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    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: TJ | AceHigh Pino

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    Age: 30
    Hometown: Del Rio, Texas
    Living in: Gilbert, Arizona
    Favorite Food: Green chile enchiladas
    Must Read Book: The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

    Sites:
    4Flush.com
    RakeMonkey.com
    Picks.org

    When did you launch your earliest sites?
    My first foray into affiliate sites was a portal called PokerOwnage.com (wow, what was I thinking with that domain name???). Like most affiliates I had a lot of my friends and family sign up under me at different rooms and thatís how most of my income came in for the first six months. It was like the Wild West in those days and such easy money. I had zero idea that this was actually the worst way to conduct business in this niche!

    I later learned that this was a quick way to get busted for CPA fraud Ė something that I hadnít known about when I first became an affiliate Ė and I quickly changed up my marketing strategy. I signed up at places like GPWA and Party Riches (Jeremy Enkeís first affiliate site, which turned into PAP and now PAL Ė PokerAffiliateListings.com) to learn the ropes and basic SEO and then everything kind of took flight from there. Itís been quite the learning experience, even after almost a decade in the industry.

    How many total sites have you launched, which ones are you continuing to make over, and which ones are gone for good? Explain the history and process here.
    I probably have well over 30 sites in my portfolio, with most of them being in the iGaming space, finance and precious metals. Iíve financed a lot of my newer projects by selling some of my favorite projects, such as Gambling101.org and Gambling666.com. They were tough to let go but theyíve since led to bigger and better things, especially in my acquisition of sites and domains like 4Flush.com and Picks.org.

    I hope to turn sites like 4Flush and Picks into powerhouse portals someday. With my son being born just a few months ago (my first kid!) Iíve found it really difficult as of late to juggle work and family so Iíd like to get a real game plan going for these sites so that I can turn them into huge sites by the end of 2014.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money? And which of your sites brings in the most revenue? I juggled working at JP Morgan and developing PokerOwnage.com for a few months before I started seeing some decent revenue from the site itself. Like I said earlier most of the income early on was just family and friends helping me out by signing up at different poker sites and sportsbooks.

    As I began to learn more about SEO and marketing in general I started seeing my revenue rise, especially among my rev-share accounts at a lot of the poker sites I promoted. In this business you have to not only be really good at what you do to make decent money but you also have to get lucky here and there. Iíve had fortunate breaks in this business that have helped me gain valuable players Ė players who have earned me income for four, five and even six-plus years at certain programs.
    The sites that earn me the most money are sites I donít even have listed at GPWA so Iíll probably just have to keep those to myself for the time being. Sorry! I will say that you shouldnít underestimate the strength of mini sites. No matter how much Google may have downgraded them in the past year, trust me when I tell you they have proven nevertheless to be good earners for a lot of bigger affiliates to this day.

    How did you become involved in the industry? We know you quit your job at JPMorgan Chase in 2005 to pursue poker as your full-time profession. What percentage of your current income derives from playing poker and how much comes from your work as a webmaster?
    I donít play poker as much as I used to back when I was first building websites and working at JP Morgan; however, I do bet sports a lot and it probably makes up 10 to 15 percent of my income in the last few years alone. Iíve been fortunate to be a winning bettor and I do put in the hours researching games and know a lot of really solid picks guys who have helped me out immensely (and who also write for my sites).

    The other portion of my income comes mainly from affiliating and my rev-share accounts. I rarely do CPA because thereís just no value long term for me. The days of $400/$500 CPAs are pretty nonexistent now unless youíre a super affiliate, so it doesnít make too much sense to not go with revenue share (remember that, noobs). I do some short-term media buys on some sites that I use to inject other sites with content and links, but for the most part a lot of my income derives just from being an affiliate.

    Are you a one-person shop or are you part of a larger organization?
    I have been a one-man operation ever since I got into affiliating. Iíve worked with the same group of writers, programmers and translators for over three years now. Iím extremely OCD and have been a perfectionist all my life so itís been a blessing to work with so many cool people who are just like me and can take some constructive criticism every now and again when I feel something is ďoff.Ē

    Describe your work environment. Do you work from home or in an office? If you work from home, how often do you get to see and interact with other people in the industry?
    I have a pretty sweet office setup complete with dual 30Ē monitors, a couch, 55Ē flat screen and an XBOX One. As you could imagine, my concentration suffers immensely when it comes to work and taking care of my infant son! Since I work from home I make it my personal mission to get out of the house for a couple hours a day, even if that means just going to Starbucks to work in a different environment or going to the gym to play some pickup ball for a few hours.

    As far as interacting with other industry people Iíve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of them in real life at industry events in Vegas in the past. Iíve also got affiliate buds in Colorado and in the Bay Area in SF and Napa, and I see them frequently because I also have family living very close to them in those areas. Some of these guys are extremely close to me and are some of my best friends, so itís been really cool interacting with them face to face as opposed to just online in a Skype conversation or something.

    You've discussed a few incidents of content theft on the GPWA message boards. How difficult is it to deal with content piracy? And why is it so important to track those that steal content down?
    Whoever coined the phrase ďImitation is the sincerest form of flatteryĒ clearly was never a webmaster in the iGaming space. It is the single most annoying thing to police and stay on top of, especially when youíre running dozens of sites. Thank God I have some pretty great friends in the industry who have always helped me identify sites that frequently steal my content, or else I would hardly ever catch it.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    Unresponsive AMs are the kiss of death in this industry. If youíre not responding to e-mail for days or weeks at a time, then why should affiliates take any of the time to put up reviews, videos and other media for your brands? Címon, maaannnn!

    As far as programs go, having no negative carryover is always an attractive selling point for me, especially when it comes to casino affiliate programs. Keeping their banner/media sections up to date and e-mailing affiliates with the latest promos are also pretty big for me, because that way I can update my content properly.

    How difficult is it to find a quality affiliate program for a U.S.-facing online poker site these days?
    Itís not as nonexistent as you might imagine, but itís still slim pickings regardless. Ever since ďBlack FridayĒ hit the online poker industry there arenít exactly a huge line of poker rooms that actually have their **** operation together. In fact, I could probably list only a handful of U.S.-facing programs I would trust and promote today.

    What are you hoping to see improve for affiliates if/when sites start offering affiliate deals in Nevada, New Jersey and other states that have regulated online gambling?
    Iím hoping that these programs will embrace affiliates as integral parts of their operations. Right now, the legalization of online gaming in a lot of these states is still in its infancy Ė thereís a long way to go before more states jump on the bandwagon and we affiliates can finally capitalize on USA traffic again.

    I can say, though, that there are a lot of big things going on behind the scenes in Nevada and New Jersey and there will be a lot of opportunities for new and existing affiliates to market to USA players. We just have to prove to these operators that as affiliates we will always be an important asset and will always have unique ideas to promote their properties on our websites.

    Whatís your preferred method of communication with affiliate managers? Do you like to talk on the phone, by e-mail or via Skype?
    Since Iím a slave to technology itís probably e-mail all the way. I can easily respond on the go or when Iím watching my son or hanging out with my family Ė simple as that! And when Iím working in my office Iím a huge fan of Skype and have uninstalled AIM and MSN . . . theyíre just of no use to me anymore when I can either chat via my keyboard or webcam on Skype, ya know?

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    I first joined years and years ago. What drew me to the community was the amount of information that members just freely gave out, especially in regards to SEO and content management. Back when I was a noob I could never imagine people who barely knew one another would be so nice as to offer helpful tips and advice, especially in a business that can be pretty cutthroat.
    Iíve done a horrible job of posting at GPWA, especially since Iím such a regular at Poker Affiliate Listings, but Iím hoping to change that going forward Ė pinkie swear!

    You recently posted about the disgraced Bitcoin trading site Mt Gox. Do you have any experience with Bitcoin? And what do you think the future holds for the virtual currency?
    I have a lot of friends who jumped on the BTC bandwagon when it was in the double figures and have made a pretty small fortune from their unforeseeable rise in value over the past few months. While I think the Mt. Gox controversy tainted Bitcoinís reputation a little bit, itís clearly shown itís here to stay, as BTCís value has stabilized nicely since Goxís downfall.

    I believe the future is still pretty bright for crypto-currency like Bitcoin and other similar virtual currency like Dogecoin and Litecoin. If youíre like me and have no faith in the U.S. banking system in its current state then I think BTC is a viable option when it comes to moving money and protecting it long term Ė and keeping it far, FARRRRR away from ďbig brother."

    What do you like about the industry?
    The freedom it gives me to just do anything I want. There arenít many jobs where you can work a couple hours a week and still pull in six figures a year!!! Itís allowed me the freedom to spend time with my family and friends, travel a ton and still have money to put away for when Iím ready to retire (although letís face it, I donít think I ever want to stop doing what Iím doing Ė would you?).

    Also, the people I work with have shown me some amazing things and Iíve had the opportunity to mentor some pretty awesome people. Hell, a few of them even make more money than me now! It makes me super proud to see some of the big things theyíve done and gets me motivated to do bigger and better things for myself.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
    Shady programs and even shadier affiliate managers. Iíd like to also see more transparency between programs and affiliates and players. Just stop being horrible and quit trying to pull the wool over the eyes of people who are smarter than you and have the resources to prove fraudulent circumstances. Example: Lock Poker. Enough said.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    This has and always will be one of the most irritating things about being an affiliate. My parents think Iím just some online nerd who ďmakes websites and writes stuff.Ē My friends think I just ďhustle.Ē Ha ha. I mean the list goes on and on. From now on when someone asks what I do Iím just going to say ďInternet bum.Ē

    Do you gamble online? If so, what do you play?
    Iíve always been an avid sports bettor and have been getting into real-money fantasy leagues as of late. I take the time to really study a lot of games and for the most part Iíve put together a lot of winning years, especially when the NBA and NFL seasons come around.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail? What e-mail tips can you offer?
    Iím addicted to technology, so needless to say if you e-mail me youíll normally get a pretty speedy reply. However, Iím pretty bad at responding on Skype since my son was born, so normally I wonít reply to messages for a day or more at times even though I always leave my status as ďonlineĒ Ė which tilts the hell out of a lot of my friends and AMs at times! Maybe I need a better ďawayĒ message than ďIím OnlineĒ!?

    How do you manage your ďto-doĒ lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    Iíve used BaseCamp in the past and have found it to be extremely useful in getting tasks organized, especially if you need to delegate different tasks to your team. Other than that if I canít contact someone through e-mail or Skype I can normally find them messing around on Facebook and Iíll bother them there! Leave it to social media to always let me know when my writers arenít really ďwritingĒ!

    How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your sites?
    I come from an old-school line of mentors who were always about two things Ė content and SEO. You couldnít have one without the other, so obviously itís pretty crazy that Google is cracking down on sites that have been doing it the ďrightĒ way for so many years. Panda and Penguin have made affiliates adjust their entire website model to accommodate these changes and Iíve found myself learning from a lot younger people about the newest trending SEO tips; itís been great thinking more outside the box when it comes to the ever-changing world of SEO.

    As far as social media go, I think Iím still a dinosaur with that stuff. I love Facebook and Instagram, but only for my own personal use. I have FB pages, Twitter and G+ profiles set up for a lot of my sites but I still havenít found that happy medium in which I use my own work time to help drive more traffic to my websites. Itís something EVERY webmaster needs to do nowadays but I still think this is one area in which I still have a lot of homework to work on.

    Whatís the most difficult thing about running your sites?
    Iím just a one-man operation so Iím always stretching myself pretty thin when it comes to getting my own tasks finished and then managing what my team does every week. I always imagined scaling a ton more eventually but anyone who knows me knows Iím pretty laid back and just enjoy the situation Iím in right now. I want to be there for my son and my family as much as I can Ė especially since I didnít always have my parents around growing up because of their crazy work schedules Ė and the way my business operates now allows me to do just that and, God willing, will let me continue doing so for a long time!

    Whatís the best thing about running your sites?
    The freedom of it all. Plain and simple. If youíre not in the affiliate business to achieve at least SOME type of personal freedom then youíve clearly chosen the wrong career path!

    I also love the people I work with. Iíve been extremely fortunate to work closely with a lot of my ďstaff" over the years, as well as being able to proudly showcase the work of some of the most well-known writers in the business. Iím also friends with a lot of these people in real life and have had the opportunity to bounce a lot of great ideas off them over drinks and strippers. Ha ha.

    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?
    Getting to the gym is something everyone struggles with on a daily basis when you work from home. Trying to juggle work and family is something that never comes easy. Whether itís a 9-to-5 job or working from your home office it can be super easy to just say, ďUggghhh, Iím too tired.Ē I donít fall into that trap, and remaining active is something I strive to make happen every single day of the week!

    Mentally, I just try to read a lot and keep up on current events. You should also work to stimulate your brain with good books and mix in a few great documentary movies for good measure. I would also like to go on the record and say that I truly hate Wikipedia because that site is a huge time suck for me and sometimes I will get caught reading up on the most random things on the site for hours at a time while Iím working.

    If someone were visiting you, whatís the one place youíd definitely take them to see?
    Since I live in Arizona I think itís a crime to not see the Grand Canyon at least once in your lifetime. Itís absolutely as breathtaking in real life as it is on any postcard, or in any history book or movie scene. If you havenít taken the time to see it I think itís time you round up your family or friends and road trip your ass out here immediately, Griswold-style if need be!

    When you need to get as far away from work as possible, where do you go?
    I love hiking. The outdoors is where itís at for me. I have a lot of trails I hike regularly, especially those around the Superstition Mountains just outside Mesa/Apache Junction. If Iím not there Iím probably playing basketball at the gym. Iím not that good but I have a passion for it like no other!

    Also, I have a pretty big gun collection and a lifetime membership at my local gun range here in Arizona. I love going out shooting with my pops and my other buddies. Itís an amazing stress reliever, too.

    Whatís your favorite vacation spot?
    Iíve always had a soft spot for San Clemente. Itís a small surfer town in southern California and my family always took me there growing up as a child. On top of hitting up Disneyland just down the highway on the I-5 we would always find time to hit up the beaches in San Clemente. If you ever have a chance to go itís one of the hidden gems in California and youíll never meet more laid back people anywhere else.

    Whatís your all-time favorite movie?
    Iím a huge movie buff so this is a pretty tough question! If I had to choose, it would be pretty close between Scarface and The Godfather, Part II. To me they are absolute classic tales of the ďAmerican Dream,Ē and even though the protagonists in each film lost a lot during their rise to power, I can respect the hustle and the drive of Tony Montana and the Corleone family. Is that unusually twisted given the subject matter of those movies and comparing it to what we do as affiliates?

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    I could talk about sports 24/7 so it would probably be heroes of mine like Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan and Tiger Woods. These guys arenít just gifted athletes but theyíve also proven to be just as skilled in building their brands (like Jordan and Tiger) and running the front offices of major sports teams (like Ryan), so it would be very cool to sit at the table with them to talk shop, business and of course sports. It probably would be fun as hell to talk business and life with people like Steve Jobs or even Mark Cuban, too!

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    I absolutely hate the texture and smell of cough syrup and milk. I will literally almost throw up just thinking about those two things, so you could probably imagine what happens when I actually come into close contact with either. Regardless, I try to keep my distance!

    I also have an avid fear of heights. Even though Iíve hiked some of the biggest mountains in the Southwest and fly almost monthly I rarely ever look down for too long as I get super nervous and anxious when it comes to high places. Itís not something Iíve shared with a lot of people, so why not spill it here on GPWA?!

    One last thing nobody knows was that I was secretly married back when I was 23. I was young and stupid and we ended up getting hitched in a Vegas drive-thru Ė the Little White Wedding Chapel Ė after about six weeks of dating. Needless to say the marriage didnít last all that long and was probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life. Never mix business with pleasure, folks (she used to be a writer for my websites!).

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Aaron For This Useful Post:

    -Shay- (20 June 2014), edgarf76 (18 June 2014), Renee (30 June 2014), sweetbet (18 June 2014)

  3. #2
    sweetbet's Avatar
    sweetbet is offline Private Member
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    Excellent interview. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.
    Sweet Bet - Reviews of reputable online casinos, poker sites, sportsbooks & bingo halls
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    edgarf76 is offline Private Member
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    It was a good read , except the part about disliking milk lol

  5. #4
    AceHigh Pino's Avatar
    AceHigh Pino is offline Private Member
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    That's one sexy mofo in that picture...too bad they cropped out my poor little baby boy out of it , lol. Regardless, no hard feelings. It was a fun interview to do and hopefully a solid read for the GPWA community.

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    Maria F is offline Former AM
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    Thank you for sharing!

    I bet Goodfellas is also one of your favorite movies.

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    AceHigh Pino (20 June 2014)

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    Voids is offline Private Member
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    Really good read. Provides plenty of inspiration for us newbies! Might have to hit you up for some advice!

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    AceHigh Pino is offline Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voids View Post
    Really good read. Provides plenty of inspiration for us newbies! Might have to hit you up for some advice!
    Always here to help!

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