Los Angeles, CA
I was interviewed on the Hardcore Poker Show last night by hosts Chris Tessaro and Rob Pizzo. I had been a guest on Hardcore Poker Show before and I love going on Canadian sports talk radio to drop f-bombs. I only dropped one because I knew my mom was listening. Anyway, Chris and Rob invited me on this week's show to discuss the fallout from Black Friday, specifically how PokerStars is not paying their U.S.-based affiliates for March and April referrals.
My segment starts at the 10 minute mark and lasts for approximately 15 minutes.
Click here to download the Hardcore Poker Show.
Click here to stream the show.
Thanks again to Chris and Rob for having me on.
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If you don't know, I used to be a PokerStars affiliate. I was never considered a super-affiliate like PokerNews who earned in excess of $1 million a month in affiliate revenues, but for a simple blogspot site, I definitely sent PokerStars a significant amount of players and traffic via Tao of Poker since 2004. Alas, our relationship was abruptly and rudely severed on Friday morning, when I received a form letter from PokerStars Partners aka their affiliate department.
We are writing to you regarding your affiliate payments for March 2011 and beyond. Due to the recent steps taken by the United States Department of Justice, PokerStars has had to cease all real money services to customers who are present in the US. In keeping with that obligation, PokerStars has had to cease all promotion of the PokerStars brand in the US. As a result of these actions we regret to inform you that we are unable to pay our affiliates in respect of accumulated fees connected to US traffic delivered.
The decision to withhold payment in respect of US traffic is based on clear legal advice received from PokerStars' external legal advisors and has been taken after much consideration in order to protect all parties involved.
All operations outside of the US will continue as usual and you will receive payment in respect of non-US traffic according to the terms of your agreement.
We do thank you for your hard work in promoting PokerStars and hope that you will continue to support us in the future in driving traffic from outside of the US.
My response is as follows...
After several attempts at contacting you, I finally get a response in the form of generic email. But you never bothered to respond, nor answer legitimate questions and concerns I had about our current and future affiliate relationship. I should remind you I'm not one of those sheeple who swallow every non-edible piece of correspondence that you send them. Do you really think that I'm going to sit back and let you shove this piece of antiseptic, PR-watered down rhetoric down my throat without putting up a shred of resistance?
Let's start from the top. I don't know anyone in poker who addresses me by my given name of "Paul" because everyone, even my enemies, call me "Pauly." The usage of my given name is an immediate flag you never bothered to actually personalize this email. I'd rather it had started off: "Dear Sir/Madam."
For fuck's sake, if you're gonna break up with me, at least take the time to address me properly. When I hear "Mr." attached to my surname, I freak out because I think someone is addressing my father, a United States Marine who taught me never to take shit from pencil-necked, corporate shylocks like yourself. By the way, I spent good money acquiring a certificate from an advertisement in the back of Rolling Stone magazine that clearly states I'm entitled to the title of "Doctor." I have the proper documentation and prefer to be addressed in future correspondences as "Dr." I will also accept: Reverend, Monsignor, and Sir Pauly, even though I don't need the Queen to heave a piece on metal on my shoulder to tell me I'm special and important.
Secondly, your opening sentence is crappy grammar. Believe me, I have the grammar police nipping at my heels all the fucking time, and I usually tell aspiring writers to break as many rules as possible, but in your case, you're supposed to be the most powerful poker company in the world. Use better fucking English. Perhaps you should hired me to write this "break up letter", we wouldn't have this communication problem. Actually, you hiring me to write affiliate break up letters would have been highly ironic in my humble situation because I'd essentially be serving myself my own "piss off" papers. Heck, if you're going to fuck someone in the ass, at least be humane and give me a drop or two of lube.
OK, let's set aside petty grammar issues and get to the crux of your email and argument...
As a result of these actions we regret to inform you that we are unable to pay our affiliates in respect of accumulated fees connected to US traffic delivered.Yeah, yeah, yeah... blame the DOJ. It's easier to pass the blame than to accept responsibility for your actions. So here's my counterpoint -- you're not going to pay affiliates because the DOJ said you had to cease US operations, but why are you not using the same argument to withhold payment to real money players who requested cashouts?
American affiliates did your dirty work during a time of uncertainty in America. I knew and accepted the risks involved, so don't try to scare me with the "DOJ" crap. I'm an American, who paid taxes on affiliate revenues and thereby funded the salaries at the DOJ. At the same time, I (along with hundreds of other loyal affiliates) generated millions of dollars for PokerStars. Even though the money continued to flow in, you continued to squeeze us every few months. And when the heat closed in, you severed all ties with American affiliates. Thanks for the reminder that loyalty is often a one-way street that you tweaked to your advantage.
Just in case I wasn't buying the first line of bullshit, you decided to throw their army of legal eagles under the bus...
The decision to withhold payment in respect of US traffic is based on clear legal advice received from PokerStars' external legal advisors and has been taken after much consideration in order to protect all parties involved.Yep, blame the government... blame the lawyers... but never admit fault! So, let me get this straight... the lawyers told you NOT to pay out affiliates, but to pay out players. Right? Is that what you're saying here? OK, so please provide me with the address of your attorneys, so I can find some closure on this matter and kick a paralegal in the junk.
OK, we're still in disagreement with whether or not I should be paid for March or April. You say, "Fuck you." I say, "Fuck you, pay me."
But before we can even move forward with our (laughable) relationship, I can't even address this...
All operations outside of the US will continue as usual and you will receive payment in respect of non-US traffic according to the terms of your agreement.I sent several emails (before AND after this email) specifically asking about how you intend to pay US-based affiliates for non-US players. I have yet to hear a response. How will you pay us? Not by account transfers because I can't access my account. Paypal? Paper checks? Krugerrands?
Although the majority of the players Tao of Poker sent PokerStars were American, I still corralled a decent amount of non-US traffic. But why would I continue to send you non-US traffic if... 1) you have yet to confirm if/how I'll get paid for non-US players, and 2) you still haven't paid me for March and April referrals.
I'm not asking for much here -- please tell me how you're gonna pay me -- because at the present moment, I don't trust you because you screwed me out of March and April referrals, so how can I be 100% certain you won't do the same for referring non-US players to your site in the future? Do you think I'm that fucking stupid that I'd send you a bunch of Ukrainians and Uruguayan whales, only to not see a cent in referral fees?
This line made me throw my CrackBerry across my office...
We do thank you for your hard work in promoting PokerStars.I don't want an insincere "thank you", I just want my fucking money! I'm not an affiliate for the love of the game for Christ's sake, I'm doing it to make both of us money. I'm a marketing guru, I'm a salesman, I'm a charlatan, I'm a crooked preacher. I'm those things all rolled up into one, but in the end, I sent you thousands of loyal customers. Do you really think the words "thank you" motivates me? I'm just a guy who gets up every day and hopes this world doesn't get any weirder. By end of the day I can't explain why or how, but the world always gets a little weirder and crazier than when I first woke up, which is why I thank the Lord for guiding me through another day in this menacing and unpredictable world.
Your last line of your email is the ultimate 'Fuck You!' with a cherry on top...
...hope that you will continue to support us in the future in driving traffic from outside of the US.Yeah, I traveled the world promoting PokerStars and I would have continued to promote PokerStars wherever I may have roamed... that is... if you paid me what is owed to me! But now since you're being petty wankers and letting U.S.-based affiliates twist in the wind, why the hell would I continue to make you more money when you fail to offer me a single financial incentive in return, especially after you lacked the common decency to give me some lube after you fucked me in the ass?
In the end, I'm pissed at the lack of respect you demonstrated in your form email. You could have salvaged what was left of our relationship by doing the right thing and paying all affiliates the monies owed, but instead you agreed with a bunch of overbilling lawyers and decided to sever all ties with us.
We, your affiliates, were mercenaries left alone on the battlefield. I'm not naive about how the poker industry works. I've rolled up my sleeves and can show you elbow-deep blood stains to prove my blind loyalty. Even in the wake of the UIGEA, I starred down the evil glare from the power brokers in Washington, whispered quotes from Thomas Jefferson as self-affirmations, and courageously stayed on the battlefield to fight YOUR WAR. I don't want a medal. I don't want a parade. I just want my money. And if you're going to cut me loose, look me in the eye next time and hand me the honorable discharge that I deserve. So the last thing I need, is to read is another condescending form email, because all it does is demonstrate that I'm not a valued partner and nothing more than a skeevy crack whore turning tricks on Hunt's Point. But even in the Bronx where I grew up, pimps have some semblance of honor and actually feed their whores.
Yours in Christ,