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  1. #1
    CityGuard's Avatar
    CityGuard is offline Former GPWA Program Manager
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    Default Portal Webmaster Interview Series: Ellen Jacobs - pokertramp

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    PokerTramp lays down the law:
    Be honest, be ethical, don’t litter, and save the whales.

    Real name: Ellen Jacobs
    City currently residing in: Hammond Park, Western Australia
    Age: 42
    Favorite food: Thai, especially Tom Yum Vegetable Soup
    One book everyone must read: If I Did It, the OJ Simpson Story
    Sites:,, and others.

    You've been in the online gaming business since 2002. What about the industry made you decide to get involved?
    I started messing around with online video poker in 2001. I ran into a site that Cynthia Carley owned and used her site to pick out the best video poker sites. I started chatting with her via e-mail and phone and eventually was persuaded there was good money in this business and started my own video poker site.

    What do you like about the industry?
    I love the fact that I can work from home. I hate working for someone else. I can set my own hours and be my own boss, that’s the best bit! I love the fact that you can actually play poker from home in your jammies!

    What don't you like about the industry?
    I was at first put off a bit that I would profit from the bad fortunes of others losing at the online casinos. Then I realized they were going to play and more than likely lose anyway, so why not guide them to the most trusted sites and benefit from it at the same time?

    The webmaster side of this industry is a wonderful one. I’ve met so many friendly, caring people along the way; so many are willing to help. And if it weren’t for the GPWA back in 2002, I would not have gotten so far in this business.

    How has the industry changed between 2002 and today?
    It’s grown tremendously for one. The business itself is much more competitive, so you have to work harder. There are many more casinos and definitely more poker rooms available to be affiliated with. When I started, online poker was just launching and there were a handful of poker rooms to advertise for.

    Why did you decide to focus on the poker side of things?
    I have a lot of knowledge when it comes to poker. I ran a private game for more than five years. I’ve been playing poker for around 25 years.

    What's your favorite game and why?
    My favorite game is Hold’em. My best game is probably Limit Hold’em, as that’s all that we played in the private games when I first started playing. But I do love the No-Limit Hold’em. I also enjoy a good game of Omaha High Low or even Omaha, just to keep things a bit interesting and not get bored, as I play very few hands. So when playing online, I normally play two to three tables of No Limit and at least one game of Omaha or Omaha High Low.

    Who is your favorite pro poker player and why?
    There are several pros I respect highly. I’ve played with many and a few are personal friends. But if I had to pick one, I would have to say it’s Barbara Enright. She happens to be one of my dearest friends and I’ve played in live games and tournaments with her. She is an excellent player. She’s won more gold bracelets than any other other woman in history. She just won the Ladies Event at Caesars, and she’s the first woman to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, the first woman to make it to the final table at the WSOP main event, and one of the first 3 to be inducted into the new Women’s Poker Hall of Fame. Not only is she one of the best poker players and a true legend of poker, she is a wonderful, caring, loving person.

    What characteristics of online poker rooms do you find are most important for players?
    For me personally, I need a room that allows me to resize the table; I play several tables at once so that’s a must. But overall the most important factors would be good customer support, fast cash outs, a good selection of games with enough action at all times, nice redeposit offers and, of course, lots of fish!

    Two of your sites focus on poker tournaments. How important are tournaments to attracting and converting new players? Do certain types of tournaments work better than others? And if so, what are they?
    My freeroll site actually gets more visits, downloads and signups than my guaranteed tournament site (cash buy-in tournaments). Many would be surprised at how well freeroll hunters convert to real money players. The freeroll site attracts mostly freeroll hunters, but every now and then you end up with a real money player looking to play the freerolls, and overall the conversions are fairly good. The tournament site attracts the seasoned, more serious players for the most part – hence the decent conversions.

    Is marketing poker to women different from marketing to men? And if so, how?
    The serious poker player is in it to make money, whether you’re a male or female. The market for male poker players is obviously on a much larger scale and that’s why some of these sexy banner ads convert well. But overall I think marketing to women versus men is quite similar.

    In an ideal world, how would you divide the efforts you put into your site? What percentage would go to marketing, updating content, managing your books and other tasks (please list the tasks, include a % and an explanation)?
    Hmm, I’ve never really thought about this one, but I’ll give it a go.

    30% goes to updating banners, links and content, including new promotions.
    I think that this is the most important part of the business. Players are looking for nice sign-up offers, certain promotions that they are attracted to. It’s good to have a variety to choose from, and promos change frequently so you need to keep these up to date. I use a banner rotator on all of my sites, which helps me see what banners are getting the most clicks. I review this at least once a week and change banners around pretty often. It’s important to read the mailers that come in from the affiliate programs. Although this can be time consuming, it’s important not to miss out on advertising new promos, changing links due to affiliate program changes, etc.

    20% goes to adding new poker rooms, casinos and other card games. There are new poker rooms opening up so often now that I get several emails a week asking me to join poker room affiliate programs. I then reply to find out what network they are with, and ask other questions I may have. If they reply in a timely manner and I feel I can use them, I’ll put a few banners in the rotator, possibly put up a review with a 120x60 banner on my reviews page, find out if they have a bad beat jackpot or are a no download room, and add them to the site(s) that best fits that room.

    30% of my time right now is going to my forum, which I co-own with my ex-husband for the time being. Until we decide who will own it, I’m putting in a lot of time with it. I have to spend at least an hour or two a day there to answer questions. We have a freeroll and buy-in league which I have to stay on top of with a league game going every other day or so.

    10% goes to managing books. I check stats maybe once or twice a week with the biggest rooms, and I keep records of all income, expenses, etc.

    10% goes to keeping in contact with a handful of affiliate managers, either by email, phone or MSN.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    When I had my first two original sites, which were strictly casino sites, I didn’t earn anything for the first few months. I remember after a few months I started making a few hundred dollars a month, then within a year it was up to $1,000 a month, and it just kept getting better and better as time went on. In late 2006 it dropped a bit, due mostly to the U.S. laws, but fortunately for me being mostly involved with poker now, the biggest sites I was earning with still accepted U.S. players.

    You've mentioned in the forums that you're interested in marketing rummy. How is that going? Any surprises? How has marketing that been different from marketing poker?
    I just told a friend of mine to build me a site for a new domain I just purchased, That will be my first rummy-only site so I can’t answer much on that one yet. I did start marketing rummy on my poker sites, but just a tad. It’s getting lots of clicks and downloads but not much in the way of real-money players. If it’s anything like poker, it may not show much income for a while, but when it does it could be very profitable.

    What do you wish you knew when you got started in the industry that you know now?
    Do I have to answer that? That may get me in deep trouble! (lol) Seriously, I think learning the business is a process we all have to go through. There’s still a lot for me to learn now after more than six years.

    What advice would you offer someone who has just started in the industry?
    I just talked a good friend of mine from Tennessee into starting up in this industry and first thing I said was to join the webmaster forums and start reading and posting, asking questions. GPWA and CAP are so useful, I suggest that every webmaster join the forums and become active. I also say it takes time; nothing happens overnight and most who get into this business will not be able to make a living off of it. I worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day the first year to get where I am. Then I slowed down to maybe six hours a day, five days a week, and the last few years it’s a few hours a day or more. And if I want a vacation, I can take off for a week and not stress too much.

    If you had to pick 5 keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be and why?
    Be honest, ethical, know the product whether it’s casino games or poker, never be scared to ask questions or ask for help from other webmasters, keep your sites updated with the latest info. And a sixth one I have to add is to provide resourceful information.

    I think all of those things make a reputable and profitable webmaster. It’s so important to know what you’re selling, make sure to let the customers know everything they can to decide if they want to download that casino or poker room. If you play yourself, people trust you more; it’s a big selling point, and you can actually experience the poker rooms or casinos first hand and give honest advice.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    The first thing I look for is promptness with return e-mails or phone calls. I realize that many affiliate managers have too many affiliates to handle so you can’t expect responses in hours or a day, but a few working days to me is plenty of time to at least respond. The next important thing is the reading and accuracy of stats. If something isn’t tracking properly and the affiliate manager isn’t quick to take care of the problem and come up with a good reason why it happened, I will probably kiss them goodbye. If I’ve been involved for a long time with the program and this happens, which is the case right now with one particular program, I stick it out and give second chances, but I will warn new affiliates about any problems. I feel this is only fair.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? And how has it helped you so far?
    As I mentioned earlier, I was in contact with Cynthia Carley, the original owner of the GPWA, and that’s how I first got involved with it. It has helped me in many ways. I was warned of rogue affiliate programs early on, and got help from other webmasters with how to do certain things in Dreamweaver. I’ve signed up under many affiliates in the Casino SignUps Forum, and in return have had several under me to give me a few bucks for the last 6 years. I had other webmasters critique my sites at times. The GPWA has helped me in so many ways.

    If you could change one thing about the online gaming industry, what would it be, and why?
    Let the players from the USA back in!

    You've mentioned you like to go to the gym at least four days a week. What are your workouts like? What kinds of exercise do you do?
    In 2004 I gained A LOT of weight. I had just quit smoking and then found out I had an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, so you can imagine how quickly I piled on the pounds! I started working out probably three years ago, but have gotten really serious in the last year. Unless I am sick, I am at the gym anywhere from three to six days a week. A normal week is four days for me. I try to get in two body-pump classes and two RPM (spin) classes. And just this week I started taking karate with my partner. We also try to get a good bike ride in at least once a week. I’ve lost more than half of the weight I had put on. The last few pounds are the hardest to get rid of, and God knows I try!

    If someone were visiting you in Australia, what's the one place you would definitely take them to see? And why?
    If they are a poker player we would be on the first plane to Melbourne Crown Casino. They have the best poker games here in Australia. If they want to see something beautiful I would have to take them down south a bit. The Southern Ocean is amazing, and there are plenty of breathtaking spots in the southwest. If they want to go out to eat, shop and walk around, it would have to be Fremantle. There are some awesome markets there and some great restaurants.

    What's your favorite vacation spot? And why?
    Now that I live in Australia, I would have to say my favorite vacation spot is where my family is, which right now is Kentucky in the USA. If it weren’t for that I would have to say New Zealand’s North Island or the Bahamas. If I’m in the poker player mood it would be LA, Tunica or Las Vegas!

    What is your favorite movie? And why?
    I have a few favorites. Silence of the Lambs – it’s just an intense movie. Kramer Versus Kramer – that movie makes me cry so hard every time I see it. La Vie en Rose – it’s a must see, the best foreign movie I’ve ever seen. Wedding Crashers – I’ve seen it several times and can’t stop laughing. We all need a good laugh as often as possible!

    If you could have one "super power," what would it be? And why?
    To save the planet. I’m not a “hug a tree” freak or anything, but I do think we should pay attention to how much water and energy we use, and try to remember not to use plastic bags, but environmentally safe bags. Save the whales, don’t litter and all that stuff.

    Assuming you could pick anyone in the world (alive or dead), who would be sitting at your dream poker table? And why?
    Stu Unger. I would have loved to have played poker with him. My best friend and old roommate, Eddie from the USA, was very good friends with him. He taught Eddie how to play gin and they played poker together for years. I’ve heard some wild stories about Stu and would have loved the chance to sit at a poker table with him. I’ve played poker with many of the pros so I really can’t think of anyone else….

    And finally, what are three things that nobody knows about you?
    1. I had two nicknames growing up, “rabbit” because I used to sing “Little Rabbit Foo Foo” all the time as a kid and “Esmarelda” or “Ezzie” because I was the most uncoordinated child, very ungraceful!
    2. I threw up when I was 16 years old after drinking a six-pack of beer, and to this day have not had a beer since. In fact, I drink very rarely, but when I do it’s a vodka with cranberry juice.
    3. I played pool from the time I was 12 or so. My mother bought a regulation pool table and I picked up the game quickly. She owned a tavern and I learned as a young teenager from a “shark” how to play. I won a state 9-Ball tournament in Kentucky when I was around 16 years old. When I was 21 I was playing in the bars in Kentucky and making $50 a night or so betting guys for $5 a game. In the last 15 years I’ve played maybe 10 times. I do miss it.
    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. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to CityGuard For This Useful Post:

    pgaming (20 July 2008), thepokerkeep (21 July 2008)

  3. #2
    mojo's Avatar
    mojo is offline Private Member
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    That is a really great interview Ellen. The questions were well asked and well answered!

    Really enjoyed it!!

  4. #3
    pokertramp's Avatar
    pokertramp is offline Private Member
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    thanks mojo

  5. #4
    pgaming's Avatar
    pgaming is offline Public Member
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    Excellent view Pokertramp! Helps us all out and is motivating.

    Thanks for taking the time for the interview.


  6. #5
    thepokerkeep's Avatar
    thepokerkeep is offline Private Member
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    Super interview Ellen.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Terry - The Pokerkeep
    President / CEO - Gambling Affiliates Union

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  7. #6
    pokertramp's Avatar
    pokertramp is offline Private Member
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    Thanks all
    If one little bit of it helped someone or was found interesting, it made it even more worthwhile!
    Now I have to bite the bullet and get my sites in shape and get the new rummy site off the ground...

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