Posts Tagged ‘Chris Moneymaker’

Inside the Early Days of PokerStars’ Marketing and Insane Budget

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

chris-moneymaker-pokerstars-marketingThese days, PokerStars doesn’t need as much help in the branding department, given that anybody who googles “online poker” will find them on the front page. Furthermore, their reputation and player base dwarf the rest of the market. But like all companies, they were once a little-known brand looking to establish themselves against larger competitors.

However, while PokerStars was short on name recognition in the early 2000s, they were certainly not short on money. Through a very interesting blog post, marketer and poker player Dan Goldman explains his experiences with Stars. Some of the interesting topics that he covers in his blog post include how well-funded Isai Scheinberg’s company was in the beginning, Goldman’s strong belief in Chris Moneymaker and Ben Affleck’s insane demands.

First off, Goldman created a marketing budget for Stars’ first year and told Scheinberg that he’d need $600,000 for year one. Without hesitating, Scheinberg quickly said, “We have the money we need to properly launch this company.”

chris-moneymaker-billboardGoldman also convinced the PokerStars boss that they should invest $30,000 per month in six billboards around the L.A. area. The billboards (see right), featured Chris Moneymaker and read, “How he became a Moneymaker. – Where Poker Players become World Champions.” Scheinberg needed some convincing, instead thinking their money would best be spent on direct response ads, but he eventually caved. And the billboards actually became a huge success.

As for Affleck, Scheinberg wanted Goldman to get him on a cruise ship where Stars would be sponsoring a World Poker Tour event. Initially, Affleck wanted a $1 million appearance fee, which Scheinberg had no trouble with. However, his list of demands grew to the point where he needed to be flown onto the ship, which would require a special permit from Homeland Security. They couldn’t get the permit so, much to Goldman’s relief, the Affleck thing fizzled out and he didn’t have to spend $1.4 million total (or more) on the movie star.

Anyways, the entire post is quite good and there are more stories from Goldman in the blog.

Forbes tabs Jay Farber as 2013’s Chris Moneymaker

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The poker world has yet to find another Chris Moneymaker, who inspired a boom after winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event. And while it doesn’t look like a Moneymaker replica is coming any time soon, Forbes thinks that Jay Farber could come pretty close.

Forbes recently documented Farber’s rise from a Las Vegas VIP host to the runner-up in the 2013 WSOP Main Event. They described how a man with just $2,155 in poker winnings prior to the Main Event worked his way into a position where he could collect a $5,174,357 payout.

Thanks to his big finish and VIP host job, Farber has now been able to rub elbows with some big-time pros and increase his status in the poker world. “I’m lucky to have a lot of support from a number of pro players,” he told Forbes. “My lifestyle and my job has allowed me to meet and become friends with a number of great players, and they’ve been coaching me and offering advice.”

Some of the pros whom Farber is talking about include Ben Lamb, Shaun Deeb, Keith Ferrer and Brent Roberts. And it’s likely that the 29-year-old will continue befriending poker pros along the way.

Now, as Forbers wonders, the big question will be whether or not Jay Farber ingrains himself in the poker world. If so, maybe he can become the amateur to poker star that Moneymaker did a decade ago.

Of course, it won’t be nearly to the degree that Moneymaker inspired, when millions of people took up the game after seeing him win the ME. But based on his interesting day job and new-found poker success, Jay Farber could definitely be an inspiration to new players who are just starting out.

Rounders Sequel may hinge on “Runner, Runner”

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Ever since the 1998 cult classic Rounders was released, many poker players have been interested in seeing a sequel. After all, there are some burning questions that fans of the first movie have, such as the following:

– How did Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) do at the WSOP?

– Did “Worm” (Edward Norton Jr.) do anything worthwhile with his life?

– Is Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich) still hustling players in his card club?

– Did Joey Knish (John Turturro) ever grow the “stones to take a shot?”

Well our chances of having these questions answered may all depend on the success of a more current movie in Runner, Runner. The thriller, which centers on the shadier side of the online poker industry, has currently grossed $31,106,712 – just above its $30 million production budget. When its subsequent weeks and DVD sales are factored in, Runner, Runner could end up showing a profit against the $30m budget and undisclosed advertising/promotion costs.

If you’re wondering why a Rounders sequel hinges so much on Runner, Runner, it’s because writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien have a hand in both films. This duo wrote the original Rounders, and they also came up with the script for Runner, Runner. Assuming this anti-online poker flick takes off, it could convince investors that Koppelman/Levien’s Rounders II concept is worthwhile. The pair commented on this matter by telling PokerNews the following:

We do, however, have the story for Rounders II worked out, and all the actors and the director of the first film are ready to come do it. It’s a matter of the companies who control the rights getting behind it and allowing it to happen.

What’s really cool is to hear that the guys who made the first Rounders so great – Damon and Norton – would be ready to come out and do a sequel. Now we just have to wait for the Hollywood politics and financials to play out before Rounders II becomes a reality.

Chris Moneymaker talks Possible Full Tilt Sale, Improving his Game

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Unlike some WSOP Main Event champions, Chris Moneymaker has really withstood the test of time. Once a little-known account from Tennessee, the 2003 Main Event champ has carved out a very nice poker career for himself.

Moneymaker recently sat down with PokerListings to discuss how he’s managed to stay in the game so long, as well as the possibility that Full Tilt Poker could be sold soon.

In regard to the latter, Moneymaker was asked if he thought Full Tilt was struggling. He certainly doesn’t believe this is the case after citing the poker room’s sheer size. But he did say, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Full Tilt is sold off eventually.”

As for the potential buyer, the poker pro believes that a major land-based casino could make the investment. “No, it would rather be a brick-and-mortar casino like Caesars.” He continued by saying, “Any big, affluent casino that can afford to pay $950 million or whatever it’ll cost. Personally, I think that buying Full Tilt was an ingenious move. PokerStars gets lucky in spots, but they also make pretty good decisions.”

Like we mentioned before, Moneymaker has been steadily improving his poker skills over the years. He’s recently received a boost after hiring fellow pro Calvin Anderson to coach him. “Yes, I’m actually speaking to him more than ever. Only the other night we had a five-hour conversation,” he said. “I’m very happy with my game at the moment, all I need is some results coming in. I didn’t get very lucky in coin flip or similar situations lately.”

Moneymaker also offered some advice for aspiring poker players. He said, “If you’re a recreational player, you’re probably better off with a training site that shows video and teaches strategy. But if you want to take it to a professional level, investing money to improve your game is definitely worth it. I know players who haven’t improved in 15 years and the reason is that they’ve never really tried.”

Even 10 years after winning a WSOP Main Event, Chris Moneymaker is still working hard and getting better. This being said, we can expect the famed pro to stick around for many years in the future.

Backlash over Online Poker Player Pool Segregation

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

The idea of catering to recreational players is nothing new in the online poker world. Bodog started this trend last year when they unveiled their “Recreational Player Model,” which prevents grinders from using data mining software on opponents. Months later, the Everleaf Gaming network took things a step further by preventing players who made over €750 a week from facing losing players.

As if this wasn’t going far enough, it was recently discovered that Party Poker have been segregating their players based on win rate – without officially telling anybody. So winning players have been unable to see losing players in the lobby, meaning they can only play against other regs and winners.

This latest move has really set the online poker community off with many pros voicing their complaints. A big thread recently opened up at TwoPlusTwo where various members have argued both sides of player segregation.

Two of the main arguments against player segregation are that it specifically targets winning players and seeks to create a break-even environment. The latter is key because players who compete against those with similar win rates will generally trade money back and forth while paying lots of rake in the process. The end result is that online poker sites are the only true winners from this scenario.

The big arguments for segregating grinders are that more recreational players will be encouraged to stick around after depositing, and bumhunters won’t be able to target weaker opponents all of the time.

As you can see, there are good points both for and against player segregation. But in my opinion, there may be no real winner after segregation has taken its course. Going further, it seems as if Party Poker and Everleaf are merely grasping at straws as online poker slowly loses more players each month.

It’s hard to say what the solution to a declining worldwide online poker player pool is – short of another Chris Moneymaker-type or federal legalization in the United States. So for the time being, it looks like we’ll have to let online poker segregation run its course and see what happens.