Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Poker Affiliate Business Update

Since starting my new business blog is a mere entry on my (very long) 'to do list' at the moment, I thought it was time for an update on the poker business.

One thing to note is that there is more movement towards regulation in the US than before, to my mind there is some momentum forming on various fronts. Barney Frank and (yet another) new bill, a couple of 'skill game' rulings in individual states, California taking briefings on their own and a more widespread understanding that there are tax dollars out there waiting to be collected... will 2009 be the year? Who knows, not basing any business decisions on it yet but becoming more hopeful as the year progresses.

Talking of years progressing (we were?)... The Planet Corporation is off to a great start, and I mean really great!

Our limited liability company is now in formation... by the end of the month we will be known as 'Planet Corporation Kft' (Kft being the Hungarian version of LLC in the US, LTD in the UK etc etc). Wanted a 'big' name and one that was not restricted to poker - since we have many many plans outside of that sphere.

Anna and Vera are settling into their roles and we are trying to transfer as many of Erika's website building / SEO skills over as possible. This will free up Erika to do some of the higher value-add tasks such as improving geo-targeting, analytics work and even better SEO! We are planning to take on one more person in a month or two who speaks Romanian and Hungarian to create even more sites in this area!

So, here is a site-by-site summary as in previous months (some links top right to see them!)

Sit And Go Planet: We just launched the Romanian version.... 100 pages all at once, making it (as far as we can tell) the single biggest SNG / MTT strategy collection in that language! Always feels great to launch a new section, then kind of flat while Google catches up with the indexing / ranking, oh well. We are working hard on new content, seo (particularly for the Russian version) and now have a Polish translation underway too... this will continue to be our main site and we will be working hard to improve as we go - now over 1000 visitors per day which is a nice psychological milestone.

Omaha Planet: Another one which we have added content to, visitors are rising nicely as are some of the rankings... was thinking of selling this at one point but seeing more potential now. Still intend to write an ebook for this one at some point... not a highest priority at the moment though. Considering translations too.

Poker Bonusz Klub: This started life as our Hungarian bonus portal... nothing too fancy just 40 pages of reviews and bonus comparisons (with 10 or so decent strategy articles too). Visitors up (low numbers but very targeted)... the big news here is that we should have the Russian version completed this week - and the Romanian version the week after. Again the new ones will take a while to get ranked etc (link building required) so more jam for tomorrow.

Rakeback-Planet (with the dash!): Revamp has slipped a little, should get it done over the next week or two. Really want to have this in a decent state so we can get it translated...

Killer Holdem: No idea what to do next with this one... except point some of the pages at Rakeback-Planet when the latter is revamped.

Melted Felt: Was doing great but dropped by Google yet again at the moment.... whenever this happens the visits drop massively and so does my motivation to post there. Still the last 2 drops (yep, 3rd f ing time) only lasted a few weeks!

Plan3t Gong: Still planning on changing this blog to be more 'outward looking' rather than writing about myself too much!

New Projects In The Pipeline:

Durrrr Challenge - Managed to pick up 2 totally targetted blogger blogs for this (one with 3 r's and one with 4!) and will be sorting out the content over the next week or so for these, the biggest buzz around deserves a quality tracking service.

PBN: An acronym at the moment for our new project which should start to see the light of day in April(ish). We will be targeting bonus type keywords but with a slightly different twist!

CC: Another acronym, this time for our casino site - determined to get a start in this huge market and will be creating at least one 'mini-site' next month, we will then aggressively translate into Central EU / Russian languages and add from there. Want to grow a casino portal eventually but aware that we could lose the focus on poker if we go too fast here... need for balance.

Well, thats the state of the Planet Corp for the moment - always happy to speak with anyone interested in the poker business... the benefits of working together with supposed competitors usually beat the costs!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SNG Grinders Who Became Poker 'Names'?

More of a question than anything else today. I wanted to write a piece on players who started of with SNGs... then went on to become poker names.

Chris Moneymaker had his own 'SNG strategy' at some point*... but I can not recall him being a grinder (or even regular player) at any point - same for Chris "Jesus' Ferguson.

* Would not recommend it now, horribly out of date!

The people who spring to mind are:

- RainKahn (Jared whats-his-name-Kahn) who famously did the 24 table video at the time when 6 tables was considered a lot!
- John 'PearlJammer' Turner used to grind the $16's if I recall correctly... doing pretty well for himself these days... but not really a 'name' quite yet imo.
- Eric 'Sheets' Haber is a SNG expert without a doubt.... but was he a grinder at any point? Not so sure.

Anyway - I'm stuck - think that a nice list of 10 or so would name a fantastic (and possibly motivational!) article.... anyone help me out with a few more suggestions here??

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, February 23, 2009

Motivation On A Monday Morning... For Poker / Business / Life

Probably mentioned before that I have a love / hate view of a website known as the Warrior Forum. It is an internet marketers board (or rather the internet marketers board), in which making $$$ is the main topic of discussion.

It is full of spammers, scammers, hopefulls, newbies and fools with the occasional successful business owners - who hang out mainly to sell 'how to make money' ideas / ebooks / coaching to those mentioned above!

So Mark - Why Read It??? (I hear you all ask!)

Well, occasionally there is a nugget there, a piece of info, a link to a site a seemingly unrelated idea - something that I can bring into my own business and will contribute to my success.

Today I found a post which was so good I found myself nodding along, it concerns our mindset and the trap of thinking too small. It concerns the fact that if our goals are too narrow (or shallow) then our actions focused on reaching those goals will also be limited. It concerns how to break out of this cycle and get the success you really deserve.

Whether you play poker for a living, run an online (or any other) business or just have aspirations to break out of your current limited life I suggest you read the post. If your goal is to move up to $2 / $4 by the end of the year then why not aim for $5 / $10 instead, if you want your poker affiliate business to reach $10k then why not aim (and truly aim) for $50k instead?

Anyway - here is that link.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SNG Strategy - Regulars And ROI

Interesting thread over at 2+2 today... a poster making a great effort to quantify the effect of winning 'regulars' in SNG tournaments.

Alert Plan3t Gong regulars will spot that this is an old favourite area for me, and in fact I have been banging my head on the brick wall of saying that good table selection has become necessary (at least at Stars and Tilt) for some time now. We even did a SNG Planet article on the subject some time back.

Here is the link:

Gl at those tables, Mark

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Best Poker Bad Beat Story Could Win You $1000!

First up on the new 'outward looking' Plan3t Gong an opportunity to trade your best poker bad beat story for a cool grand.

This is being run by established affiliate Roger - owner of Compatible Poker - and is not only great fun but great linkbait too!

You will find the details at the Compatible blog:

Not sure that having those aces cracked alone will win the prize... if you can come up with a good 'human angle' in there then who knows?!? Alas I have a personal 'no bad beat story' policy - so will not be entering myself!

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Direction For PG Poker!

Unusual eh? No posts here for a week!

Well, there was a good reason for this - even though it lead to a bit of 'bloggers anxiety' (that feeling of mild guilt that I had not posted!). It is time for a brand new direction for Plan3t Gong, and I wanted to give myself some space to think it through.

Here is the bottom line: Poker is now my 'work' and not my hobby. Running and growing a poker business is a 12 hour a day endeavour for me... I am growing a business that will run without me in the medium-term. Those who play / coach / write professionally I admire your spirit and skills, yet when you stop working your income also stops - 10 years in a blue-chip taught me to avoid this trap and everything I now do is focused on creating a passive income in 2 to 3 years time. When you spend this much time involved in poker what is the last thing you want to do with your liesure time? You guessed it!

Some Good News! My work means spending time involved in poker news, views and strategy... and I plan on passing the fruits of this labour to readers here. This will involve linking out to more articles which are not my own. In the spirit in which Plan3t Gong was created these will be the kind of articles that make people think (oh, will also include those with the potential for increasing my readers profits of course!).

More Good News! Personal and business updates will move to a new blog, in plan for creation at some point next month... this will be a broad business blog and focus on poker and other areas which we are looking at + a little humor and stuff on my new hobby ('creative' photography!). Stay tuned for an announcement here.

Even More Good News! Announcements of new strategy articles / information on my growing network of sites will still feature here... we are aggressively pushing into new markets at the moment and expect 2 new sites, a revamp of our rakeback site and the Romanian Version of SNG Planet all to come out in the next few weeks.

For any Romanian readers here is a preview (the final proof-read / checking + validation this week so not quite perfect yet.)

So, plan is to try and get the new direction going as soon as possible - so watch out for more posts this week!

PS: 1 year smoke free... ship it!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Which Bluff Came First - Absolute Beginners

An interesting situation came up in the Plan3t office yesterday. As regular readers will know we recently took on two very bright employees with language skills to help with aggressive expansion plans into Central / Eastern Europe and Russia.

Since it was Friday, and neither of the ladies had played poker before we broke out for a quick 'beginners lesson', kind of an introduction to how to play no-limit Texas Holdem starting from zero...

It was both fun and a challenge...

Where do you start? With the poker hand rankings? With the starting hand selection? With the mechanics of who acts when? Explaining what the 'blinds' are and how you can make people fold? Actually it is not as easy as it sounds... most of what you will find on the web assumes you at can at least follow a hand - and this was speaking with people who had never played a hand in their lives of any form of the game.

So, the Titan 1c / 2c blind game was our venue and I explained how the winning hand was constructed and how to bet / fold etc. The ladies then took turns and managed (by luck more than judgement) to turn our initial $2 buy-in into a hefty $3.01c before we finished.

An interesting - and thought provoking - situation occoured, we had played q8 off from early position (hehe) and missed the flop against a single caller. I reccommended a bluff bet on the flop representing something or other... and it worked, fine. One of the ladies then asked - What does it mean to bluff? Is a bluff in poker the same as a bluff in real-life?

Of course the answer is yes, the meaning is indeed the same.

What I thought was that this term actually came from poker into the world - rather than the other way around. It was interesting to see that poker terminology has become so pervasive in society that someone who knows nothing at all about the game can use it without realising its origin. This lady is extremely intelligent BTW, it is not that something was 'missed' here - more a refreshing perspective of someone whose life had not (yet!) been touched by poker.

Plenty of other terms out there too!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Affiliate Business - Poker Spam - A Different Perspective

Post concerned with the poker business today - triggered by various discussions and viewpoints over the past months on some of the larger poker affiliate forums. Hopefully this at least provides some 'food for thought' in that direction... if you are a player / blog reader and not interested in the ethics of international spamming then the post below this one 'are the games getting tougher' may be of more interest!

Anyway... here is an example adapted (+link removed!!) from a spam blog comment received yesterday, nothing special about it - just wanted to set the scene a little.

Online Poker Game offer you virtual way of enjoy poker game through the Internet. Though a bit difficulty, this game can be masterful in due course. Online players can number of times until they feeling they have mastered the game.

Horrible huh?

I am sure that anyone would agree the huge number of 'respun' articles, auto translated Chinese websites filling up the long tail of the SERPS and spam forum posts and comments in this horrific broken language are a scourge on our industry!!

Now, maybe then someone can explain this....

Many otherwise reputable poker webmasters, folks from my own home country (England), the US and Canada (to name the 3 largest), people who produce quality information and interesting value-added websites, people who would never think of themselves as spammers are exactly that - spammers.

Here is why, they are taking their content, making new directories and using automated tools to translate this, creating - in multiple languages - exactly the kind of rubbish / spam which I gave you an example of above.

Yet, in the eyes of many this is perfectly acceptable behaviour.... why is this?

- Some have a perspective that they are 'helping out' those countries who have little strategy / bonus code knowledge by auto translating.

- Some have the perspective that it is somehow different to spam a 'foreign' country than it is to spam the US / UK / wherever.... that this somehow 'does not count'.

- Some have the perspective that it is a 'no-lose' since any resident of the county spammed who takes offense and refuses to visit your 'brand' again does not matter.

My perspective is the logic which leads otherwise reputable webmasters to become blatant spammers is twisted, shallow and - well to be honest on exactly the same class level as the Chinese (not picking on that country specifically, just an example) who attempt to black-hat their way up the search-engines with their broken English.

Fellow affiliates, I call on you to stop spamming.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Are SNGs Getting Tougher?

Just sent out a rather long newsletter to SNG Planet readers... the subject is whether SNGs are getting tougher (sounds familiar eh, well people have been saying it since I started playing!).

Anyway - will not publish all the newsletters here (you can sign-up over at SNG Planet and get the 'Comedy Of Errors' Version 2 at the same time!), but thought this might be worthy of some discussion.

Note: Lost the original formatting when I pasted into blogger - bah!


Forums, blogs and articles all over the internet are coming up at the moment with the same theory - that the SNGs are getting harder.

In this newsletter I'd like to examine this in a little more depth, first looking at the possible reasons for this perception and then making some suggestions as to how we might profitably adapt. After all, poker is one of those games where standing still for too long can damage your wealth!

Just took a quick look at Poker Stars SNGs lobby. This shows that for the $6.50s there are 5 tables each with 4 players, for the $16s there are more tables with the following pattern 7, 5, 5, 4, 4, 2,2, 1, 1, 1, 1. The $27s and $60s similar.

This shows something significant.

It shows that the tables are already full with players who like to play several tables. Recreational players will join the 'fullest' table available - yet even at the smaller buy-ins there are several people at each table waiting to be filled.

While it does not always follow that these are winning opponents you should work on the assumption that they are at least somewhat able.

The profits of the past used to be split between 1 or 2 reasonable players. Now people appear to be fighting for scraps, with 5 or 6 grinders after the ev that 3 or 4 new players will spew - and we all know that variance can make this a long wait.

Reliable sources have suggested that the $50+ levels are even worse, often with 6 to 8 regulars on each table. This is repeated at Full Tilt, that other home of high-volume SNG Play.

The question is what has happened here?

After all the dynamics of the poker economy usually mean that the grinders leave if the games drop below a certain profitability level.

In my opinion we have a mixture of reasons. Training sites is one, and of course strategy sites such as are partially to blame! ICM used to be a niche and is now mainstream, the pushbot game is standard and the early spew of chips now comes from a smaller percentage of opponents.

What has happened is that the highest games have got tougher, which has lead the former $60 level players to move down - at the same time as the training material available has given the masses the ability and confidence to multi-table the lower levels. What you are seeing is a SNG squeeze - from the bottom as well as the top.

All very nice to have theories Mark, but how about some solutions? (I hear you all say!)

Well, let us break down the options. To my mind there are 3 possible ways to bigger profits here, all of them require a little effort, but all should pay you handsomely in the long run.

Beating Tougher Games #1 - Get Better Than Other Winners!

I know, I know, you are already a winner, sharkscope graph and all, that is great but think about this: What are you doing over-and-above the opposition? What are you doing to get a real edge over those players who already know about push / fold poker, who do not play easily dominated hands out of position early? Who are trying to put YOU on a range?

Here are some suggestions:

- If you do not already know it ICM has become a basic, even if you do not plan on using it yourself (and I recommend you do!) it is very important to understand what your opponents are doing - or how canyou adjust your own strategy to beat them?

Start Here: Poker ICM Introduction

- Following on from this 'Default Ranges' are no longer enough above the very lowest levels. If you are not analyzing ALL of your push / fold decisions after a session then you are going to get left behind. I still recommend SNG WIZ as the premier tool for this - you can get a 30 day free trial via the link below:

30 Day Free Trial Of SNG WIZ

- Next Level Thinking: Equilibrium in your ranges is becoming more and more important. Your opponents are adjusting to what they perceive as your pushing range... that is to say they are putting you on a range and adapting their play (just as you are). The next level is to adjust your range to the NEW calling range of your opponents -if they know you are doing this they will re-adjust and so on. Get SNG Wiz and run through this scenario - if nothing else it will open your eyes (and game!) to how dynamically the push / fold game can change against aware opponents.

30 Day Free Trial Of SNG WIZ

**Whew - long newsletter - stick with me though, the best is yet to come!**

Beating Tougher Games #2 - Better Table Selection

Time to be honest with yourself, how much profit does playing against other winners really cost you?

Most players would say a couple of percent, if that. They would be wrong. It can cost you a lot of real hard currency over even a small sample of games. Want to know more? Then check out the article where we worked it all out...

ROI vs Winning Regulars

Now, you can avoid these winners quite easily right? By waiting 10 minutes to start your set when there are 4 or 5 people registered for all of your preferred games.

Why then do so few people suggest, or for that matter ACT on this info?

Baffles me!

Beating Tougher Games #3 - Other Sites!

I have never understood the 'stickiness' of some poker players. Stars is the best poker site in my opinion too... yet playing there exclusively would be a very BAD decision for my poker profits, and yours. The same goes for Full Tilt, UB and anywhere else you play at as a matter of habit or familiarity.

Step back and ask yourself whether seeing your bankroll shoot up would compensate YOU for the minor hassles of changing sites and moving that money around now and again to grab the latest offers.

For me it is a no-brainer, here are some suggestions:

For US Readers:

1) Bodog - SNGs So Soft You'll Be Shocked!
Review:Bodog Poker Review

2) Cake Poker - Ban On Datamining And Stats Software Keeps the Grinders Away!
Review:Cake Poker Review

For Non-US Readers:

1) Red Kings Poker - OnGame Network, Home Of The Recreational Masses! (really, this one is a must see in 2009!)

Review:Red Kings Poker Review

2) Titan Poker - iPoker Get Our Vote As The World's Fishiest PokerGames!

Review:Titan Poker Review

My message should be clear, the games go through phases of being tough and weak. At the moment there is a double-squeeze going on, making them tougher than normal. The good news is that you have it in your power to change things around fast... all it takes is action,not tomorrow - now!

Your feedback is always welcome at: Support (at sign)

Until next time GL at those tables,Mark

PS: Not tomorrow - Now!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Defeated By A Poker Book + Romanian Full Steam Ahead!

Well, for the first time ever I have puffed out those cheeks, sighed, and put down a poker book before getting anywhere near the end.

Yes - 'The Mathematics Of Poker' has defeated me 2-0 in the final minute to keep it's title hopes alive, and is destined for the 'what the f was all that about then' pile. Maths has never been my strongest point. Can do mental arithmetic pretty fast etc but anything which involves a formula just causes me to blank.

Ah well, plently more books in the sea, or something.

Another busy week ahead (going to stop writing this every week - it can become one of those silent assumptions a bit like the 'Of course you are 100% right and I am wrong' silent proviso which comes in front of everything I say to the better half!). This week will see the final pages of the Romanian SNG Planet completed... then just a matter of having the final checks done next week before we can go live.

Keen to get this one up and running since there is quite a backlog of new projects building up including some more poker bonus club versions and a revamp of rakeback-planet (with the dash!) + multi-language versions of that one too.

Anyway, with all this work to do I'd best get on!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tournaments, Supernovas and Che Guevara

General update today, got to Silver Star for the first time in a while, used to be a regular Silver / Gold so shows how little time I have dedicated to the game lately.

In fact made it just in time to join the $20k weekly Silverstar freeroll along with 6000 odd others (finished 300ish for a whopping $18!!), similar finish in the $3 rebuy, yeah yeah, said I would not play it again but could not resist the fun in the first hour - min raising pre every hand, donk betting 50 into a pot of 1000 etc etc. Got my money in good on both exit hands even while steadily drinking as the tourneys went on... so no complaints there.

Anyway one observation and one rant...

Played a mix of $16 and $6.50 SNGs to accumulate those FPPs... surprising amount of people with supernova displayed on their icons, even at the $6.50 level. Do not quite get this, how many of these mind-numbing one table tournaments would they need to have played??? (also why display and give away the info - but that is for another post).

My rant concerns seeing a couple of Stars pics with Che Guevara displayed on them... this is something I just do not comprehend at all. Maybe someone can tell me what a political icon who stood up for South America's poor and against the establishment, promoted Marxism (yes, Marxism for fucks sake!) and was not afraid to use weapons to further his cause has to do with online poker???

I mean, c'mon.

Undoutedly displayed by some dope smoking self centred greasy kid sitting in his bedroom at his moms house (or in a college dorm paid for by parents)... thinking this is somehow a symbol of their own struggle against a society which 'does not understand'. Shallow. Misguided. Sad.

Anyway, just deleted the next paragraph... at the end of the day I'd prefer to let readers form their own inferences. Funny, you never see pics on Stars of Warren Buffett, George Soros or Donald Trump.... hmmmmm.

GL at those tables, Mark