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  1. #1
    CityGuard's Avatar
    CityGuard is offline Former GPWA Program Manager
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    Smile Portal Webmaster Interview Series: Bruce Eicher - Chips

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    How has the GPWA helped Bruce Eicher?
    If you asked him, he could write a book!

    Full name: Bruce Eicher
    Current hometown: Richmond, Virginia
    Age: 47
    Favorite food: Seafood: Shrimp, lobster, crab
    One book everyone must read: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
    Favorite quotation: "Frequently, the difference between success and failure is the resolve to stick to your plan long enough to win." --David Cottrell
    Your sites:,

    I understand that you started off in the industry as an online poker player. Did you play live games before you played online? What drew you to online poker? What sites did you play at? Why those sites? Do you still play regularly?
    I started off playing a few home games with family. I knew nothing about Hold’em and played as the designated dealer for a game so I could learn the game. I think my wife will never forgive her brother for introducing me to the game. I still love the home game when I get the chance and have evolved into a somewhat solid player.

    I have not yet had the chance to play at a casino but we have plans for a weekend in Atlantic City and a trip to Vegas in the fall for my son’s wedding. I hope to get into some games there. This is of course if I don’t win a qualifier to the WSOP and get the chance at the Main Event.

    My online experience started before the dreaded UIGEA was passed and my brother (in-law) told me how much fun he was having at Party Poker and Absolute. I did play around with Party as a play money player for a bit but preferred Absolute. I stuck to cash games as I did not have any clue about tournament poker let alone the ever popular freeroll. (now I can’t stand freerolls). Next thing you knew I had the “poker bug” and started doing searches for poker sites. Somehow or another I found a site on the ongame network called, this site kept me a long time; I played nowhere else. I even called my brother Ronnie and got him to sign up (hmm, was this the first of my marketing?).

    I think it was Ronnie who found the tournament tab and we would play the 6:00 PM freeroll every day and try to outdo each other. Let me tell you we rarely ever saw the final table. We were happy to cash a few cents. We were regulars in the 30 plus finisher club.

    The next move we made was to Bodog and I still play there from time to time. I love the cash games because of the loose players and I can usually build my bankroll quickly there in very little time. I found an ad in a magazine that got me to check it out and once again I recruited old Ronnie to check it out and he once again deposited to help me out with the refer a friend deal (he still will only sign up under me and play the sites I tell him are worth playing).

    Since I also operate a poker forum I still play five or six private tournaments a week but the days of having 4 or more games going at once are long gone. The demands on my time do not allow for the multigaming and I am fortunate to play one game start to finish without multitasking. [Anymore I find myself playing cash games after work is done and I am doing my backups.] WHAT??

    The sites I play at usually are Landshark Poker, G2GPoker, Absolute and Bodog.

    You've mentioned that you play mostly Hold'em, but you dabble in Omaha. What is it about Omaha that you enjoy?
    I guess the thing I like about Omaha is the change of pace and also the amount of concentration you must devote to it. This is not a game to play if you are mutitasking. You need to pay attention to so many things: your hand, the other players and the texture of the game. It is a great departure from Hold’em.

    I had a visit from my daughter once and had an Omaha game starting. She agreed to watch me play (just what a poker junkie wants). I explained the game and the difference from Hold’em to her as well as every move I made and why. I also told what I thought the other players had and how I thought they would play in a given situation. The funny thing is that I won the tournament! I can only attribute that to the amount of focus I had and the need to explain every move I made and why.

    You've also said that you like to play H.O.R.S.E. What is it about H.O.R.S.E. that you find interesting? Any tips you can share?
    The thing about H.O.R.S.E. that I enjoy most is the change of the texture from game to game. Just as I start to lose interest in Hold’em, Omaha kicks in, and so on. Another thing I like is I may be up against a strong player in Hold’em but can dominate him or her in 7 card.

    H.O.R.S.E. is a true test of “poker perfection.” If you can master the 5 different games you are well on your way.

    I think before players dive into H.O.R.S.E., they should play each game separately. This way they learn the games, even if they only play with play money. This way they get to understand the rules and tactics of each part. I have seen players in a game that chat in “I have no idea what I am doing.” This is not a place you want to be in a poker game.

    You also need to be aware of what style of poker is being played. Many times I see a player in a H.O.R.S.E. game playing RAZZ when the style has changed to stud. The chip stack is gone fast in this game if you are not aware of the game style at hand.

    After you started playing online, you started to participate in forums. What attracted to you to forums?
    Great question. Back in September 2006, I came across Doyle’s Room back when it was on the Tribeca Network. I was still a freeroller and saw a private game called the Blue Lizard Lounge. I had no idea about forums and message boards but saw you had to go to this website to get the password to play. This started the forum bug in me. (Oh joy, now Bruce is infected twice.) I signed up for that game and lo and behold I actually won the tournament. I can still taste how good that felt to me! To this day I am still a member of that forum and play some of their buy in games and a few freerolls.

    The great thing about forums is the games are smaller. You form a bond with the members, learn how they play, and it helps you to improve your game. Many times we have exchanged information with each other on what is wrong with our game. It really helps to have a friend to point out where your holes are as opposed to being called a donkey.

    After some time, you became a moderator of a forum. Which forum is that? Is it still around? And what lessons did you learn there that you've carried through to your own forums?
    I was a member of about 20 or so forums and one sent an email looking for moderators. I pondered it for a few weeks and they kept sending out the “want ad.” This was Chipstalkers Poker. I finally got up the nerve to apply. I think I had maybe 20 or so posts at that time. I did have a bit of time on my hands as I was home on a medical leave from work. I was shocked when I was accepted into the position.

    I learned so much from Dan (the admin). When I started out I could paste a screen shot, but that was about it. I had no idea what HTML let alone BBC was. He really helped me to learn it and explained the basic HTML codes. He also gave me pointers on how to approach affiliate managers, request private games and gave me my first taste of affiliate marketing.

    Unfortunately Chipstalkers has gone by the wayside. The owner of the URL did not continue the domain and it is now just “another free board.”

    How did you discover the affiliate marketing business? What drew you to it? What distinguished it from other possible businesses you were thinking of entering? What was the thought process behind it?
    Again I must thank Dan for giving me the tools or at least showing me where to find the tools. The thing that attracted me was the thought of earning with other people playing. When I think about it, it seemed like a great way to make a secondary income.

    I guess what attracted me to gambling over other possibilities was that I understood the poker market somewhat from being a player. I have always believed that in order to be successful you need product knowledge. I thought about other avenues but this was after I got involved in the gambling market. I still may diversify into other areas in the future, but right now my focus is on the gambling market. Once I have gone full circle with the gambling market I plan on heading in other directions. I have not settled on one genre yet.

    You are a retail store manager and have been in the retailing industry for over 30 years. What business lessons and best practices have you taken from your experiences in the retail industry and applied to your affiliate marketing business? What's the name of the store you manage?
    Retailing and affiliate marketing are so closely tied in work ethic and values. To be successful in retail you need to have product knowledge, great customer service, a commitment to your customers and a sense of urgency. The same is true in affiliate marketing. If you lack these rudimentary skills you will not be successful. It is all about discovering what the customer (or website visitor) is looking for and delivering it quickly, accurately and as smoothly as possible. I am a currently a store manager for Big Lots stores. I have held many positions over the years, up to district manager over 14 stores. And yes, Christmas is as bad as it may look for retailers, but it is the best time of year to have fun in your job.

    What about online gambling industry fundamentally interests you?
    It has to be the community as a whole. How many other genres of affiliates have a group like the GPWA and all the different forums? Now with all the social applications, we are even more closely knit. I could not imagine sitting down with all my competitors in retail and sharing ideas and helping each other to be more successful. Retail is so cutthroat, with one trying to out do the other. In this industry we, at least in our group, help our competitors to a degree for the good of all. There are so many great people I have met in the last year. It would take me many years to have a circle of this magnitude in retail.

    You've mentioned that your goal is to become a fulltime webmaster in the next 18 months? How close are you to that goal?
    I am headed in the right direction. Some days when traffic is down or the stats for a certain month are discouraging I may get a little down in the mouth, but I try to keep in my mind my favorite quotes and stick to my plan. I have a note on my desk below the monitor that says “refuse to lose.” It was originally a note to me for my poker games but has transformed into my daily life now. I know this business is not one in which you make millions overnight and remind myself of this when the chips are down. I gave myself a time frame to make it or break it simply because you need to have clear cut goals in all aspects of your life if you want to be successful.

    Both affiliate marketing and retail management are time intensive occupations. How do you manage your time to make sure you’re working toward your goal? Do you have any time management tips you can share to help other affiliates?
    I make sure that my “real job” is first and foremost as it is what pays the bills. But in order for me to hit my targets and goals I also need to devote an incredible amount of time online. I usually will get up early and meet up with my European contacts and then go to work. After work is good for West Coast contacts and working on content and my forum. Over the past year I have had several months off from work due to some medical issues. One thing this has done is give me more time to work on my site and promotions. I keep a task list of things to accomplish daily and adhere to it. I also have two wonderful moderators who are there to help. Jason and Rudy keep things in line, tabulate leader boards and offer suggestions to make our forum better. I could not handle all of it myself.

    For new affiliates I would offer the following:
    • Make a clear plan with specific goals and stick to it.
    • Don’t get sucked into time wasters like IM chats (turn it off if you need to).
    • Avoid needless surfing. There is time for that when the task list is complete.
    • Finish writing about the site you just signed up for before you sign up for another. It is far better to have one complete review done as opposed to 10 “review soon” banners. You are only digging a hole that you will have to climb out of.
    How long did it take for you start making money with your site?
    About two months. When I was a moderator, I was allowed to set my own promotions up and was able to make some small commissions off of them. Once again, I need to stress that simply placing a banner on a website even with page rank will not make people click. Content is what sells the product.

    For people who are considering opening forums, what advice would you give them?
    As I said before, buy your site. With free boards you will get frustrated with the down time and the lack of support, and the traffic is harder to build on free sites; plus you have to put up with all the ads that someone else is getting paid for. Don’t earn the tag of a freeroll forum; it is far better to have 150 members that participate than 1500 that don’t. I learned this last year when I started setting up promotions. I would have 150 members sign up for a freeroll game but could not get 5 to play a buy in game. You cannot expect a poker site to give you freeroll after freeroll and not get depositing players. Freerolls were created to get people to test drive the site. Buy in participation, sign ups and conversions are what the sites you promote are looking for. Your job is to make the site money and you make it in return.

    Pick a site (or a few) to promote and stick with it. Too many forums jump to the next new site opening and players will not deposit as they don’t know if you will be there anymore. If you stay with the same site month in and out you establish consistency and your members are more secure knowing you will be there for a long time. Affiliate managers are more receptive to a site that repeats promotions.

    Take care of your members: ask for opinions, go to bat for them with your affiliate manager when needed. Treat every member with respect and be sure everyone is treated fairly. Above all else, be honest.

    Generally speaking, what kinds of information are poker players looking for when they visit your site?
    In my vision they are looking for more information on the site they are interested in. If not they would just sign up directly. They want to know about any special promotions, the deposit options, any special offers you can give them over the general promotions the site offers.

    What's the difference between marketing poker sites vs. casinos?
    I have just started casino marketing and to me it appears that the visitor is looking for more information before going to the site. Since I operate a forum I find casino easier as I do not have to set up games for the members. Casino players appear to me to be looking for stable software, fair play and easy cash outs. The casino player base is not as much community focused from what I have noticed so far. This is because a casino game is man versus machine whereas poker is a group of people facing off against each other.

    What makes a good affiliate manager?
    The best affiliate managers are the ones who are interested in helping the affiliate to be successful. They take time to visit the affiliate’s site and “grade it.” I think the great affiliate managers I have are the ones that keep me informed of promotions, offer suggestions to improve and even give me links to help with SEO and search engine submissions.

    What do you look for in an affiliate program?
    The number one thing is how the site treats its players. If a particular site or network has issues with cash outs, support or software stability I want no part of it. I have started to play at sites to test them before I will offer them to my visitors and members. If I am not happy I will not pursue the site. Being US based I ask my non US based friends about it or rely on fellow GPWA members’ posts to decide. If affiliate payments are slow I would expect that players’ cash outs would be as well.

    What advice would give to an affiliate just starting out in the industry?
    • Form a genuine bond with your affiliate managers. Keep your word, and ask them for advice. They have been in the business and advanced for a reason. Ask them to look at your work and critique it.
    • Plan time each and every day to research, read, and find ways to improve your knowledge.
    • Do not be a banner farm. It does not work (I know from experience).
    • If you are serious, buy a URL. Free sites generally will not gain the traffic you need.
    • Be honest to your affiliated sites and your members and visitors.
    • Offer only the best: if you would not deposit your cash there, why should they?
    How long did it take for you to start earning money with your sites?
    With my own sites it was immediate. When I left Chipstalkers to run my own site I had a following and had developed a rapport with the sites I was promoting. I also ran a few multi-forum challenges that helped get me off the ground rather quickly. I guess I had a leg up when I opened Poker Player US.

    If you had to pick 5 keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be and why?
    1. Have a sense of urgency; if you see a hot promotion get it placed as soon as you can. And just as important, remove it when it is over. Try to stay ahead of the competition.
    2. Maintain a high level of integrity. Earn visitors’ and members’ trust. You need this bond so you get return traffic and build a member base.
    3. Develop a database of opted in members. People are busy and may not have the time to visit, but they still read email. This alerts them of special deals you have, new promotions, etc.
    4. Don’t promote a site regardless of the free cash just for a sign up. If you don’t feel safe depositing, do not promote it. (I had one site that made my virus protection go crazy. I did not promote it.)
    5. Set a goal, make it obtainable and stick to it. You need to have an idea where you are going and how you will reach your goals.
    How does the GPWA help you in your work as an affiliate?
    I could write a book on this question. The GPWA helps in so many ways. I try to get by daily and look through the “today’s posts” option (thanks for having that). I use the forum to interact with the other members. So many have much more experience than I and have fallen into the same holes I have. Since I became a private member I look to the senior affiliates for advice, criticism, and to stay abreast of industry happenings.

    I also use the GPWA to research a site before I sign up for a program. I look at who pays on time, what affiliate managers are active and concerned with us and on the flip side the programs that may not be the best choice.

    What's your favorite activity away from work? And why?
    I have many activities all equally important depending on the season.

    I really enjoy cooking, when I can find the time. I enjoy preparing meals other than the basic “meat and potato” dinners. Some of my favorite dishes to make are Chicken Cordon Bleu in a mushroom and white wine sauce, and shrimp in many varieties: fried, cocktail, scampi, shrimp fried rice all in one meal. A nice juicy rib eye on the grill is the “basic” for me.

    Aside from cooking, I try to take Saturday night off and devote it to my wife. We may watch a movie but more times than not we break out the karaoke gear and party on into the night. I have a professional setup with over 4,000 titles.

    Summertime finds us in the Miata, top down and cruising into the mountains or to the coast. Richmond is very central to both, so we have a good variety of scenery to travel to.

    What was your favorite subject in school? And why was it your favorite subject?
    US History interested me the most. I traveled to many historical sites and Civil War battlefields when I was growing up and it all tied together. Studying the growth of a nation was fascinating to me. I still enjoy watching the History Channel and Civil War documentaries. One of the nice things living in the Richmond Metro is the wealth of historical sites, museums and battlefields.

    If you could change one thing about the online gaming industry, what would it be, and why?
    Aside from the obvious repeal of the UIGEA? The online industry needs to be more customer friendly. There are so many rogue sites out there that are more than willing to accept deposits but when it comes to player withdrawals they just about have to send a DNA sample in to get it approved and paid… if they ever get paid.

    What is your favorite movie? And why?
    “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” This movie is so much like my wife and me. We started out as co-workers and friends. We actually used the theme song “I’ve Finally Found Someone” as the entrance song for our wedding. The song is a perfect story of our relationship, and how we came to be what we are today. Unlike the movie we never had the “issues” they faced.

    What's your favorite vacation spot? And why?
    Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This is a special place for my wife and me as we spent our honeymoon there. It is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg provides a nice relief from the everyday rat race. We have a cabin that we rent that is located in a secluded spot. The area attractions are great and when we are ready to kick back, the cabin has an outdoor hot tub to relax in with a nice glass of wine. We have returned several times in the winter and summer months. The winter is great because the town is not as busy, and the hot tub is awesome in the snow and cold. Summer visits allow for great hiking in the National Park and plenty of night life as it is the peak season there. Oh and the food is awesome, the fresh caught mountain Rainbow Trout is irresistible.

    If you could pick someone to play you in a movie about your life, who would it be and why?
    Tom Hanks. He is such a great actor and can carry off many roles flawlessly. He has a strong presence in a crowd and changes gears easily. My life has undergone so many changes. From careers to the personal side, only an actor of this caliber could pull off all that I have been through. He can be funny when he needs to be and serious if the situation changes.

    Last question, who is your favorite superhero? And why?
    I really do not have a “superhero.” Growing up we had Superman, Batman and Spiderman to choose from. I never really got into that mindset.

    If you were to ask who my hero was, it would have to be my father. He was the one that instilled in me values, a work ethic, and kept me on the straight and narrow (usually).

    We were in church every Sunday, had great times together, and this man literally never stopped working. He carried a full time job and a part time job so we all could have what we needed. He joined the Boy Scouts with us and was an active member of the Scout troop. He went along on the campouts and every hiking trip we had. He was always there when I needed him. To me that is a true superhero. And yes, he is still alive and will celebrate his 80th birthday this year.

    I remember when he helped me get my first retail job. He told me, “You bust your butt for him, or I will bust it for you!” I never forgot those words and it is what truly defines my work ethic.
    I have left the industry and earned a law degree at Indiana University Bloomington, Maurer School of Law. Here are ways to stay in touch with me:
    > Facebook:
    > LinkedIn:
    > Skype: StevenCorfman
    > Phone: +1 617 785 9324

    Inquiries intended for an administrator or staff member can be directed to Anthony Telesca through the forum (username Anthony) or to the general contact address manager AT gpwa DOT org.

  2. #2
    james01 is offline Private Member
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    Great interview, Bruce!

    Thanks for sharing all the info.

  3. #3
    redsraiders's Avatar
    redsraiders is offline Private Member
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    I think I know a STAR now!!
    Very interesting Bruce, Thank You for sharing.
    "Be who you are and say what you
    feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" --Dr. Suess
    "We need not fear the expression of ideas....We do need to fear their suppression." Harry Truman

  4. #4
    mojo's Avatar
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    Nice job Bruce! Very good advice such as this:

    Have a sense of urgency; if you see a hot promotion get it placed as soon as you can. And just as important, remove it when it is over. Try to stay ahead of the competition.
    It's great to get to know you a little better!

  5. #5
    Chips's Avatar
    Chips is offline Private Member
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    Thanks y'all! It is truly an honour to be associated with such a great group of people! Thanks to all the help from my fellow members I grow closer to my goals every day!
    "People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity." ~Andrew Carnegie~

  6. #6
    Paolino's Avatar
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    Nice to know a little bit more of your life Bruce, interesting interview!

    Online Gambling Guide -
    I sell Cheap Web Hosting.

  7. #7
    Topboss is offline Private Member
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    Great interview Bruce and your dad sounds like a really great man and special person.

  8. #8
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    Great interview Bruce, thanks for sharing....

  9. #9
    thepokerkeep's Avatar
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    Excellent interview Bruce. Well deserved recognition for you as well. Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful responses. And good luck in reaching your goals. (not that you need luck)
    Terry - The Pokerkeep
    President / CEO - Gambling Affiliates Union

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