Q. What do the GPWA and antique Canadian furniture have in common?
A. Terry Bolger is crazy about both of them!
Full name: Terry W. Bolger
Current hometown: London, Ontario, Canada
Favorite food: Rib Eye steak - medium, Asparagus, Corn on the cob, Anything containing chocolate, I have a real sweet tooth
One book everyone must read:
ďHow to Dominate $1 and $2 No Limit HoldíEmĒ by Sam OíConnor. I learned more about poker from this book than all the other books combined. Anything by Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
Favorite quotation: ďPoker is not a card game played by people. Poker is a people game played with cards."
My blog is the newest addition to ThePokerkeep. I use it to keep my readers updated on industry news and endeavor to update it on at least a daily basis.
You are relatively new to the business. When did you get started and why?
I opened ThePokerkeep in January 2007. I wanted to create a portal where honesty and integrity took precedence over profit. A safe haven for poker players. In order to fully explain my motivation for opening ThePokerkeep and the significance of the name I chose, I need to tell a little story.
I was one of many players who lost money to the closure of a site called Peteís Poker a few years ago. At that time someone from within our industry stepped up and went to bat for us. Many players were eventually reimbursed as a direct result of this personís involvement. I was blown away and deeply affected by this person. He inspired me to ďpay it forwardĒ by opening a site dedicated to the education and protection of the average poker player.
In medievel times the ďkeepĒ was built as a fortress deep inside the castle as a safe haven in times of attack. I view ThePokerkeep as a safe haven within the online poker industry.
You say that you got involved in the business shortly after a forum you worked for as a moderator went out of business because of the UIGEA. Considering the demise of that forum, what gave you the confidence about the future of the business that made you decide that it would be a good time to start your own Web site?
Yes, I was moderator and administrator of GoAllIn.com for a year or so prior to UIGEA. Unfortunately the owner ran into financial difficulties and despite substantial cash donations from me and others he closed the site.
Immediately after GAI closed, I helped another good friend set up a forum. We worked together for a couple months but I felt too restricted and we didnít always agree on the direction the forum should take so I decided that it was the right time to take the plunge and open my own site where I only had to answer to my own conscience. Weíre reasonably secure financially so I wasnít looking for an instant profit with the site.
Where do you see the future of the online gaming industry going? Does the unsteady nature of the business worry you?
I think the growth of the industry is close to peaking. There will be new players but they will tend to be younger, smaller-stakes players for the most part. To survive as an affiliate I think weíll all have to be more focused on customer service and the ďquality over quantityĒ approach to business.
Iíve been an entrepreneur since I was in my mid twenties so I thrive on challenge. The uncertainty of the industry today is partially the reason I decided to open my own portal. I think itís more important than ever for players to be able to find honest affiliates who are willing to speak out and protect the casual small-stakes player.
My wife and I each earn a decent income from our 9 - 5 jobs so I donít rely on this business for an income. Therefore the uncertainty of the industry is not a factor for me financially.
I believe weíll see the American Government come to its senses and regulate the industry within the next year or two, which will go a long way toward restoring order and confidence within the gaming industry as a whole.
For someone who has been an affiliate just over a year, you seem to be quite well versed on the industry and how it works. How did you educate yourself so quickly?
I credit GPWA and its members for a good portion of my education. The information available in the forums here is priceless. You can ask virtually any question regarding the business and dozens of members will jump in with valid, helpful advice. I also spend several hours a day reading the various media releases and cruising the major forums. I believe knowledge is power, so I arm myself with as much knowledge as possible.
What do you know now about the business that you wish you knew when you got started?
When I started out I knew nothing about html, SEO, Web site design or the affiliate business. I made every mistake possible, sometimes more than once. For the first six or seven months I spent every spare moment making and fixing mistakes.
If I had known GPWA existed in those early months I could easily have saved myself hundreds of hours. I would have done a lot more research and a lot less work if I had the ability to turn back the clock.
What makes thepokerkeep.com different from other sites? What have been the keys to your success thus far?
Iím not sure weíre that different from other sites. I suppose the fact that we arenít as financially motivated as most sites sets us apart to some degree. If I had to name one thing that makes us unique I would have to say itís the time I take in researching the poker rooms before I agree to affiliate with them. I have the financial freedom to be more selective about who we promote. Maybe the players notice this and place a little more trust in me as a result. I also think players appreciate the time and effort I put into researching and reporting on the industry. Iím not afraid to single out the bad programs or go after those sites with questionable or predatory terms and conditions.
You feature a ďPoker Site Black ListĒ on your site. What went into the decision of having this feature? How does a site end up on this list? Have you ever received any feedback from the people who run the sites that are on the list?
The blacklist was first introduced when the Absolute Poker super user scandal first broke. I was stunned to see so many forums and affiliate websites completely ignore the story. At that time ThePokerkeep consisted of five web pages and a forum, so I created a special board in the forum just for listing rogue sites. Absolute Poker was the first site on that list and remains at the top of the list today.
That board became one of the most popular, most read sections of my forum, so I decided to migrate the list to my home page, where it would be easier to find. I have recently closed the forum and am now considering creating a special ďBlacklistĒ page where I can devote more space to those sites.
To date, there has been no contact from any site on the list. They all end up there for good reason, usually non-payment of player accounts or predatory T&Cís. Iíd be happy to remove any site that makes good or changes the offending terms.
I give every site the opportunity to change the offensive T&Cís before I add them to the list. Some sites are very cooperative and they never appear on the blacklist. I even promote one or two sites that worked with me on making the necessary changes.
Your site is primarily filled with poker brands. Would you consider expanding into other areas like casinos, bingos and/or sports books or is it better for you to concentrate on just poker?
Iím happy to focus on poker. I donít see myself expanding into other segments of the industry. I donít plan on opening other portals either; thepokerkeep.com takes up close to 40 hours of my time each week as it is. Working a full-time job and running the existing site is all I can handle. Iíd rather focus on one segment of the industry and one site than spread myself so thin that the quality suffers across the board.
Have you always been a gambler? How long have you been gambling online? What are your favorite games to gamble on?
Iíve always been a gambler; anyone who runs their own business has to have some ďgambleĒ in their blood. I like to reduce the amount of risk when I gamble, though. I think thatís why poker is my game of choice.
No limit Texas Holdíem is my favorite game and Iím comfortable playing cash games or tournaments. Before the Holdíem craze, my game of choice was Blackjack.
Youíre obviously an avid poker player. How long have you been playing the game? Do you prefer to play in live games or online? How have your poker skills helped you in business and in life in general?
I began playing online in 2000 or 2001, I canít remember for sure. Iím a casual player and consider my skill level to be that of an above average amateur. The game is ďfunĒ for me, and if I had to rely on it for an income, the fun would be gone.
Living in Canada, we donít have access to many live games. The closest casino is an hour away, and with my current workload I rarely have time to get away. I primarily play online and once or twice a month I play in a live home game.
Poker is a game of patience, something I lacked as a younger man. Itís also a game of discipline: knowing when you should follow your head instead of your heart is essential to playing winning poker. I credit poker with helping me become more focused and rational in my decision making process as well.
Your avatar is an image of pocket 9s. Is there any significance to this?
I won a fairly major online tournament a number of years ago while holding pocket nines, so while Iím not superstitious, I consider nines lucky for me. Iím also an avid 9 ball player, so the avatar seemed like a natural fit.
You are quite active in the forums. In fact, you say that you regularly visit 12 different forums. How much help have these forums been to your business? What would you change about the forums if you had the power to do so?
I frequent 12 or more forums on a daily basis. Mostly Iím looking for information and input from players Ė what theyíre saying about the rooms they play in, etc. I lurk in most, post in my favorites and spend most of my time on GPWA and APCW. Being informed is essential to running a successful portal, so I give a lot of credit to the forums. If I had the power to change the forums it would be in relation to how much time the operators spend on educating themselves about the business. I believe the portal owners owe it to their players to give informed and honest advice about the sites they recommend.
You have been a GPWA member for just over six months. What drew you to the GPWA and how has it been helpful in your business?
I was very lucky to find the GPWA. I happened to see the seal of approval posted on a portal I was visiting one day and I thank God that I took the time to investigate. My regret is that it took me seven months to find it in the first place. I love the fact we are free to voice our opinions without fear of censorship or being banned. Iíve learned more from the members here than any other single source on the web. In my opinion, GPWA is the most valuable online resource available for our industry.
You are currently working as an affiliate on a part time basis. Are you making a profit yet? How many hours a week to you spend with your site? Do you have plans to do this full time at some point?
For the first nine or ten months I never made a penny in the business. Since I revamped thepokerkeep.com in January and February of this year business has improved dramatically. I think Iím making a slight profit at this point but if I wanted to collect a paycheck, Iíd be working for pennies an hour. I invest up to 40 hours a week in research and updating the site and blog, so in essence it already is a full-time occupation.
I plan to retire from my day job at some point in the next few years to work this business full time... does that mean 80 hours a week instead of 40? Probably Ė Iím pretty passionate about it.
Your full time job is in the property management business. What does that entail? How long have you been in that field? What did you do for work before that?
Property management is basically about customer service. We manage a luxury high-rise condominium complex. The hours are long, on call 24/7, but the position allows me the freedom to work on ThePokerkeep on and off throughout the day. This is a fairly new career for me. Iíve been doing this now for just over two years.
Previously, we owned an antiques business and a courier company. As my fiftieth birthday approached we decided to semi-retire and closed out the antiques business. A couple years ago we also closed the courier business. My current job is much less demanding and allows me the freedom to develop my site. I spent the better part of twenty years on the road, living out of a suitcase. These days I work from home. Itís a welcome change for me.
Do the skills needed in the property management business and the online gaming industry overlap in any way? Did your past experience as a property manager help you as you got started with thepokerkeep.com?
Definitely! Customer service is a skill everyone in our business needs and uses on a daily basis. My approach to the property management business is the same as everything I do in life. I give it 100% and always strive to exceed expectations. Anticipating the needs of your customers and then fulfilling those needs before the customer even asks is the ultimate achievement in both businesses.
You have four grown children and four grandchildren. If one of them told you they wanted to become an online gambling affiliate, what would you say? What kind of advice would you give them?
I would not encourage them to get into this business but if they wanted to give it a shot, I would support the decision. My advice, do your homework. Research your chosen segment of the market and become an authority in it. Take your time, do it right the first time, donít make all the rookie mistakes I did. Join the GPWA and ask questions. Expect to work for free for months, be patient and give it 110%.
On the GPWA Web site you list poker, volleyball and 9 ball as your interests. Those seem peculiar coming from someone who lives in Canada. Why isnít hockey, skiing or ice fishing on this list?
When I was younger, I loved hockey, both as a fan and a player. When the NHL expanded from the original six, I lost interest. It became too commercial. I didnít know the names of most of the players anymore and the big contracts meant that the richest teams dominated the sport.
I prefer the warmth of summer to the cold and snow of winter, so skiing or ice fishing were never sports I wanted to pursue. Beach volleyball is great exercise and presents a perfect excuse for enjoying a couple cold ones, too.
9-ball is all about control, much like poker. I guess I prefer one-on-one competition as opposed to team sports.
What sports did you play growing up? Are you still active athletically? What are your other hobbies?
As a teenager I played football and road hockey. I was a pretty good short track sprinter in high school. These days I enjoy hiking and the odd game of beach volleyball. My son and I love a good game of 8 ball or 9 ball.
Unfortunately, eleven years ago I had a ladder collapse while doing some volunteer Christmas decorating in the village where our antiques store was located. I shattered my ankle and messed up some nerves in my back and shoulder so Iím not as physically active as I once was. The injuries are not debilitating but they still let me know when I overdo it.
My wife and I are avid antique collectors. We love early Canadian furniture. Just last week we were antiquing and found an awesome miniature cupboard. The workmanship was exquisite. The pride of workmanship was dripping from the piece, so we bought it. Itís now residing proudly in our front entrance under a hand-carved walnut mirror we purchased years ago.
Did you grow up in Canada?
I grew up in Guelph, Ontario. We resided there until 2001, when we decided to move to Woodstock, Ontario. The move was motivated by a desire to be closer to our daughter who had moved to London for college. Woodstock is located between Guelph and London, so it was perfect for visiting our kids in both cities. We never really enjoyed Woodstock. It was too small, and since our courier warehouse was located in London we eventually decided to settle here.
Whatís the most common misconception about Canadians?
Iíd say itís the climate. Most people think we have snow year round. In reality, we only see snow for three or four months a year. Our summers are hot and in Ontario it gets downright humid. The flowers are already blooming in southern British Columbia.
We do love our hockey and beer, though, they got that part right!