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  1. #1
    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Needham, MA
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Jon | PokerTrip

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    Age: 39
    Hometown: Houston, Texas
    Living in: Las Vegas, Nevada
    Favorite Food: Mexican
    Must Read Book: Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

    When did you launch your sites? was launched in 2006, and was launched in 2004. I acquired them both from their founders in 2011, with the vision of growing each of them into something much bigger.

    Are you a poker player? Was the genesis of your sites personal in nature?
    Yes, I have been a poker player for the last 20 years, since I was a sophomore at college in Arizona. I now live in Las Vegas, where I used to play a lot but donít have much time to play anymore. My combined love for poker and business is definitely what drove me to start this company, and what keeps me motivated and having fun every day.

    Explain the process you went through in determining that there was a place in the market for a site dedicated not just to poker, but exclusively to poker in Las Vegas. Were you at all concerned that perhaps this was too narrow a focus? What are the similarities and the differences between your two sites? Are overlapping and duplication of content a problem?
    It is pretty astonishing how many people come to Las Vegas just to play poker, and even more so, how far in advance they begin planning their Vegas poker trip. Although our two sites cover poker in all of North America, Las Vegas is by far the most sought out region. There are definitely some overlapping and duplicate content issues for Las Vegas between and, but each site offers a different user experience. With this being said, I am pretty sure that PokerAtlas will eventually end up with most of the Vegas-related traffic, which AVP currently has the lions share of.

    Poker Atlas tracks many different jurisdictions. How difficult is it to keep all the information up to date?
    This is very difficult and requires having a full-time team of five individuals in addition to having great relationships with many properties which enable us to gain access to otherwise tough-to-acquire information . . . typically before the information goes public. We pride ourselves on being more accurate than most casino websites themselves, but this is not difficult to achieve.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money, and which of your sites generates more revenue?
    Fortunately for me, both of our sites already had a fair amount of traffic when I took over ownership of them, so I was able to start generating revenues from them almost immediately.

    How did you become involved in the industry?
    I have always been fascinated with the gaming industry, going back to my childhood days on ski trips in Lake Tahoe. I used to watch people playing with such jealousy that I was too young. Since discovering a casino with an 18-year-old age requirement while in college, I have been a pretty frequent player and visitor of properties around the world for the last 20 years. I just love this industry.

    Are you a one-person shop or are you part of a larger organization?
    I am the President and CEO of the holding company that wholly owns PokerAtlas and All Vegas Poker, Overlay Gaming Corporation. In total, we currently have a team of 15.

    Describe your work environment. Do you work from home or in an office?
    I have an office in Las Vegas with 11 full-time employees, and we have a handful of folks working remotely. We have a typical start-up environment, with an organic atmosphere where we have as much fun as we can, while still getting the job done.

    Nevada has now had online poker up and running for almost a year and New Jersey has been open for business for a few months. Do you have affiliate relationships with any sites in Nevada or New Jersey?
    Yes, we have affiliate relationships with practically every site in Nevada and New Jersey.

    What do you think the future holds for affiliates who promote sites regulated in the United States?
    I think there will be far fewer successful affiliates in the newly regulated environment than what we experienced previously. The industry dynamics and economics are very different now, which results in less of a need for affiliates and lower lifetime player values.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    I look for someone who is honest and transparent, and has a good teamworking attitude. I look for the same in an affiliate program. The most important things to me are transparency and integrity. Itís no fun having to question the authenticity of tracking capabilities by operators, especially when they arenít willing to provide more transparent information for us to do so.

    Whatís your preferred method of communication with affiliate managers? Do you like to talk on the phone, by e-mail or via Skype?
    We typically use Skype for regular communication and e-mail in between. This works well.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    I heard good things about the GPWA so decided to join. Unfortunately I probably havenít taken full advantage of the benefits of membership yet.

    You're one of our many "lurkers"; you've been a member for about a year and a half, but have never posted on the message boards. Is there any reason why?
    If I ever feel that there is an opportunity to contribute to community sites, I typically do. However, I am typically a lurker because I am usually on a mission to obtain information and therefore donít come across as many opportunities to post anything. Even on Yelp, I have been visiting the site almost daily now for about three years, but have only posted maybe two reviews.

    How does running your own forum site make you think about the other online forums you visit?
    It almost makes me feel guilty for not posting more frequently, but at the same time makes me realize that I am among the larger population of lurkers.

    What do you like about the industry?
    I love the adrenaline and excitement among players in the gaming industry, along with the innovative technology, architecture and visual design investments by the properties.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?
    I really canít think of anything that I would change, other than possibly some of the people whom it historically attracted, which has had a negative impact on the industryís reputation.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    They probably all think I work too hard.

    Do you gamble online? If so, what do you play?
    I used to play a lot of online poker, but now play much more infrequently.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail? What e-mail tips can you offer?
    I typically respond to all of my e-mail in bulk, in the evenings. During the days, the e-mail stacks up faster than I can respond. My recommendation is that if it takes longer than five minutes to respond, wait until you can respond to many simultaneously. If you can respond in less than five minutes, try to get it out of the way. Of course, this also depends on how time-sensitive a response is.

    How do you manage your ďto-doĒ lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    I live by my calendar, where I keep a running to-do list and constant reminders about things. I used to be able to track everything without organized lists, but my number of to-dos has now increased to an insurmountable level.

    How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your sites?
    These are both a big part of my business, so we invest a lot of time and attention to both.

    Whatís the most difficult thing about running your sites?
    Hiring good employees. Las Vegas has been a HUGE challenge compared to my last company in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I had a much higher success rate with hires.

    Whatís the best thing about running your sites?
    Doing what I love to do, and being able to make an impact and add value to an industry that I love.

    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?
    Mentally, I love challenging myself with various aspects of problem-solving and skill-oriented games. Physically, I try to visit the gym on a regular schedule, but lately have had difficulty planning my time accordingly. My favorite exercise is yoga, outside of what little exercise that golf offers.

    If someone were visiting you, whatís the one place youíd definitely take them to see?
    I would take them to see the Las Vegas strip, and some of the huge casino properties. No city in the world compares to Las Vegas, so itís really a unique experience to see the size and scope of the big Vegas casino properties.

    When you need to get as far away from work as possible, where do you go?
    My two favorite escapes are visiting my family in Houston, and when I donít have as much time, playing golf.

    Whatís your favorite vacation spot?
    My favorite vacation spot is about eight miles from my house, the Las Vegas Strip! Aside from that, I love beaches, snowboard trips and exploring new countries with cultures very different from what we have in the U.S.

    Whatís your all-time favorite movie?
    Casino, and I probably donít need to explain why.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    I would love to invite family members from several generations ago, just to learn more about my roots and what my ancestors were like.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    Iím not sure I can share this, as there is probably a reason that nobody knows!

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  3. #2
    Renee's Avatar
    Renee is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
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    My favorite exercise is yoga, outside of what little exercise that golf offers.
    My dad has played golf every Saturday since he was 15. He tried to get me to play when I was young and I have played a few games in the last few years.

    It is a LOT of exercise. You're on your feet the whole time and walk a few kms. I wouldn't say it offers little exercise at all!
    Renee, Affiliate Program Manager
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  4. #3
    BeckyCA's Avatar
    BeckyCA is offline Public Member
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    July 2009
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    Great interview, GPWA! Love the advice on email management too.

    Jon, some of your answers made me laugh...and you DO work too hard! ha! See you at G2E

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