How to spot what’s trending early in poker

How to spot what’s trending early in poker

Most people are tech savvy these days and there are few ‘secrets’ in poker, or any other industry. We all know about the trending feature on Twitter, we all have news sites we check daily and most of us know the zeitgeist of the day.

how to twitterWhich in a way makes it even more important to be first through the door when a new trend appears. Jaime Staples and Jason Somerville managed to get sponsorship from PokerStars because of their early adoption of Twitch. Likewise Doug Polk has become a megastar, and Joe Ingram has become a cult star, because of their early embrace of YouTube, which everyone is now trying to get in on. Few people even bother trying to enter the live reporting game these days, because PokerNews established themselves as the place to go for that very early. I think the books I cowrote with Jared Tendler were successful because Jared is a genius at what he does, but we benefited from having very little competition in the ‘mental game’ space at the time, but there is a lot more now. There are exceptions all the time, of course, but getting in early is always a benefit.

I’m no expert on spotting the next big innovation in poker, in fact I am usually the guy writing about the thing I never predicted, but I do have a few tricks for finding out what is trending or what big stories are breaking in poker that anyone, poker media or operator alike, can benefit from: [Read more…]

The Power of Negative Publicity

The Power of Negative Publicity

total_gambler_2654_15Last month I wrote a blog post about what I felt the International Stadiums Poker Tour did wrong from a marketing perspective. I also wrote about the concept of newsjacking.

Today, over at, I wrote a column about how the Dusk Till Dawn partnering with the ISPT might actually be a genius move for them.

It’s a very interesting example of how negative publicity can be used for positive effect. The public response to the ISPT was tremendously negative, but DTD managed to place themselves in the story perfectly, as the White Knights, just in the way PokerStars were the heroes of the Full Tilt Story. [Read more…]

My Bluff Power 20 Picks

My Bluff Power 20 Picks

shirt-template-large_womens-logo2This year I was asked to be one of the 50 panelists to nominate people into the Bluff Power 20 – an industry listing of the most influential people in poker.

The purpose of the panel is to pick inclusions based on how you see the industry, not how you think others will see it.

Here is the list, with the actual inclusions on the left and who I picked on the right:

Bluff Power 20
Ranking Official My Pick
1 Mark and Isai Scheinberg Mark Scheinberg
2 Mitch Garber Harry Reid
3 Norbert Teufelberger Preet Bharara
4 Harry Reid Ty Stewart
5 Ty Stewart Peter Bernhard
6 Daniel Negreanu Mitch Garber
7 Gary Loveman Dominik Kofert
8 Mark Pincus Daniel Negreanu
9 Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta Tony G
10 A.G. Burnett Mark Pincus
11 Raymond Lesniak Phil Hellmuth
12 Chris Christie Edgar Stuchly
13 Tony G Matt Savage
14 Brian Balsbaugh Norbert Teufelberger
15 Dominik Kofert Phil Ivey
16 Edgar Stuchly Gus Hansen
17 Guy Laliberte Tom Dwan
18 Steve Heller Kevin @Kevmath Mathers
19 Matt Savage Mason Malmuth
20 Antonio Esfandiari Brian Balsbaugh

Probably the first thing to call out on my list is I clearly missed the point when it came to the importance of Preet Bharara this year. As a European poker writer I have obviously confused the importance of the US District Attorney this year.

Other than that, you can see I have put more emphasis on poker players and media figures, than US politicians. That’s just the poker world I reside in.

I think I made a mistake including Tom Dwan. I wanted to include an influential online player, and he seemed to fit the bill, especially after how he well came out after the FTP scandal. Gus Hansen for the same reason, he was one of the few big FTP names who came out of the scandal with the respect and gratitude of the players. In hindsight, maybe I would have took Dwan out, moved everyone up the list, and I might have sneaked Alexandre Dreyfus in at number 20, because he seems to be involved in everything at the moment.

Antonio-Esfandiari-Winner-300x200I am shocked, totally shocked, that so many of my peers voted for Antonio Esfandiari. That is the only inclusion I truly disagree with. Yes he won the biggest tournament prize of all time, but everyone and their dog knows it was a basically a 45-man SNG which completely distorted the poker money rankings, and that Antonio was playing for a fraction of his own action. The win does make him very marketable, but does it really put him ahead of Phil Ivey or Phil Hellmuth? Ivey the best player in the world and face of IveyPoker (which although I think is starting to look like a very stupid venture is still getting a lot of attention). Hellmuth is still the biggest name in televised poker and answered all his critics last year winning two bracelets. Is he really ahead of those guys? I’ll concede he may be ahead of my other two player picks Gus and durrrr, but no way the two Phils.

Two other inclusions I feel were vastly overlooked were Mason Malmuth and Kevin Mathers. Quite simply, if you want something known in poker, you want Kevmath to tweet it and you post a thread on TwoPlusTwo. More so, no poker venture gets shot down and destroyed more quickly, no famous poker pro gets shamed more sooner, no scandal breaks faster than when it is on TwoPlusTwo. In my personal day to day experience, these two people probably have more influence between the media and players than most of the rest of the list combined. Obviously they don’t directly affect policy changes, the Stars VIP system or where the WPT will go next, so I kept them quite low down on the list, but they still easily make it in my opinion.

I look forward to my own inclusion when they roll out the Bluff Power 8,256.



The iGaming Post Plagiarism Scandal

The iGaming Post Plagiarism Scandal

Clipboard01The poker media itself has become the centre of a scandal this week, as industry news website iGaming Post was outed for blatantly plagiarising the work of others. I noticed this myself a few weeks ago when PokerFuse pointed out on Twitter one of their stories had been lifted by iGaming Post and passed off as their own, and yesterday a blog post from revealed the extent of their plagiarism.

A twoplustwo thread and multiple tweets have since been posted outing the website, yet amazingly not only have they not responded to any of them, they even continued to post another news article written elsewhere as their own today.

I have been the victim of plagiarism myself multiple times, and also recently discovered that my book with Jared Tendler had been translated and distributed in another language without our permission. In the online age, the most striking thing for me has always been how on earth these people think they can get away with it. I have a suspicion that the iGaming Post website is treated more as a token website with which to give some leverage to their awards ceremony and other ventures, rather than using it as an acquisition tool in itself. It’s not the best looking website for a start, so I have a feeling they probably don’t take their content very seriously at all.


Sometimes it is actually hard to write something that doesn’t look like you have plagiarised it a little, even if you haven’t read the original source. When a lot of the news is essentially ‘man wins poker tournament’ often your content can look similar to others and it can be hard to put a unique spin on it. However with most writers there is an unspoken code that we won’t do it, or at the least you make the effort to make it look like you haven’t just pressed copy and paste.

Most importantly, it is very important to give proper citations where appropriate. I’ve already written at length about the importance of linking to other poker sites in these instances. You avoid a backlash like the one iGaming Post faces right now for a start, it also makes you look more professional and trustworthy to your readers, and I am sure in most cases the original sources are highly appreciative of the back links to their sites.

The real crime is silence

If plagiarism wasn’t bad enough, remaining silent is just plain stupid from the iGaming Post. In the Twitter age you simply cannot wait for something to blow over. Right now all the advertisers at the iGaming Post are being inundated with feedback from angry people pointing out what they have done and they won’t want to advertise with them in the future. Not responding to this backlash quickly is going to hurt them bad and really paints a picture that they are out of touch with the industry and technology in general.

The poker world is a small world, especially in the age of social media. The longer iGaming Post take to address this, the more momentum they will give the poker media to possibly shame them out of existence with their advertisers.


Newsjacking and Poker Marketing

Newsjacking and Poker Marketing

Newsjacking is a trend in online publishing, where where you inject your own ideas into breaking news, in order to get coverage yourself.

I did a simple newsjack this week. After the WSOP finally released their schedule, after putting out the initial release, I followed it up with a column where I shared my thoughts on the changes to the schedule. It was an easy content decision to make, because the conversation of the WSOP was ripe and people still wanted to discuss and read about it.

Popular ways for media to newsjack include top lists, interviews, opinion pieces, and ‘twitter reactions’  features.

The GPI newsjack the Partouche cheating scandal

imagesNewsjacking sounds very much a poker media device, and it is,  but it is even more effective as a poker marketing device. When timed well, newsjacking can bring with it a lot of free publicity, traffic and authority.

A great example of newsjacking for marketing purposes in poker came this week. Alexandre Dreyfus of the Global Poker Index announced that that the GPI would be suspending Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi from their rankings. This came hot off the heels of a video of them being released which had evidence of their alleged cheating at a Partouche Poker Tour final table.

Have Pasqualini and Rossi been banned from a casino, tour or event as a direct result of this suspension? No. Were they even close to topping a GPI leader board? No.  Do they even know or care what the GPI is? Possibly not. If you break it down, it was quite an empty gesture in itself, but it was also a brilliant PR move.

Dreyfus struck while the iron was hot, namely this story about Partouche cheating scandal. He created a controversial storyline which was easy for poker media sites to pick up, and was currently part of the conversation that was taking place on poker forums. Most poker sites picked up the story, and some even newsjacked it themselves with opinion pieces to further the discussion.

Am I saying Dreyfus was disingenuous? Not at all, I do believe that he is trying to progress the game and discourage cheating, and I do believe that the GPI had always planned to introduce the concept of Player Trust Ratings too, which was the other big announcement from them in this story. I just think he was very shrewd with his timing. It’s a win-win for me, a fantastic PR move and a genuine way to further the discussion about cheating in poker, and to put people off doing it.

More examples of newsjacking

paddyThe undisputed kings of newsjacking in gambling are Paddy Power, who are renowned for their publicity stunts with a hint of satire. Just this week they did their classic newsjacking stunt of offering ridiculous odds on something in current affairs. This week it was opening a book and suggesting that hardcore atheist Richard Dawkins might become the next Pope at the cleverly priced 666/1.

Did anyone believe they were being serious, and will anyone bet a single £1 on it? Not at all, but at (presumably) zero cost to themselves they have been mentioned in hundreds of national newspapers as a result.

Another newsjacking instance this week came from one of the few sponsored players who is really aware of his brand image, Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew. Randy created his own version of the latest internet meme the Harlem Shuffle. Classic newsjacking, he took a conversation which was already happening, and put himself into it:

Get in there early

life-of-a-news-storyThe key to newsjacking is to get in there early. If you are one of the first to respond to it, you get an opportunity to become the authority on that subject. If your website is the first to report on a story, it is the one which will get linked to by everyone else.

I found myself, inadvertently, living this example a few months ago. I was one of the first people to retweet the Daily Mail article about Phil Ivey not getting paid his winnings by Crockfords Casino. As a result the Daily Mail rang me up to be an expert, and asked if it was possible to cheat at Craps.

It was vanity which made me do it, and I regretted it, because it really is an awful rag of a paper. But it didn’t stop there, in the next 24 hours I got contacted by ITV and CNN to do an interview too, which I turned down. However had I been looking for that publicity, it would have been a dream, and all because I was the first ‘authority’ figure to tweet a story (If you ever want to get this sort of exposure for your brand, just sign up to Help a Reporter Out, and you will get the chance to),

The rules of media are changing, and there are now many ways to get effective poker marketing without having to spend a fortune. Newsjacking is a brilliant example of how poker media and poker businesses can both make the most of a conversation which is already happening to increase their own exposure, as long as they can be quick and creative, and time it just right.

And yes, I guess you could say I am newsjacking the Global Poker Index story myself.

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