As some of you may have picked up from my Twitter updates I was off to Amsterdam this last weekend for the Casino Affiliate Conference. I wanted to get out and spend some time with affiliates and gain some insight into what a poker room can do to help them.
The conference was at the NH Krasnapolsky which is a beautiful hotel. The massive square outside, walking distance to shops, and proximity to Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District make it the place to be. Uh, it was booked solid so we stayed at the SAS Radisson which was about a 15 min walk down the road. I can think of worse cities to take a nice stroll in.
This was my first affiliate conference. Some of the exhibitors mentioned that the number of affiliates attending was way down and attributed it to the 700 Euros being charged just to get in the door. I guess the folks who can afford to pay 700 Euro to go to an affiliate conference don’t need to go to an affiliate conference to speak with affiliate managers :-)
After an afternoon of pressing flesh, exchanging business cards, and scoring cool booth gear from competitors my colleague and I headed over to the Euro Bar for a few pints. We ran into Josh from Rome Casino. He was with four of the girls he had hired to work the show. I met Amiee and Bianca who turned out to be quite pleasant to talk with. Amiee had been to Los Angeles a few times so I enjoyed the chit chat of talking about my old stomping grounds.
Unfortunately, we had dinner plans at Pasta e Basta so we couldn’t join Josh and crew on the boat trip through the canals. Besides I’m not too sure how keen I am to hop on a boat full of sales guys. Talk about captive audience. The Pasta e Basta thing turned out to be pretty interesting. As one might guess the menu is Italian and they serve a multi-course meal. Between courses the waiters and waitresses sing various songs.
Rick Wampler was in town with Full Tilt Poker so when I got back to the hotel and pinged him he told me to meet him over near the Krasnapolsky for a drink. The one thing they do different in Amsterdam – or maybe it was just the Euro Bar – is that when they close they do if fast. One minute we’re drinking and the next minute we’re being asked to clear out so the staff can go home. I don’t even think they called last orders. So boom, there we were standing in front of the Krasnapolsky with nothing to do. Rick headed back to his hotel and I tried to sneak into the Krasnapolsky to use the restroom. No good. They wanted to see a room key to open the front doors. Damn!
A fifteen minute walk seems like a pretty short distance to travel but when you’ve just been booted from a pub and you’ve got a full bladder a 15 minute walk can be a hellish experience. And because of Dutch architecture there’s no slipping down a little alley and taking the pressure off. The buildings are shoe horned together so your only choices are someone’s doorstep or the canal. That only adds to the distress because you know you’ve got a hard choice if it comes to that.
Anyway, I’m sure everyone will be glad to know everything worked out :-)
Friday was more of the same flesh pressing and after the conference I found a Mexican place for dinner and then crashed out in my hotel until about 11pm. Figuring it was too late to get anything going for the night I just stayed in and got some rest. 888 was supposed to be having some private party that I had gotten myself on the guest list for. I heard from people the next day that the venue was way out in the middle of nowhere and it was packed solid. Hmmm . . . all things considered I think going back to bed was a wise choice.
Saturday I did some shopping on the Kalverstraat. I was still shopping when Wampler pinged me and said he was over at the Euro Bar. Ephro had flown over for the weekend and I was shocked to see him short-haired and shaven. Two things I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. He actually looked human.
We had a few pints, I lost some money on the Grand Nationals (totally rigged), and we walked around the Red Light District. I think when you say something like red light district to most Americans they conjur up some seedy part of town or something plain evil but Amsterdam’s Red Light District – as I mentioned in a previous post when I was there – is fairly tame. If you want pure hedonism then the Patpong district in Bangkok is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel. Amsterdam is more or less families, tourists, and normal folks walking around looking at the girls advertising their services behind some window. There is no blaring rock music, girls walking around half naked, touts grabbing your arm trying to physically drag you into a place that’s going to charge you 200x the normal price for a drink. The worst you see in Amsterdam is the African guys trying to sell you coke.
No, Amsterdam is way too laid back for any of the over-the-top stuff. You just have groups of guys and girls rolling out of coffee houses stoned out of their heads giggling like idiots. You have tour guides with 30 Japenese in tow pointing out prostitutes in the windows and the girls in the tour group giggling like idiots. And you have normal looking families strolling down the canal as the kids point to dildos in the sex shop windows as they giggle like idiots.
Anyway, back to the night out. Rick refused to learn his lesson and got his ass handed to him several times by Ephro on the pool table. He tried to convince us that James Taylor was the greatest folk singer of all time and that we should go with him to go see James Taylor perform in concert but, uh, we declined. A few more pints, a few more pubs, and somehow Rick was back. Did he see James Taylor? I either forget or failed to work up enough interest to ask.
Either way, it was another good night in Amsterdam.
So what did I learn at the conference? Hmmm . . . . well, it did open my eyes to some things. I’ve hung out with poker players and poker bloggers but the casino/poker affiliate is a different breed of cat. One guy I was chatting with told me that in order to start pulling in any sort of real money you have to have your site up for at least a year. He told me about how he’s constantly tweaking and fine tuning his pages to rank higher in the search engines and what a battle it was to keep the visitors flowing into his site. More power to ’em. It’s a lot of hard work so kudos to them for working it so hard.