The gambling affiliate industry lost one of its pioneers this weekend with the passing of Roger Shriver.
If you knew Roger, you knew what an awesome guy he was. He was incredibly down to earth and just one of the nicest peoples in the industry I’ve ever met. Anyone he has ever dealt with will tell you that. He was just so laid back and relaxed.
No joke – I know people who have worked for him who told me in the past “Working for Roger is such a breeze that I’d do it for free”. He was just such a joy to work for as he was so casual about everything and people actually LIKED working for him – something which is rare and says a lot about what a great person he was.
Over the last few years I haven’t communicated with Roger much – pretty much just once a year or so when we needed something work related with each other. And it wasn’t like we were best friends or anything even at the height of our relationship – just two dudes who worked in the same industry and had been around from its infancy and would occasionally chat. Yet I find myself extremely upset over his death. Not at losing a friend – but at the world losing such a great person.
I have fond memories of Roger from affiliate conferences in Europe and affiliate meet-ups. One particular memory I can’t stop thinking about – a few of us went up to watch a UFC PPV in Montreal and attend a Betting Partners dinner. There was a few affiliates there and before the show we hit up an Irish pub for drinks and to chat for a few hours.
I remember that day because Roger was very, very quiet. Often when someone is quiet within a group of people it can make things awkward – but that wasn’t the case here. Instead it was heartwarming – just picturing him sitting there content to listen to everyone else with a smile on his face.
I dunno – I’m having a hard time processing this – but that’s the one memory I’ll always have of Roger. Just him sitting there completely content and looking happy and satisfied.
You’ll be missed Roger.
I’m going to repost an old interview below that I conducted with Roger back in 2010 because I was looking at it yesterday and it was nice hearing his voice in my head:
Welcome to the latest edition of 10 Questions With… where we talk to someone in the gambling industry, discuss the hot topics, and see what advice they have for all new and existing affiliates.
In this edition we sit down with Roger. If you’ve ever spent any time on poker affiliate forums, you’ll know of Roger or his previous screenname hoursurfing.
Roger has been an affiliate since 2005.
He’s seen it all and he’s did it all.
And he has the Ferrari to prove it!
Roger is one of the best and smartest affiliates out there, and we thought it would be a great idea to sit down and pick his brain. If there’s one affiliate you should be listening to and reading every word he writes, it’s Roger.
Dealer Dan: You became a poker affiliate long before the poker affiliate boom, and before every boy and his blog were becoming poker affiliates. What made you decide to get into the poker affiliate game and did you have much internet marketing experience before that?
Roger: Yea, I think a lot of the boom for poker affiliate marketing started in 2003/2004 because of the obvious, which is about when I began. A friend of ours in college was big into internet marketing (email spamming) for mortgage leads. I never really knew the exact details but I just remember going to his big ass house going to play poker wondering how in the hell he could make so much money on the internet. Not long after I was playing online poker and talking to some guy who said he was “retired” and all he did was manage his websites where he bought and sold the leads to moving boats around the world.
Coming from a “manual labor” type family it was weird to think you could make money not actually doing “work”. That’s when I started looking into poker affiliating and started off just like a lot of people did back then, putting up cheesy Party Poker bonus flyers around college. It was tricky getting past the cleaning crew, but I got their schedule down so I knew when the best time was to put up the flyers before they ripped them down. I had no marketing experience, in fact had never owned a computer.
Dealer Dan: Are you still very hands-on with all your sites and do a large majority of the work, or do other people do the majority of the work? What’s an average day like in the life of Roger?
Roger:I still answer emails and keep up with the legal gaming part of the industry but I stopped being very proactive a couple years ago. Most of the minor stuff on my main site I’ll do, but it’s pretty minimal. Most of the work comes from tracking down payments and talking to affiliate managers. On the other betting sites or poker websites I own, I don’t really touch (or are works in progress). Some run themselves and any “active” or new ones I have a couple friends work on them. The whole having a huge “management” thing was never my style.
An average day would be wake up, answer some emails, go back to sleep and wake up around 11 and get something to eat, check the waves or go golfing. In the afternoon I’ll usually go boxing or hit the gym. The past year I’ve been traveling a lot so I don’t really have an average day anymore. My goal right now is to travel and surf, fish and golf as much as I can.
Dealer Dan: You’ve been in the gambling affiliate game a long time, since early 2005 and are a very successful affiliate. What tips would you recommend to any new affiliates out there?
Roger:Yea it was 2005 I started my first site, but was earning good money per month without a website through press releases and direct ad buys for about a year before that so never felt the need to build one.
Man, that’s a pretty tough question, very few new affiliates actually succeed because they are so quick to quit. If I were brand new I’d pick a niche that I thought was going to be popular in a year from now (poker forums are great spots to find new ideas) and build upon that in hopes of great returns. Affiliates are so quick to jump on things nowadays you gotta be ahead of things to earn big quickly. Again, such a hard question but networking and persistence I think are the most important aspects of a successful affiliate. For instance, I’ve never met Jeremy Enke but give him and his Pokeraffiliatelistings.com and members (the once Partyriches.com) 95% credit to most success I’ve had (even the spammers and scammers, long story). All the other variables are hit or miss.
Dealer Dan: What’s the deal with the spammers and scammers?
Roger:Oh ha. There was a scammer that some might remember back when PAL was Partyriches who went by the name Ex-croupier. He gave some of the best advice I ever read as a new affiliate, especially about writing press releases. Back then, a press release for online gambling was unheard of. I did a search at prweb for the words “casino” and “poker” and only had two results show up so him giving that advice in detail about how to write press releases was awesome, and helped me personally make a good bit of money before everyone and their brother started in on it. For whatever reason he ended up being a scammer, I don’t remember the entire story but I believe he stole some money from some members or something and that was the last we heard of him…probably still around though just under a different ID, who knows.
As far as spammers, when I was a moderator at PAL it was surprising the good ideas/posts some of the one hit spammers would come up with, they just had no clue about affiliate marketing. Quite a few ideas came from spam posts that we had to delete.
Dealer Dan: You were one of the first affiliates to really aggressively go after the non-Windows market with your main site. These days there is a lot of competing website, specifically for the Mac poker players. Do you find that a lot more competition has hurt you, or helped you in terms of motivation?
Roger:First it was competing affiliates, but once every online poker site came out with a Java or .dmg Mac compatible version the niche dwindled very quickly. On the to do list is to actually change the theme of my main site because of this.
Dealer Dan: One of your latest projects is GamblingSites.com. It’s not your typical “affiliate” site – I don’t actually believe there are any affiliate links on there. Do you plan to monetize the site for direct signups at any point, or is it more of a pet project?
Roger:Yea, I have no idea what I’m going to do with that site. I guess the only way to monetize that online gambling site would be to sell it if it becomes an authority site but I don’t have any plans to put affiliate links on it. Wizardofodds.com has always been an idol site of mine and that’s kind of the idea I had behind the site.
Dealer Dan: Rakeback, and the future of it, has been a big talking point these last few months. What do you think about the rakeback industry, and where do you see it going?
Roger:Honestly, I avoid anything to do with rakeback and don’t even really know how it works in its full extent. Getting to avoid customers is one reason I think owning non-incentive sites is better since I’m not a people person.
Dealer Dan: If you opened your own poker skin, what would you do differently that you feel the average poker room out there doesn’t do?
Roger:I’d never open up a poker skin these days. But one idea I always thought would be cool would be to have a Microphone to talk to other people at the table. Kind of like Xbox Live. I’m sure you’d have to hire table support to monitor the games like no tomorrow though.
Dealer Dan: You played poker before becoming a poker affiliate. It seems more and more these days we’re seeing poker affiliates with absolutely no poker background at all. How important do you feel it is to know what you are promoting, even if you’re already skilled at internet marketing?
Roger: I don’t think it matters too much. If you’re skilled at internet marketing already you’re probably already outsourcing content and links. Most poker affiliates don’t know a thing about casinos or sportsbetting but are still very successful at cross promoting. But, it obviously helps to have a leg up on things and if you’re a player you’re likely the first to know about problems, which as an affiliate can mean the ability to capitalize on something.
Dealer Dan:: Another popular topic these days is the whole “big site vs small site” argument. Do you think it’s best to go for a big catch-all site that covers a variety of topics, or a smaller site that focuses on one specific niche?
Roger:Tough question because I’ve never owned a catch all type of site, but ideally I’d rather have 10 sites earning $10-$20K per/mo than 1 big site with a zillion employees, but makes more. Some affiliates seem to be able to manage by themselves though, it’s just a lot of work and outsourcing/link getting. The smaller sites with little to no maintenance is where I’d stay if I had to choose. At one time my main site was semi-popular and it got hit with a multitude of penalties. From first hand experience in affiliate marketing there is no worse feeling than going from the top to bottom overnight for an unforeseeable future.
Dealer Dan:Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview Roger, it’s much appreciated.
Roger:Thanks Dealer Dan for letting me write this, hopefully it gives some of your readers a little insight into being a full time gaming affiliate if they’re not already one. I was going through your site you have here and you’ve got some awesome information for affiliates already, plus you’ve been into affiliate marketing for longer than anyone I know! Thanks again.