While I spend many of my waking hours producing poker content, I spend arguably even more time than that consuming poker content. In that regard, one site that has captured more and more of my attention has been Poker Central. First appearing on my radar in late 2015, it was immediately clear to me that they intended to be a major player in the industry. By now, the company is of course so familiar to poker fans that it’s almost strange to think that as little as two years ago, they were just barely becoming part of the poker landscape.
To gain a sense of how much Poker Central has accomplished during its short existence, just take a look at their Press Releases. From announcing their cadre of top-tier ambassadors to new programming initiatives to producing the annual Super High Roller Bowl to installing a top-notch editorial team, Poker Central has delivered its share of big hits. More recently, it slammed a couple of golden opportunities right out of the park, inking a broadcast deal with the WSOP/ESPN bigwigs and launching the Netflix-like PokerGO streaming service.
Whether it’s my frequent visits to the website, my regular tuning in to the Poker Central Podcast or Heads Up with Remko, enjoying their bite-size chunks of poker entertainment on social media, or checking out what’s on offer via their live stream, the fact of the matter is that what Poker Central has done has worked: They’ve combined the magic of excellent content with the lifeblood of superior distribution to give their fantastic product “universal” exposure in the poker world.
It goes without saying that they’ve got a strong presence at the WSOP as well; if you’ve strolled through the hallways at the Rio, you’ve seen the Poker Central booth, where you can subscribe to PokerGO in person (and get a cool free little souvenir patch!).
No, the good folks at Poker Central did not pay me to write up all those words of praise; they’ve earned them. They also piqued my curiosity. Heading into my sophomore year at the WSOP, I wanted to try and get a closer look at what Poker Central was all about, specifically to meet some of the people driving the company’s success. Graciously, they accepted and invited me to the company’s headquarters for a behind-the-scenes look at the nuts and bolts of their operations.
Nestled in the heart of a pristine, glossy-new hi-tech industrial park a mere stone’s-throw from the Las Vegas Strip, the Poker Central offices are truly beautiful, inside and out. As I entered the premises, I was greeted by the sound of Will O’Connor recording an episode of the Poker Central Podcast with Remko Rinkema joining him from Toronto via Skype. The poker vibe of this place was very much in the air.
Two tall gentlemen then appeared, WSOP bracelet winner and “player liaison”/Digital Marketing Manager Brent Hanks and Poker Central VP of Content Sam Simmons. They gave me a tour of the offices and then proceeded to engage me in a great conversation for the better part of an hour. During that time I learned a number of things about the company, including a couple of startling facts: 1) that they employed a mere couple dozen people full-time and 2) most of the company’s employees are 30 years old or younger. (At least Brent revealed that he was 35, like me, so I didn’t feel too old or out-of-touch.)
Those facts say a lot about Poker Central, namely that the company punches WAY above its weight. For such a relatively small group of people to have accomplished so much in such a short space of time is remarkable, to say the least. Moreover, whether they’re marketing and social media experts, digital media producers, or on-air talent, what seems to be the uniting factor among all Poker Central employees is their love and passion for the game. And they’re mostly still all in their twenties! These are intelligent, well-educated people in the primes of their lives sinking their time, effort, and considerable talents into promoting poker. Poker is not dying; it’s booming and it has a very bright future! To bear witness to a group of people so dedicated to making a poker product succeed is very special, indeed.
“Working hard and playing hard” is one of my mottoes, and this seems to be true at Poker Central as well, where employees know how to balance the often-long hours with a good deal of fun activities, including office poker games (at a very sweet table, see below) and participating in the wide variety of events that Las Vegas has to offer.
If I can philosophize for a moment, society nowadays is perhaps just a bit too results-oriented. Sure, results are important; they drive the bottom line after all. Yet, the effort invested to achieve those results is what interests me more. The people behind the numbers are the real story of a company’s success. That’s what I wanted to see up close.
What a privilege it was to have met the good folks at Poker Central. You ought to as well.