Poker news sites have begun a metamorphosis. Many of them are looking more like daily fantasy sports media outlets every day. And if they’re not careful, this change will backfire in the long run, especially for the poker base.
When poker players take up a new hobby, the poker media follows along for a minute or two. Whether it’s crazy prop bets or Open-Face Chinese, the media rightly documents the new craze. In the case of OFC, which is a form of poker, it wasn’t so much a hobby as a trend, and poker media outlets followed it from the beginning.
Many poker players are also fans of sports betting. Placing wagers on sports is wildly popular with many players who are also gamblers at heart. It’s never a surprise to see sports broadcasts – ranging from football to soccer, from tennis to golf – on the television screens in poker rooms or tournament areas.
And since gambling and poker are often linked, especially with regard to laws and developments regarding the legality of various games, poker media writes and shares articles about gambling due to poker implications. This is most common with the topic of online gambling, as some laws focus on poker only while most connect online poker and casino online offerings.
DFS Infiltrates Poker Media
A look at a poker media site on any given day will subsequently offer a range of subject matter, though most of it ties back to poker in obvious ways.
- An article posted about the legalization of casinos in Brazil is related to the future of laws about online poker in that country.
- The stock price of Caesars is linked to Caesars Interactive, which runs online poker and casino sites in the United States and around the world.
- Vanessa Rousso’s recent appearance on Big Brother was noteworthy because of her history as a sponsored poker pro and many accomplishments in the game.
Then came DFS. And it crept up on the poker industry with just a whisper.
Daily fantasy sports betting was popular with poker players for years and escalated with the predominance of companies like DraftKings and FanDuel in the market. Players enjoy the opportunity to combine wagering with favorite sports like football. And even former poker players like Jon Aguiar went to work for DraftKings.
So when DraftKings became a sponsor of the 2015 World Series of Poker, the mentions of DFS became more prominent. Not only were WSOP players drawn to the DraftKings lounge over the summer and inundated with branding at the Rio and at various websites, there was even a WSOP summer tournament called the $1,500 DraftKings 50/50 No Limit Hold’em.
DFS also made legitimate poker news recently when PokerStars and Full Tilt parent company Amaya purchased Victiv, a daily fantasy sports site that they quickly renamed StarsDraft. Amaya’s intention of expanding far beyond poker has never been a secret, and the company is moving forward with full force toward competing in the online casino and sports betting markets.
But somewhere between the summer of DraftKings and the news of StarsDraft, several poker media sites jumped the shark.
What was once an occasional DFS article became a weekly column with suggested fantasy team picks. What had been a smattering of DFS information became tutorials on how to participate.
A Survey of Poker Media Sites
On this random Monday, let’s take a look at some predominant poker media sites.
Site A’s homepage:
- Poker strategy article
- Report of WPT Borgata final table
- DFS business article
- Sponsored article for Sports Information Traders
- Sponsored article for Americas Cardroom
Last Thursday on Site A, six of the 11 stories posted were about fantasy sports. And Site A has always been focused on poker and card games, in all of its decades of publication. In related news, several of the top ad banners on various pages were purchased by fantasy sports companies.
Site B’s homepage:
- WPT Borgata report
- DFS weekly analysis
- Recap of Rousso’s Big Brother outcome
- Online poker report
- Open-Face Chinese tutorial
This site remains focused on poker but has upped the number of DFS articles and obtained a fantasy sports company advertiser.
Site C’s homepage:
- Alex Dreyfus‘ vision for poker
- Article about RAWA and related gambling bans
- Report about US sports betting market
- ESPN questions fantasy sports
- Golden Nugget folds free-play site
- DFS legality analysis
Though mostly a blog site, there have been more DFS articles of late, as five of the 13 stories on the main page are related to fantasy sports.
PokerListings, Poker News Daily, and PokerUpdate remain overwhelmingly dedicated to poker.
Don’t Alienate The Poker Audience
My point is that that the editors and others in charge of poker media sites might want to keep an eye on content so as not to run too far over the edge. A site with “card” or “poker” in its name should remember its focus and the audience that relies on it.
It is understandable that poker media sites, especially those based in the United States, have been hemorrhaging money since Black Friday. The loss of so much advertising from global poker sites, combined with the frustratingly slow progress of online poker in America that hinders advertising from that industry, has hurt poker media tremendously. BLUFF even shut down over the summer. So when DFS companies knock on the door with advertising money, of course they’re going to open the door.
Just destroyed all my televisions & locked myself in a dark closet. Your move, Draft Kings marketing department.
— Brad Willis (@BradWillis) September 15, 2015
However, that advertising is slowly beginning to compromise the content of the sites. As evidenced above, audiences are beginning to find more DFS articles than poker content, and the majority of poker fans are going to lose interest. Some revel in the DFS coverage, but many readers will be lost, and no new ones will take their places.
Since the legality of fantasy sports betting is in the midst of great debate at the moment, and its future in the United States market is dubious, it may not be a smart decision to alienate poker fans for DFS money. In the short term, it will benefit the poker media. In the long term, however, poker may be left with a chip and a chair when DFS fades from the limelight.