and following in the same link-related vein, is linking to content naturally. Whenever you link to something you want downloading, reading etc you have to try and make Google you are just suggesting your reader should click. Terms with links in such as “click here” or “read more here” do not impress Google because you are essentially forcing your readers to click a link. What if they didn't want to click a link and they just wanted to carry on reading your article? You are now dictating to your reader what they have to do. Not good.

Imagine you are writing an article about Jake Cody going deep in yet another tournament and whilst talking about him you happy to mention he is a Triple Crown winner. “Jake Cody, one of only four Triple Crown winners, has once against gone deep in a European Poker Tour event.” I happen to know that I wrote an article when Cody completed his Triple Crown so I can link to that article by using the keywords “Triple Crown.” This merely suggests to the reader that if they click that link on the words “Triple Crown” they are going to be directed to another article about the said Triple Crown. Doing so makes Google so happy that it does a little dance. You should see what Google does if you provide a natural link on a certain keyword that has bold text; I think when this happens a fairy gets its wings.

The ins and outs of SEO can be quite complicated and much of SEO is theory. Nobody knows the algorithms Google uses so it is all trial and error but by following the hints and tips above you should be able to keep Google happy for the time being and if Google is happy with you then your boss usually is too.

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How Do Poker Media Websites Make Money?

Date: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 Professional

How a poker media website gets paid, just like any blog or news site, has a direct impact on the content they produce. If you are looking to get into poker writing, you need to know how your potential employers are paying the bills and create your content to fit that model.

I know a lot of great writers, much better ones than I could hope to be, who were unable to make a go of poker writing because they didn't understand this simple fact. Often the thing they don’t understand is how what they write could upset a potential advertiser; which is unfortunately the biggest tightrope walk we face in this industry.

I learned the hard way how important understanding the advertiser is in poker. When the Absolute Poker scandal first materialised I proudly was one of the first people to get the story onto a news site, reporting on it when I was a staff writer for PokerNews. Because I hadn't been paying attention to the site I worked for, I didn't notice that Absolute Poker were, at the time, one of our biggest affiliate partners. The management team were not happy with me, they pulled the article, and I almost got fired.

Luckily for me the story got huge pretty quickly anyway, PokerNews dropped Absolute Poker from their affiliate partners soon after and republished my original article quite quickly. I think all that was enough for me to keep my job, but an important lesson was learned.

Now a lot of people might say that I was right and the management team at PokerNews (It was a completely different management team to the one in place at the moment btw) was wrong. But in hindsight I would side with PokerNews on this one - don't bite the hand that feeds. People who cry about journalistic integrity are the exact people I mentioned before do not make it very far in this industry. I too strive to to write honest unbiased work, but I also appreciate that without advertisers, none of these sites, and jobs, would exist.

That doesn't mean that everything you read is bullshit on these sites, far from it. There has been a significant move towards transparency in the poker media, particularly after Black Friday. But you need to understand how these sites make money if you want to work for them. Likewise if you are just a reader of these sites, I hope the following will help you understand why certain things are reported on and others are omitted from front pages:

Pay per click/pay per impression- Websites which are paid by the number of page views they receive are a staple part of the online news industry. They tend to get paid a small amount by advertisers for every user that clicks a link, or for every thousand page views.

I mention this advertising model first, because this is precisely what 99% of poker sites DON'T rely on, but many people assume they do. As a result, this has a profound effect on the content.

Blogs that rely on page views are much more sensationalist and prolific. It is in their interest to be the first to break news, expose scandals, and produce a lot of new content every day. Even the biggest news blogs only get something like $4-$12 per 1000 page views. So as you can imagine, they need big controversial stories every day to get millions of hits in order to make it worth their while and employ staff.

This model is good in one sense, because scandals would not get swept under the carpet. It is very bad in another sense because it encourages sloppy work, that is rushed out quickly, not fact checked, and sometimes is straight up lies. If poker went this way, even more cheating scandals would be exposed, but we would also see some really slimy gutter reporting, personal attacks, and unsubstantiated rumours being presented as facts.

The poker market is simply not big enough to attract the type of page views needed to make good money, which is why most poker sites rely on the affiliate model.

Affiliates -The poker media is built on the poker affiliate model. All the big media sites you see today have got where they are from poker players signing up to online poker rooms via their affiliate links. They usually get either a one off fee for each new player who signs up, which is called a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), or a regular percentage of the rake they pay to that poker room called MGR (Monthly Gross Revenue). CPAs are much rarer these days, although PokerStars exclusively still do it this way. Most of the big poker media websites have hybrids of both models.

The nature of the commission model may give a slight insight into what to expect from the content. In that those on primarily MGR models are more likely to have content that retains readers - so community based stuff, forums, interactive content etc, as well as regular strategy content and other stuff designed at keeping players at the table. With CPAs it is slightly more about attracting a reader and converting them; so possibly more of a standard news blog model could be expected.

Because sign ups, instead of page views, are the fundamental criteria for making money, the nature of the news reporting changes. You don't need to be as attention grabbing or prolific, but you do need to be constantly directing readers back to your download pages. So although you don't have to worry about printing garbage to rely on hits to your website, you do run the risk of being too spammy with the content you do produce.

This causes two potential problems for a poker writer. First of all, no matter how good the content you write is, your employer might be looking at it in ROI terms, rather than how well written it is. Most poker content like tournament reports, strategy articles and interviews are in theory non profit exercises for the site. In the long term, this of course not true, it is the quality content which gets people on your site in the first place and coming back for more. But you will often find yourself in conflict with the affiliate part of the site over what content is important. Likewise, a lot of poker content, although presented as genuine news, is actually glorified ad copy for your partners.

The other big problems for poker writers with the affiliate model is exactly what I described with my Absolute Poker story, and that's you have to walk a tightrope of producing good content while also keeping an affiliate partner happy. Writing a story that puts an online partner or one of their sponsored players in a bad light is a big no no. Another problem can come in the form of writing about a poker room which isn’t one of your affiliate partners, positive or not, because it can essentially give them free advertising. The same goes for linking to a direct business rival, ie. another affiliate site.

These days the biggest sites are less biased as I might make it sound, I am simply outlining what some of the barriers can be. Today there is a much better culture of covering the important stories no matter what potential conflicts could arise, as well as giving proper citations to potential rivals, among the biggest sites.

There are some other variations of the standard affiliate model worthy of a mention:

Super affiliate -Some poker media sites choose to advertise one poker room rather than a selection. This is usually because they have an enhanced deal with that room, and an agreement to provide some exclusive content. Usually the media site will have an exclusive bonus, freeroll, or other promotion that will encourage players to sign up, as well as an increased commission; both of which is enough to justify them not advertising other partners.

Super affiliate deals usually involve some heavy restrictions on what content the site can produce, and even involves the poker room having some editorial control over the content. As you can imagine, this leads to some heavy biases in the reporting. A PartyPoker super affiliate is obviously not going to be allowed to cover PokerStars news, and might even restrict coverage of the something like the EPT (as Party have the WPT) and vice versa.

In many cases, some big affiliates have a hybrid of a super affiliate deal, in that they can still advertise other rooms, but give priority and editorial exclusives to one major partner room.

Rakeback sites- Rakeback sites understandably operate on an MGR basis, since they give most of what they receive straight back to their players. The only reason I mention them at all is to point out that the nature of these sites means that their profit margins are very small, and as such, you rarely ever see a massive editorial presence on them.

Sub affiliates -Some poker affiliates are so big that they actually give smaller websites the opportunity to advertise their poker rooms for a split of the profits. Although this means smaller profits for the lesser site, it can work out better sometimes because it means they can offer some of the same exclusive promotions, bonuses, and freerolls that the bigger affiliate can boast. PokerStrategy actually have a superb sub affiliate programme btw.

Non poker room options- There are of course other potential ways to get affiliate revenue from poker other than by signing up to a room. Books and software like Hold'em Manager being probably the main two. I doubt anyone makes significant revenues from these because they would take a lot of volume to do so. Online poker room CPAs can be several hundred dollars each and, if you get lucky with the player, a single MGR could land you thousands a month. So poker room affiliates are the bread and butter of the poker media and the other potential affiliate options are just supplements to their revenue.

Paid advertisements- It is still not uncommon for some advertisers to simply pay to have banners and other advertisements on the site for just an upfront fee. This will often happen when the advertiser has no affiliate plan in place, ie. things like live poker events, live casinos etc. You will also see certain aspects of the website get unique sponsors, for example some podcasts have seperate sponsors, as do some live tournament reporting ventures, forums etc.

Editorial placement- Now on to stuff that perhaps isn't as obvious. Since most of us have in-built mechanisms to mentally filter out adverts these days, media and advertisers get together creatively to make adverts more widely seen. Instead of posting a banner somewhere, they will actually place an article that appears to be genuine news on the site, which is in fact a sponsored post. In some instances these will be highlighted as such, being called "sponsored posts" or some such, but most of the time they are not, and essentially disguised as real news.

Now, more often than not, you don't need a particularly sophisticated spam radar to recognise which ones are the "advertorial" pieces. Usually editorial placement is for a one off fee, or part of an enhanced media package/affiliate deal agreed with the website.

Poker room blogs- A lot of the poker media we see today are actually blogs created and run by a poker room, so their revenue comes directly from getting the readers back onto their site. PokerStars and PartyPoker both come to mind as having pretty good content (Especially live tournament related content), and of course Sky Poker have a fully fledged TV channel to support their room.I would advise any fledgling poker writers to keep an eye out on poker room blogs, as they are fast becoming a great new place to find work.

Training Sites- One of the more recognisablecommercialventures in poker is the training site. A lot of media sites are now producing paid subscription training content, and likewise, a lot of training sites are now producing their own editorial.

B2B Services- Established poker media sites tend to have their fingers in a lot of pies, and as such, they now tend to offer a lot of Business to Business type services. It is becoming more common, for example, for them to outsource staff for things like editorial, live reporting, video production to other poker organisations.

It is also very common for them to have their own wing specalising in PR services, which can involve press releases, social media, consulting, and utilising their vast reader databases for email marketing. Most of the time, they can offer a bespoke PR package which can involve lots of the things I have mentioned in these blogs for one up front fee.

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The State of the Poker Book Industry

Date: Mon, Sep 3, 2012 Professional

I recently heard my friend and poker hero Tony "Tikay" Kendall (For those that know us both, that is not a piss take, he genuinely is someone I look up to) is planning to write a book. I have no idea whether it will be poker related, but I for one will be buying it.
The whole thing got me thinking that for all the poker media advice I have been writing on this blog, the one thing I haven't really discussed is poker books.

I have written a poker book, in case I haven't spammed it enough already, I am the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker with Jared Tendler. It was one of the hardest, but most enjoyable and gratifying things I have ever done. I'm delighted to say it has been both a critical and commercial success for us, and we have just started part 2 (It was always going to be a 2 parter).

In the two or so years between starting the book and now, we have learned a tremendous amount about the poker book industry, a lot of which was as a result of throwing ourselves in the deep end and making mistakes. The following is pretty much what we have learned so far about the poker book market:

Strategy strategy strategy
Most poker books that are sold are understandably strategy books. There isn't a massive demand for anything else unfortunately. Generally speaking, poker players are not a target market I class as great readers of books outside of this genre, I have probably let years of seeing them type "TLDR" in forum posts skew my image of them in this regard.

There are of course some exceptions to the rule. Anthony Holden's "Big Deal" and Michael Craig's "The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King" are two very enjoyable non-strategy titles which have enjoyed, as I understand it, good sales figures.There are some good biographies out there, but generally they have never been big sellers. I'd expect a Negreanu, a Hellmuth, or an Ivey biography would sell well, but beyond that I think the life stories would have to be fascinating to be a big success.

To get reasonable sales figures, I think a non-strategy title would need to have a mainstream appeal outside of poker. A Full Tilt, Black Friday, or an UltimateBet Superuser book all spring to mind. I think there is also the slight potential that some 'Funny gambling stories' books could be a profitable subject matter (I myself have started, and stopped, writing 'poker's greatest prop bets' several times).

Back to strategy. It is a very tough market. Despite being the only thing poker players really buy, it is tremendously competitive, samey, and quickly goes out of date.

Traditional no limit strategy becomes dated very quickly, and books are in competition with forums, training sites, and coaching, as well as with other books.

Having read tons of no limit books, it is very hard to filter out the nuggets of difference between each title or find anything truly unique. It is particularly frustrating when poker books trawl through the same old 'hand rankings/explaining position' standard stuff we have read a thousand times already.

For a no limit book to stand a chance to be lucrative, it has to be vastly different, or more likely, has to be penned by a mega star of the game. And when I say mega star, I mean like Sam Trickett, Phil Ivey, Isaac Haxton, Jungleman, Isildur1 - someone who is either a household name or at least universally respected by their peers. There are so many good players out there these days that 99% of the good pro players would struggle to sell a book.

Differentiating from no limit
For any other poker strategy book to sell well, it has to deviate from the norm. This is an area where I got very lucky hooking up with Jared Tendler - a mental game expert who essentially teaches something nobody else does in the game. I simply would not have got involved if it was instead just some guy who was crushing no limit hold'em, because even if it turned out to be a great book, it has a limited shelf life and lots of competition. Jared's work has no competition and (hopefully) is the sort of thing that could sell for years no matter how the game changes.

So what else could sell in the crowded strategy market? I think we are due a good mixed games book for the modern era, and stud, 2-7 draw etc all could have a shot at selling well. One thing I think has been vastly overlooked so far is a strategy book for winning poker satellites. PLO still could sell, but that's getting competitive too. There is probably a decent short-stacker book waiting to be written, but there is plenty of information out there online for that.

Then you have some really left of field titles that zero in on one aspect of poker skill. Books like Dusty Schmidt's Treat Your Poker Like a Business, which is more of a self management book than a strategy book, and of course the titles on physical tells and poker maths. I think there is possibly a (small) book out there on game selection waiting to be written.

Making money from poker books
I've mentioned getting good sales figures, but what constitutes 'good'? The following figures I have got from some fellow authors and publishers in the poker industry. As I understand it, a good lifetime figure for a typical poker book (And by that I usually mean strategy book) is about 10,000 sales. That was at the height of the poker boom. 20,000 is considered exceptional. The average book in any industry or niche only expects to make $500 in sales these days, so if you think those figures are small, think again.

There are some books that comfortably surpass the 100,000 sales mark, but these are usually the real classics; SuperSystem, the Harrington books, the Theory of Poker, Gus Hansen's book, and probably a few other twoplustwo titles. The above titles are still selling very strong today despite being relatively old in the market (You can tell by looking at their sales rank on Amazon) so for the truly exceptional titles, they can prove a great long term winner.

But most poker titles won't continue to sell after a few years, because they date so quickly. One way around this is pricing. Poker is one of the few niches where you can charge over $1,000 for a single book and people will buy it. You can still buy Tri Nguyen and Cole South's "Let There Be Range" for $1,500+ on Amazon. This is because bridging a knowledge gap in poker is perceived to be much more immediately damaging to the author than in other industries. Selling such a book for such a low price, it could be argued, could have an immediate negative impact on the authors earn rate if the wisdom within it is so good it could turn the readers into the new Isildur1.

In reality, pricing the book so high is really a short term strategy designed to make a quick buck (No pun intended). It is actually more of an insurance strategy against the content getting outdated than it is a way of keeping the knowledge within a select few. When you price your book that high, you are basically asking for people to pirate it. All you are hoping for is that 30, 50, or 100 people buy it before every poker player has it emailed to them. Ironically setting a price so high probably guarantees more people see it than they would have otherwise. To stand a chance of getting a large number of people buy your $100+ book, you have to be truly crushing the game (Cole South was at the time) and these days only a handful of players can claim that.

Self publishing
But what about those of us who are not crushing the game, and essentially just want to write a book? Well first of all, I'd hope seeing the above has shown you there is some merit in offering to ghost write a book for a big name who wouldn't have the time or inclination to do it themselves. Secondly, I would suggest that you almost certainly should self publish your book.

Although the potential to write a poker best seller is not great these days, we are living in a wonderful era for self published authors. Getting your book on kindle takes a few minutes, and you now have so many print-on-demand options that getting soft cover copies of it is also very cost efficient. The biggest thing that publishers can offer these days are exposure and potentially a cash advance.
The advances I expect would be very small in poker, if they even exist at all any more, and after that you would likely only get something like 10-15% royalties AFTER your advance has been recouped in royalties. This is fine if you have no way of marketing your book on your own, but the poker world is exceptionally small, and if your book is good, people will hear about it.

Build a ‘tribe’
There is a little maxim here which suggests you only need 500 people to love your book in order to make it a success. After that, word of mouth will sell it for you. This is what Jared and I have discovered with our book. We marketed very hard between the book launch on April 15 2011 (Yes, we released the book on Black Friday, sigh) and the end of the year for the Christmas rush, then we put the brakes on. Our biggest month at the time was Christmas, as you would expect, but after that we expected a drop in sales, because we had stopped actively marketing it.

But the strangest thing happened, January 2012's sales were almost as big as Decembers. February's sales were big too, and March, and so on. In fact June this year was our biggest month ever and it has seen no sign of slowing down. As soon as we stopped marketing our book aggressively, our sales have been at least 50% higher than every non-Christmas month in 2011 where we worked our asses off marketing it, and in some cases it has been 100-200% higher.

We still do the odd bit of marketing here and there when a good opportunity comes up, but the reason the sales have been high since we stopped is because enough people have the book now to be talking about it. Every week I get people asking me questions or telling me what they think of the book on forums or on twitter, and on the occasions where I myself will tweet something about the book, I can always expect a reasonable amount of retweets from fans of the book. In fact, there have been a handful of people who loved the book so much that I feel we owe them a commission for promoting it for us for free. We are lucky also that quite a few influential figures in poker like the book, so when they do retweet or otherwise complement the book, they do so to a large audience.

Word of mouth is genuinely the most powerful form of marketing in the world today, now that everyone has a twitter, Facebook, and poker forum account. For that reason, I would advocate all poker authors self publish their books and just concentrate on building up a small following, and giving that following the chance to talk about your work. I think one of the best things we did was engage with everyone our audience on twitter and Facebook and develop relationships with the people who really liked the book. The poker forums are also golden, possibly better than social media, and I think we owe a lot to the likes of Blondepoker, the PokerStrategy forum and 2+2 (The only paid advertising I would advocate is the latter's commercial marketplace).

Beyond that, another easy way to market your book is by offering free content and excerpts of the book to blogs, websites, and magazines. As I have mentioned in several previous blog posts, poker editors are always on the lookout for free content and will happily let you promote your book as part of a free, non-spammy, offering. It is much more effective than having a paid advertisement ever will, because not only do most of us filter out adverts when we see them, but it also gives your target audience a great sneak peak of what they can expect, with a direct call to action for where they can go to get more.

Business cards
Even if the book doesn't sell well, there is another advantage to writing one, and that is it serves as a great business card. Interest in Jared's private coaching skyrocketed as has his personal brand in the industry. He is a very well known and reputable name in poker as a direct result of the book. I myself have seen lots of doors open because of the book, I seem to get invited to more fun things, and my twitter following has increased significantly.

So if you are thinking of writing a really niche poker book but worried it might be too niche, this is a reason to do it. If you know a lot about poker affiliate marketing but fear the audience is low, having a book on the subject might secure you a new job or consultancy work. If you are an expert in badugi, writing the book on the game might secure you some coaching work. I myself have been toying with writing a small book on the poker media industry, which I doubt would sell more than a 100 copies lifetime, but it would look great on my CV.

It sounds clichéd, but just the achievement of having a book out there is worth doing it for. It may be tough to get a best seller in this increasingly competitive market, but it is so easy to self publish these days that it shouldn't really cost you much more than your time.

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The State Of Print Magazines In Poker

Date: Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Professional

This week a thread was posted on 2+2 where a writer was outing WPT Poker Magazine for not having paid him for 7 months. It now looks like he is (hopefully) going to be paid as a direct result of him doing this.

I can see why a lot of people would think that 7 months was a scandalous amount of time to be paid, but I spoke to several of my fellow poker writer peers, and well all shrugged our shoulders and said “meh, pretty standard, I wouldn’t worry at 7 months”.

7 months was a long time to wait, but not as long as you would think. Most poker magazines have a policy of not paying until 3 months after the article is printed, and often it takes about 2 months between submitting the article and before it is printed. So even though I think 7 months is long, I wouldn’t even be chasing for the first 5.

I used to solely rely on magazines for my income. It once was a gold mine, but over the years I have watched that part of the industry change dramatically. I'm glad I got out of magazines, unfortunately I have done so with three magazines still owing me money to this day (Only one still exists).

I should also say that I have a great relationship with the guys at WPT, and I am quite confident that the guy will get paid. The following is not really a comment on WPT magazine, but most poker magazines I have dealt with(other than the B2B magazines).

There were some comments in the thread about the wait time was indicative of the magazine being close to bankruptcy. I don't agree with that, but I do confer that many of them live on the breadline. Lots of them literally rely on the same advertising revenue from issue x to pay for the freelance contributions for issue x, with no spare budget waiting around for situations like this.

This is not all magazines of course, for example I wouldn't expect this to be the case at PokerPlayer Magazine, because they are part of a larger publishing network, Dennis Publishing. But most of them are part of much smaller publishers, in some cases standalone ones.

It wasn't always this hard for poker magazines, there was once a time, right after the boom, where they had money to burn, and paid ridiculous amounts (I’ve never been paid better for a single article than I was the first year I started writing them). But the UIGEA hit the advertising budgets hard, and more recently, Black Friday did the same. Even non-US magazines felt the impact as hard, despite not being directly affected.

While the freelancers are being delayed by the magazines, the magazines are being delayed by the advertisers. This doesn't make it ok for the magazines to string the freelancers along in the meantime, but it is important to know they are part of a long an arduous chain, and often get screwed out of money themselves (Sadly, advertisers not paying is a frequent occurrence in poker).

This may seem odd to many, that poker magazines are so dependent on advertising revenue. The fact is that most of the time, poker magazines don't rely on sales, or at least, they only make up a small part of their revenue which is deemed a bit of a bonus at best. In fact, many advertising packages are based on the presumption that the issues will be distributed for free in casinos, guaranteeing lots of gamblers will see them.

To give an extreme example of this, I did some work for GX magazine, who never paid me. It turned out that they weren't a real magazine at all, they just printed a few hundred copies of their pretend magazine to show advertisers, so they could hoard in the ad revenue without worrying about the printing costs. Check out this blog from Nick Pryce, someone who worked for them, to learn more about them.

The last frustrating part of the process with poker magazines is that the editor is not the boss, not in the traditional sense at least. Most freelancers expect the buck to stop with him, but in reality they often are pretty powerless when it comes to payroll. Editors are often in an impossible situation here, where they have to take the flak when people don't get paid, but can't do anything to influence it.

They only thing they can, and should do, is create realistic expectations with freelancers from the start.

Times are tough for print magazines in general, and even harder for poker magazines. Most of the best content these days, or at least the most up to date, is available online and advertising revenue is getting tighter by the day.

Most magazines these days rely on free contributions from people with something to promote. Strategy articles from sponsored players, news articles branded with the logos of a news site, tournament reports provided by the people organising the tournament. The few bits and bobs I have done for magazines in the last year or so has been to promote my book more than anything.

Anyone looking to freelance for magazines these days, in my opinion, should be very aware of this. There is still a future for print magazines in poker, but it will be on shoestring budgets. There are still people out there that will pay you to write for poker magazines, but it is not necessarily the guys that publish them.

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