With hundreds of entrants in the online poker market, the competition for your attention and deposits must go beyond simply offering a good place to play cards. Anyone can do that! All one needs to do is get enough money together to license the software from a solution provider to get over the technical hurdle. You need more, you need…
Beers proclaim themselves “king” or “president” of beers or imply that good-looking folks will like you if you consume their product. Or they can use celebrity spokespeople. Dearly departed Rodney Dangerfield was a spokesman for Miller Lite for years and was hilarious. Poker sites are following suit and are leveraging paid or coincidental associa- tions with famous poker players. PokerStars, for example, is the site from which the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event ($10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold ’em) champi- ons emerged. Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 champion, was strictly an online player when he invested about $40 in a satellite (qualifying) tournament and parlayed it into $2.5 mil- lion. Greg Raymer, the 2004 winner, was a veteran semi-professional player when he won his place via an online tournament at PokerStars. Elite professional players are the key celebrity spokespeople for the card rooms. UltimateBet, for example, has enlisted several players such as recent $2 million WSOP Tournament of Champions winner Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth, Jr., 1989 WSOP Main Event champion. PartyPoker has World Poker Tour expert commentator and poker pro Mike Sexton in its corner. These folks have their own tables and will at times be available to play with the poker proletariat at an affordable limit, such as $3–$6 Hold ’em.
These benefits are the bread and butter of how one site differentiates itself from the oth- ers. Check the rooms’ sites for specific offers, but here are some general offerings:
✦ Deposit bonuses. New customers will often receive a fixed amount or percent- age of their initial deposit, and existing players will get bonuses for deposits made during promotional periods. It’s free money, so take advantage of it!
✦ Refer-a-friend bonuses. Existing customers are encouraged to bring new cus- tomers into the fold by granting bonuses and/or points toward other benefits to them for each new customer they refer. The new player fills out the form, indi- cating the site that referred them, and both receive their bonuses!
✦ Points toward benefits. An online poker room makes its money from taking a small percentage of the pot each hand (this is known as the “rake”). The more hands played, the more rake comes in to the site’s coffers. Because of this, ac- tive players are able to garner additional perks such as entry into promotional tournaments. Just like in Vegas, the good customers get the good bennies!
Take a look at UltimateBet’s player benefits page in Figure 2.2.