'Poker Agents' really divide opinion in the poker community, some think they are invaluable and others think they are pointless. Poker Agent Nick Ferro talks to us about what players looking for sponsorship should expect from poker agencies and how to approach them.
Being a Poker management agency, we receive many emails from players wanting to get sponsored, amazingly I would say at that point as many as 90% have already failed; pitching for a sponsorship is no different to a job interview or submitting a CV to an employer– first impressions count and you need to excel from the beginning.
Remember Agencies only get paid when a deal is done, so it could be 3 -4 months of negotiating, emails, phone calls before anything is agreed, plus most payments don’t materialise until months later. This means at least 6 months of time and effort is used and of course there is STILL no guarantee, so any poker agent will want to make sure their latest client is a worthwhile investment on time and resources
A few players feel an agent’s percentage can be on the high side, but many players forget the time and effort spent arranging interviews, chasing payments, contract negotiations etc. Agencies market to TV shows and poker tours meaning they can add substantial value to a players deal; last year one of our clients received $20,000 in tournament buy-ins just to show up and play in addition to this he had 3 invitations to premier TV shows, this netted him a further $50,000 and further to that negotiated 40% more on the original sponsor offer . Some Players want to go it alone and in some cases a very good idea, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a 5 minute job there is lot to consider:
Are you organised? – Emails and requests from sponsors, this is always a priority and they expect prompt, concise responses, Interviews from magazine and websites will expect the same.
Communication skills – In our experience most players struggle in this area, so ask yourself this - are you a good talker? are you good with communicating an idea? Are you easily able to get your point across in conversation and email? are you able to mediate effectively, do people regularly misinterpret your tone over email or text..all this is very important.
Is it worth my time? – Spending 10 hours a week on administration, when you could be playing poker is probably not the best use of your time – saving $10,000 a year could be costing you $10,000 a day!!!! – Do the math is it +EV for you to be spending your time doing this work?
Leave it to the professionals: Generally Sponsors take agencies more serious, they know the agency will have good market knowledge, can compare other sponsor offers – but most importantly the agency will usually have an existing relationship. A poker player would never enter a poker tournamanent not knowing the rules or competition, so why step into the unknown world of sponsorship without any experience?
Finding an Agency: When working with an agency make sure they have a similar vision and aspirations to yours, a good rapport with the agent is crucial as you’ll spend lots of time talking on email and phone and possibly on the road.
Look at their fees and percentages, most good agencies will charge between 10-20%, evaluate if the fee is good value for money and you’re comfortable with the percentages? The is best way to get honest feedback is talk to their existing client base; this will give you a realistic review of the agency. Finally make sure you agree a contract –clear terms and conditions is a sure fire way of keeping things concise and professional it also protects you and the agent ensuring that everything runs smoothly
Do you fit the bill? Winning 3 SNG’s in a row and the local £20 rebuy will not get you a deal; Have you had a string of final tables at prestigious LIVE national or world renowned events?, are you starting to creep into the leader boards for online or live rankings, have you played poker for a living for a number of years?. These are a few of the questions you should be asking yourself before getting involved with an agency
Dress for the Job you want: Do you present yourself professionally? We are not talking about wearing a 3 piece suit or a top hat and tails, but if you look like you just slept under a hedge, it could put off potential sponsors – remember when you turn up to Monte Carlo or Las Vegas, you are a representative for that brand. Again we are not talking about turning up clean shaven, leather handmade Gucci’s, manicured nails just make sure you have a quick look in mirror and ask the question “Do I look presentable”
Attitude: With any professional sport it’s not just about playing skills you possess, brands are looking for that extra edge and the more boxes you tick the greater chance you have of fulfilling that pro deal. Players can tend to be very laid back (almost horizontal), late for appointments, unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls, this will instantly put off potential sponsors. SOME Poker players think they are second to God, I have seen numerous professional players turning up to radio and TV interviews 2-3 hours late...even drunk, leaving other participants and camera crew waiting. Another great one is being arrogant to press and magazines.
Phil Hellmuth may go a little OTT on the entrances, but he is very entertaining, whether you’re laughing with him or at him! Have some drive and personality, we are not all born with charisma, however it costs nothing to be enthusiastic, and smile once in a while and be polite. The majority of players are cool and accommodating, whilst some are just plain rude - the poker community is small and Word travels fast, think before you speak (If you dont believe me, search for 'What not to say at a poker awards ceremony' on YouTube).
We are firm believers in talented players that is always the biggest factor and it will be to your prospective employer, but always remember that if you can tick every other box along the way you give yourself a bigger edge.
Nick Ferro is the CEO of CheckRaiseManagement.com