In today’s, gambling marketing musings column Lee Davy shares the sordid details of his first date with SolveForWhy and why he wants to get much, much, dirtier.
‘Printing money’ was a hackneyed phrase when I joined the poker industry. I tried printing some myself. I must have had a duff press. The first person I heard chucking the words out of his gob was Martin “Dr. Giggy” Fournier Giguère. Dr. Giggy was a lead coach at BlueFirePoker. I met him once at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and was a tad starstruck.
But here’s the thing with online poker training sites back in the day.
You could remove the logo from all of them, jumble them up, replaster them randomly, and nobody would have known the difference. While online training sites had the odd gem of a Giggy, a distinctive brand voice was as rare as mustard on a baby’s sandwich.
I’m glad to report that things are changing.
A few days ago, I received a curated newsletter from the poker training site SolveForWhy. I was about to send it to the trash when something about the copy reminded me of uncle Jimmy’s 70th birthday bash.
During the bash, my kid sister told me of an odd disco experience. Upon arrival, the organisers handed you a set of earphones. On stage there were two DJs, and the music of DJ A or B was sent randomly to your earphones. This noise-free disco allowed people to feel comfortable enough to sing until lungs burst. My sister said it was hilarious to take off your cans and listen to everyone singing, minus the music.
Maybe this is where SolveForWhy got the idea of Poker Out Loud.
Poker Out Loud – The First Date
On the weekend, I went camping in West Wales. Sitting on the beach, I got talking to a Frenchwoman and her friend from Manchester. The pair had been pen pals for the past 15-years.
Long before Tinder was a thing, connecting with strangers via the written word was a thing. It wasn’t unusual to arrange first dates in this way. You would organise to meet at a coffee shop, tell the other half to wear a bright yellow cap or something, walk in, and in the first few minutes, you knew if you had made a big mistake.
In marketing and branding, a company’s content and the copy is the first date with the customer. Matt Berkey and his team’s curated newsletter was my first date. I want to go further. I want to get into Berkey’s pants because I have an inkling spending time with him is going to be spicy.
RunItOnce became the best online training site in the business through par excellence.
Upswing Poker became a legitimate challenger through the personal branding of Doug Polk.
SolveForWhy knew the online training market was crowded. Phil Galfond and Doug Polk are beasts. And online poker was never Berkey’s thing. Instead, Berkey looked for space in the market and found it with an absence of live poker training sites.
Now, given the lack of love in this area, Berkey and the team could have been lazy. They’ve been anything but. They began with the SolveForWhy Academy. Las Vegas-based, tight, niched – it was never going to be a big money spinner.
The lads have their eyes set on expansion.
A subscription site.
Poker Out Loud is a professionally shot live cash game where the players wear soundproof headphones. The aim of the game is instructional, so the players have to share their thought process out loud. If anyone watched the first season of the Global Poker League (GPL), in particular, Daniel “Jungleman” Cate’s infamous battle with Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, you know how incredibly entertaining this can be.
But Poker Out Loud is much more than a fantastic, innovative product.
It screams everything SolveForWhy.
The Personality of SolveForWhy
Your content says a lot about the personality of your company. When I watch, listen to, or read anything from the SolveForWhy crew, I know I am going to be in for a belly full of laughs.
When someone makes me laugh, I trust them.
Trust is a rare commodity in poker.
Also, when it comes to poker training sites, poker jargon can be terrifying. In the Poker Out Loud snippet, I saw in the newsletter, Berkey is battling with Christian Soto when he uses the word merge.
What the fuck does merge mean?
I don’t know, and I write about the game.
But I wasn’t overawed by the terminology. Berkey and the boys give me the confidence to put my hand up and say, “Excuse me, Sir, can you speak fucking English?”
I know it will get a laugh.
I know they will adjust.
They are brash; confident, but not cocky, and this is how you connect with your customers.
SolveForWhy has a bright future.
I’m not sure if they have the patience to be as big as RunItOnce, or care for the controversy to be another Upswing Poker. But if they keep on doing what they are doing, they are going to form a tribe of loyal followers who will buy anything they sell even if they have nothing for sale.