So you want to become a poker affiliate? Starting a poker affiliate website doesn’t have to be as complicated or as intimidating than it needs to be. That said, if that person is you and you want to launch a website, it really helps to have a solid plan so you don’t just launch another website that ends up failing.
The online poker industry is very tough to get into when you compare it to other gambling verticals like online casinos, sportsbetting, bingo, and lottery. The number one gambling niche right now is casino and when you look at all the other verticals, almost all of them have some connection to casino, so let’s look at some of the facts:
- Almost all online sportsbooks have a casino and the majority of their income comes from the casino
- Almost all online bingo sites either offer slot games on the side or have a full suite of casino games
- Many online poker rooms have a casino attached: 888poker, PokerStars and partypoker all have casino games
- Many online lottery sites are offering slot games
Armed with this knowledge, it helps to understand how the world of poker is intertwined with the rest of the gambling industry whether online or land-based. So, although you might want to focus exclusively on poker, it helps to know that there are other aspects of gambling that you could consider for your marketing and content strategy.
Less Competition Means a Tougher Market for Poker Affiliates
One of the first things any affiliate should be aware of is that online poker is not very competitive. Sure players might have over 20 online poker rooms to choose from but when it comes to promoting and recommending poker sites for players, there is less to go around, and we’ll look at a few examples including PokerStars. Thus, there are fewer poker affiliates compared to casino affiliates because there are simply not a lot of online poker rooms around in comparison to online casinos.
When you have more competition, it means affiliates get a better deal, and so do players. In the case of PokerStars, less competition means they have less regard for closing affiliate accounts and less drive for targeting players as they have the biggest database. Most players simply want to play at the largest site with the largest pool of players and larger guarantees.
Player Pools & Legacy Players
Poker players want to go where they can find the largest pool of players. This means that the largest poker site will be the one where players will gravitate towards. That happens to be PokerStars, but there are downsides as an affiliate to promoting PokerStars as the top poker site for your players. PokerStars is so big that they don’t value affiliate partners as much as their competitors, who are really trying to get as many players as they can for their respective poker rooms. As such, PokerStars will not be as generous in rewarding affiliates. Plus you also have the other problem of legacy players. PokerStars being the largest site, you might be sending players back to PokerStars who already have an account, so you have no ability to sign them up. You would have the best shot at doing this for new players.
Earning Revenue from Poker Affiliate Programs
The way that most poker affiliates earn money is by getting prospective players to sign up to various poker affiliate programs. If you go to any poker portal and you see banners for top poker rooms or maybe even bonuses or listings of poker rooms, when you click to join those sites, you are doing that through the affiliate program of that poker site where player activity is tracked. So, for example if a player clicks on a banner and deposits money and starts to play, they’ll be generating affiliate commissions for the referring website.
The ways in which you could earn are as follows:
- Revenue Share
Revenue Share Explained
Getting a share of player-generated revenue is what most affiliates aspire for. In poker, rake is what is available for affiliates to take some of the action of, so this could be something like 20%, for example. Other gambling affiliate programs typically work on revenue share, but in poker everything is based on the rake, which is the commission the house collects. As we all know, the rake and has no effect on player wins or losses, whether they deposit and lose all their money or win big.
CPA stands for Cost Per Acquisition and is a single payment paid out for referring a depositing player. CPA for casino players can range between $50-$200 but for poker this amount is less. Typically it is assumed that CPA generates less than what an affiliate would earn if they had accepted a revenue share deal. In CPA deals you get a single, upfront payment for the player but you lose out on potential long-term revenue generated. CPA is possibly less available in poker as CPA unfortunately has CPA fraud for affiliate programs to deal with. That is, those affiliates refer their friends and family or worse, they control and incentivize the players they refer just so they can get a guaranteed profit. This is why many programs don’t bother offering CPA and, if they do, they only accept deals from longstanding, trustworthy poker affiliate sites.
Getting a sponsorship deal is more or less a flat rate fee for advertising that usually will skip CPA requirements or revenue share altogether. It is possible to have a hybrid deal of sponsorship including revenue share, but these are rare and only happen for larger poker affiliate websites.
How Much Can You Earn as a Poker Affiliate?
It is hard to get exact data but there are a few things you can do to get an idea of how lucrative this business is. Here are some data points and milestones to give you an idea of what the industry is about:
- Pokerstrategy.com sold for $49.2 million USD in 2013.
- Numerous poker affiliate sites have sold for 6 and 7 figures over the years; mostly private deals
- Poker domains continue to command good money
Poker affiliate sites these days are not selling for a ton of money, as anyone in poker knows that the same is sensitive to regulations. PokerStrategy was definitely one of the largest poker affiliate acquisitions in history (see interview with PokerStrategy editor Barry Carter). Most affiliate websites are sold behind the scenes for large sums but are not really announced because of private deals. The same applies for poker domains that continue to get sold. Not every poker domain sale is recorded but you can see a list of them here. Some of the larger poker affiliate programs consistently pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars every month to some of their top affiliates. The beauty of this business is than not only can you earn money every month, but your website can also grow in value to the point where you can sell it as an asset.
Poker vs. Casino Affiliation
When it comes to money, casino affiliate programs will generate more income compared with poker affiliate programs. Poker affiliate sites are very different than casino affiliate sites and this is easy to spot when you start to look at the top-rated affiliate sites for either niche.
However, if you love poker but hate casino games, then most people would recommend that you pursue something you are more passionate about, even if it means making less money. Even if that is lottery, bingo, or sportsbetting, find something you are passionate about and it won’t seem like work when you are doing it.
How to Get Started
If you have no experience making a website, then this is the hard part of the learning curve. Almost everyone in the poker affiliate marketing space didn’t go to school to learn any of this work. They just used Google searches to learn and just went ahead and did it themselves.
That said you’ll want to learn how to set up your own website whether using WordPress or some other content management system (CMS). When you have your website up and running, you can start to join poker affiliate programs and start promoting top poker sites like PokerStars, partypoker, 888poker, Tonybet Poker, and others.