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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: Pablo Edronkin ("Pablo")

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    Meet Pablo Edronkin: Profound Philosopher, High Flyer

    Current Hometown: Buenos Aires
    Age: 39
    Favorite food: Asado (it’s more or less like BBQ)
    One book everyone must read: Macchiavelli´s "The Prince"... It shows how the world really is.

    How did you become interested in gambling?
    One day I saw some pilots making bets about the wheels of their plane: Essentially they made chalk streaks on those wheels and bet on the position of those marks after they landed. Since I own a search engine and place ads all the time I wondered why not try with online gambling banners? The results I got convinced me pretty soon about online gambling as a business venue.

    How did you learn about the online gaming industry?
    I started to try this as a business activity through affiliate brokerage companies that offered gambling programs among many other different ones, but then I found that industry-specific brokers offered better payouts and more trade-specific tools, and that is how I finally embraced online gambling.

    What about the industry interests you?
    Despite all the usual moral prejudices and fingers raised against the gambling industry everywhere, people working within it can be counted among the most professional online; I have had prior experience in e-commerce and know that you have to be flexible and straightforward to work in anything related to gambling. We are doing business here, not life philosophy, and like in the case of other perceived taboos – for some at least – things prove to be quite different once you get to know the details. Then, offering gambling products as an affiliate is about seven times more lucrative than any other online activity.

    When and why did you decide to become an affiliate?
    I first learned about e-commerce in 1996, found it interesting and soon started experimenting. Then I put up my own site, which proved to be fairly successful and as I saw how showing gambling ads worked, I began thinking about a second, more specific site. For years, however, I just stayed with one website, but what the U.S. government did about a year ago by passing that odd piece of legislation against online gambling finally convinced me to take the plunge, host the new site in the U.K. and to move all that I had related to this industry from the old site to the new.

    It was a pity in some ways because by that time my site even got to rank among the first 20 or so Google results for terms and phrases like "casinos online," and that was largely lost. But if I did it once, I can manage to do it twice.... So really it’s only a matter of time until I get my new site up in the top ranks again.

    When did you become interested in becoming a pilot? Why were you interested?
    I always loved to fly, but building myself a cabin in the Patagonian Andes got me hooked because just getting there takes about two days of rather technical mountain climbing thorough terrain that looks pretty much like Alaska. With a small plane I can get there from the nearest town in about thirty minutes. So I finished the course, got myself a Piper Cub and cleared a place to land. It is a rather short, one-way "runway" but it works; Cubs are the flying equivalent of true all-terrain trucks.

    How long did it take to get your pilot's license?
    It took me about a year. But that was just the first license because there are various kinds, actually, and some may take you more time than it takes to get a doctorate. Among pilots it is often said that the little card they give you once you pass the final test is a "license to learn." This is true, plus it’s a good statement of the kind of perspective you should have regarding the issue. If you believe that you know everything then you are ready to make a serious mistake.

    What kind of planes do you fly?
    The two I like most are the Beechcraft King Air, which is an executive, twin-engine plane that is beautiful in shape and handling, and the Piper Cub because you have to fly it "by the seat of your pants" with no instruments and no complicated procedures. I guess it comes quite close to the way birds fly. Then, I fly a lot on simulators because I design them.

    For those of us who have never piloted a plane, could you please describe what that experience feels like?
    Once you get the basics it is actually easier and safer than driving a car; in fact I feel safer in the air than on the road to the airport. The view is always superb from the cockpit and you always have a wonderful landscape of clouds in the sky and terrain below which is never twice the same.

    Some say that if you can drive a car you can fly; I don´t know, but the biggest hurdles for anyone trying to learn to fly are mental. There are some things that may look counterintuitive at first because after all we are born without wings: Contrary to what you see in the movies, if you push forward the yoke or stick you will not go downwards but faster; to go down you cut power and point the nose upwards.

    Turbulence is not to be feared, just unpleasant if you happen to drink coffee; landings are the trickiest part of any flight, and if you stall and fall from the sky you should not push the stick back in order to move the nose of the plane upwards, but actually dive straight to the ground to gain speed. This particular procedure is what scares most prospective pilots, but it’s not really dangerous unless you are flying very low.

    If you like roller coasters then you will love aerobatics; it´s pretty much the same but with no rails, and for speed lovers, forget Ferraris! There is nothing so addictive as flying a crop duster or military plane at full throttle at three or four meters above the ground; it’s hard to hit it because the air forms a perceptible, very strong air cushion as you get close to the surface. Only make sure that there is nothing in your way!

    You are a systems administrator, a pilot and you run a portal. How do you balance your different interests and still maintain a personal life?
    In reality these things are related. Once I saw an interview given by Fidel Castro´s daughter; she said that that her father knew how to put several things in motion at the same time with the effort normally assigned to just one. I don´t agree with Mr. Castro´s ideology but I think that such an attitude deserves imitation. I can´t say that it always works but it generally does and saves you a lot of time, and as Nietzsche said, if you find out how to do what you love in life you will not work a single day... so I actually have time to spare.

    What experiences do you bring from your work as an administrator and pilot into running your portal?
    I guess that it’s the ability to attend to several things at once: When you’re in a cockpit you have to look at all instruments at the same time, and when you run any sort of computer system or network you have to understand how each part interacts with the rest. You become more aware of the environment surrounding your business.

    What challenges do you face working in Argentina that other affiliates might not have to deal with?
    I think that society here is rather more self-destructive than average: In Argentina, in order to get anything you have to take it from somebody else because we don´t seem quite able to actually produce new resources. The government behaves in this way too, so you can´t see it as the source for law, order and stability but quite the contrary: You have to assume that at the very least, officials and politicians will make a serious blunder every five years or so – the kind that leaves a lot of people ruined. In other words, you’re always waiting and bracing for some kind of disaster that will surely, positively come; those events sometimes bring new opportunities, and that is what you have to look for if you want to succeed, but at the same time, “Keep your iron underwear on,” as we say here.

    Ultimately that is why we have to endure strange decisions and policies that bring instability, obsolete laws and lack of credible institutions. This, in turn, means that the financial sector and the banking system are not to be trusted and cannot deliver the kind of services that are common in other countries. Getting a check in U.S. dollars and converting it into cash is easy – in theory – but takes a lot of time and costs quite a bit, not to mention more sophisticated operations of the kind often required within the framework of e-commerce.
    Too often rules change diametrically with no prior warning and that creates a lot of administrative overhead; you can find yourself under new regulations dealing with whatever thing, changed at the eleventh hour... but nobody seems to know them or actually where to find the actual text of those new rules! You only know that suddenly what you believed was being done right and legally becomes dangerous for you, or vice versa. I know several cases of companies and individuals that were doing things right and honestly and suddenly, what they did for years, the amounts they invested and so on, were considered illegal just like that, with no “grandfathering,” adaptation period or temporary consideration.

    What happens then is that people, after the initial surprise, tend to just go on with their activities and ignore the rules; some may reconsider what they do, but passing unreasonable laws and regulations repeatedly is a sure recipe for irregularities and disregard for those rules simply because it is unrealistic to pretend that individuals and companies would give up lucrative activities just based on a piece of paper signed in a ministry office on some sort of impulse.

    Just one example: About 44% of the working population here do so without paying any taxes, health insurance, etc. because companies as well as employees don´t believe that it is worth it to do so, and no one is willing to take long-term risks with regulations that nobody knows what shape they will take in the near future. Even the government hires people “in black”! I guess something similar will eventually happen with the U.S. anti-gambling campaign; it is just a matter of time. It is a total waste of time and money for everybody.

    Here bureaucracy is rampant and there is a degree of corruption, so, for example, incorporating your business will take you months longer and cost you far more money than doing the same – say – in the U.S. When I decided to incorporate the company that represents my first website here I found out that it would cost me about US$20,000, plus getting right under the spotlight of the tax agency, while achieving the same feat in Delaware meant just about US$800 and very little in taxes, and eventually I got all the papers in 72 hours instead of six months. It is not flattering for my country to say this but I wouldn´t recommend that anyone invest money by putting a brick and mortar business here; working online is different and a little bit easier if you are skilled enough to legally move abroad, but having a conventional shop is a sure bet for trouble because it would be harder to dodge it than in the virtual world.

    What do your friends and family think about your gaming business?
    They see me as "the proverbial work-at-home" guy. They find it difficult to believe at first but they never disagree or say anything against it, not even when they learn that the cash comes from the online gambling industry and especially after I helped some of them with their financial woes using that money. Here in Argentina people like gambling and betting, and succeeding in creative ways by beating the system is like a social point in your favor, actually.

    What is currently the most difficult part of your work? And why?
    I think that dealing with the hurdles imposed by distance, legislation and the tendency to attempt to control just about everything that governments now seem to have all across the world represents the most difficult or demanding part of this activity in my case. This trend is very dangerous and deserves a lot of attention not just by us in the online gambling industry, but almost anyone who believes in freedom.

    Being in Argentina, which is particularly keen on falling into the same mistakes that everybody else falls into, only sooner and more eagerly than others, makes it necessary to adapt constantly. Dealing with ever-changing rules and regulations is quite cumbersome and imposes a lot of additional work that is seldom long-lasting; when I saw what was taking place in the U.S. in the case of the new anti-online gambling bill that was passed last year I knew that affiliates were being drawn into murky waters because such things happen here way too often.

    What were the most difficult challenges for you as a new arrival into the industry? And how did you meet them?
    Becoming acquainted with the market and understanding how customers think and decide to purchase – i.e., to gamble – was the first obstacle I found. In order to overcome this problem I did essentially four things: Learn as much I could about gambling, test the same games that I was attempting to promote, adapt what I knew from my experience selling other products and services, and finally persist sufficiently to develop a reasonable cycle of downloads, sign-ups and actual bets. These are essentially the same things I did before while I was developing my other website; only the market was different.

    What is currently the most difficult part of your work?
    Keeping up with the things that politicians and bureaucrats come up with. Perhaps that is not the biggest problem in the United States, Canada or Europe, but considering that I live in the country that has the dubious honor of having thrilled the world with the biggest bankruptcy in history, well... that speaks volumes.

    What are the key differences (besides linguistics!) between Spanish-language and English-language players?
    I believe the choices of games are a little bit different: Poker, for example, is not quite as well known among Spanish-speaking players while Bingo and slots do very well. This has a lot to do with cultural roots: Most card games found here are of Spanish tradition and bingo parlors sporting dozens of traditional slot machines each are commonplace, so people tend to feel more familiar with such games when they go online. The other difference is that you won’t find as many casual players online among Spaniards and Latin Americans as you’d find among people living in the U.S.; if you target Spanish-speaking players you have to think in terms of rather well-educated, high-income customers.

    How has the GPWA helped you as an affiliate?
    It got me right into a community of open-minded people sharing common interests; that means a lot just by itself because having a healthy industry means that your business has better chances of succeeding. If you look around many forums and communities online, participants tend to be focused on just having the last word in any sort of discussion; that´s destructive. GPWA members are far more collaborative and as you share your own experiences you also learn from what others have to say. It makes things more pleasant and saves a lot of time and effort. I can´t consider myself a gambling guru so there is a lot that I can learn from others who know far more than I do about the industry, and perhaps my experiences can help others too.

    What advice can you offer people who are just starting up in the industry?
    Write and persist. I think that you need to develop a good website, and that depends in turn on publishing truly original content over time. There are too many websites, and yours should be different from the rest. Content is King, Queen and Prince online.

    It takes longer to develop such a site by writing your own ideas than, say, buying traffic or placing ads, but it gives you far better long-term stability and growth chances: The other, non-gambling site that I own receives nearly 10,000 unique visitors per day, is ranked by Alexa well among the 100,000 top sites, and I never – I swear – spent one dime on advertising, never purchased traffic for it, never opened a PPC account, and never had to pay to have it included in any portal, directory or search engine; I wrote nearly 20,000 pages of original content to achieve that; believe it or not, but it works.

    The main virtue of any such site is that everything you do adds up. I am not against purchasing traffic or ads; anything that will make your business grow is valid but I think that before investing yet more money it makes sense to develop a website capable of attracting people just by its own virtues; then you can get into paid advertising because your money will simply give you a higher return and you won’t strangle your finances while you experiment.

    I never paid much attention to design; perhaps I should, but my sites are all rather simple, and in that sense they leave both human readers and search engines happy. What you write today can last for ages; each article, essay, comment or review that you come up with today translates sooner or later into visitors. You don´t see the design of a site in a search engine´s results; talking about relevant results means developing good titles, keywords and descriptions, and these things depend largely on how you create and develop your site´s content. Looks are fine, but words are better.

    Keep your eyes focused in the long run and write as much as you can. By doing this you will not only be able to attract people who will eventually buy from you, but you will also develop your communication skills and quite valuable virtual real-estate assets because popular sites have a tangible value on their own. I assign as much importance to having periodic, professionally-done website appraisals as to getting good relevance or more visitors, and see them not as cash cows for the day but as a long-term investment.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    When I started with my gambling-specific website I already had some years of experience online in other markets, so I actually got my first deposit after a month or so. The first time I ever placed a gambling banner, before creating my most recent site, I started getting profits after about two or three months of work. Starting in e-commerce a few years before meant that I had to struggle for about half a year before I actually saw a check. More than time I would say that the money-making threshold depends on the number of unique visitors that you get per day: About 200 in the case of gambling sites, I guess. The time before making a profit depends on your ability to gain a critical mass of unique visitors.

    What was your favorite subject in school? And why was it your favorite subject?
    In high school I had a subject that was called "Logic." I fell in love with it because pretty soon I realized that it was possible to win any debate by using logical arguments, plus it was what Mr. Spock referred to every time he spoke with Captain Kirk onboard the Enterprise.

    If you weren't working in online gaming right now, what would you be doing?
    Attending my other site, writing even more content for it, and probably flying a crop duster plane; they don´t have the prestige of airliners but you can do some pretty cool aerobatics with those machines and it is a well-paid job.

    Do you gamble online? If so, what's your favorite game and why?
    Occasionally I do and I prefer slots, perhaps because we have been accustomed to video slots in the "real" world for quite some time now and perhaps one feels more familiar with them. I think that a similar thing happens to a lot of people who are introduced to online gaming; even the almost vertical position of most traditional slot and video slot machines may be a factor because you see online slots on your generally-vertical monitor, and analogies become pretty strong. From designing simulators I know that often the smallest things are those that make the biggest difference in the "make-believe" game.

    If you could pick any animal to be for one day, which one would it be? And why?
    A cat or a wasp: They can fit perfectly in almost any kind of environment and are self-sustaining; if you adapt first, then truly, the sky becomes the limit.
    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
    Chris-AffiliateClub's Avatar
    Chris-AffiliateClub is offline Public Member
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    October 2007
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    A very interesting read!

    Un saludo Pablo
    Acquisition & Affiliate Manager

  3. #3
    mojo's Avatar
    mojo is offline Private Member
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    March 2005
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    I enjoyed reading this pablo, nice job. I didn't know pilots bet on the wheel position lol.

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