It’s been a rough time for poker affiliates, ever since Black Friday. Hell, even before then things were rough – there wasn’t a lot of growth or optimism within the industry, at least not compared to the years prior to the UIEGA.
Since Black Friday however, being a poker affiliate has really sucked. One disaster after another at the major rooms. Even the rooms that aren’t affected are still struggling to capture the old playerbase, as most poker players are simply avoiding playing poker online altogether.
As a competition, the online poker battle is generally over. Pokerstars are far and beyond the top poker room in terms of traffic, with an average of 22,800. Party Poker and the iPoker network are the next contenders with an average of 3000 each, then the rest of the pack is falling way behind. (Numbers all thanks to PokerScout.com).
Overall, the online poker world has just been BORING ever since Black Friday. Any news that does come out is generally negative. Instead of looking at the “next hot poker room”, we’re instead waking up to news of new domains being seized. Instead of forum posts talking about all the fish at a poker room, the threads instead consist of comparing how long it took to get a withdrawal.
That’s why I can’t help but be excited for the changes that are taking place in June, 2012. For those unaware, Lock Poker have left the Merge Network. They have PURCHASED the Cake Network, and renamed it the Revolution Network.
And this really IS a potential game-changer.
Oh sure – not on a large scale. We’re not going to see the Revolution Network become the #1 network overnight or anything like that. But from the sounds of things, Lock Poker are becoming quite a big player in the industry – particularly for US Poker Players.
These type of events are what breathe new life into the poker affiliate game. Suddenly you have all these poker players hearing about it, and Lock Poker have a good reputation with conversion and retention.
Of course, for the Revolution Network to succeed, they need to focus more on the best possible partners. A name change and a new skin moving over just isn’t enough to cut it these days.
A lot of people were surprised that when Full Tilt, Pokerstars and Cereus all pulled out of the US market, the Cake Network didn’t capitalize on that. The main problem with Cake, was the partners that they brought in to the Cake Network. For every potential major player like Doyles Room and Victory Poker, they had a huge amount of other skins that had absolutely no idea what they were doing.
I’m one of Cake Pokers biggest affiliates. At least once per week, a new Cake skin would e-mail me, and the correspondence would always be the same:
Random AM: “Hi, we were referred to you by Cake as you’re one of their biggest affiliates. We want you to promote us.”
That was their grand plan. Instead of focusing on new players or new affiliates that didn’t promote Cake, they instead went after Cakes biggest affiliates, and basically said to them “Promote us instead of Cake”. So unfortunately, the skins weren’t bringing anything new to the table at all – they were just trying to effectively steal players from the major site on their own network.
This wouldn’t be so bad if they actually had something to offer. But they never did! They offered the same, or worse than Cake Poker offered, and never brought anything new to the table.
For Lock Poker and the Revolution Network to succeed, they really need to pull out all the stops. They need to get big partners in. They need to convince online sportsbooks to not just sign up with them, but actively promote them. They need to allow the network skins to have freedom in regards to promotions, and help them with retention and conversion. I wouldn’t say iPoker is a huge success story or anything – but at least if you look at the different skins on there – each one gives off a much different vibe to it.
What’s also interesting is how this affects Merge – the Merge Network canceled rakeback for new players on June 1st of last year. They have immediately reinstated rakeback as of June 1st. Whether or not this is just a pro-active move or if they are actually deeply concerned about Lock Poker and the Revolution Network I don’t know.
It’s going to be interesting over the coming months to see what Revolution and Merge do. While they are really fighting over a small playerbase, competition always brings out the best in companies – and competition is something that has been lacking in the industry.
While on a grand scale it really doesn’t mean too much, as a poker affiliate I can’t help but be slightly excited by the potential battle. And one of the best things about being a poker affiliate? No matter who wins – we win.
Well, as long as it doesn’t break out into a triple threat match with the Department of Justice, that is.