One of the biggest decisions in casino affiliate marketing is which vertical to choose. The two main choices (although not the only choices, of course) are casino and poker affiliate marketing.

What’s the difference? Well, the nature of the games themselves, of course. Casinos offer a huge variety of games, from card games like poker and blackjack to table games, slots, betting, and a lot more. Most online casinos also offer poker rooms, but poker websites usually offer poker only. So poker affiliate marketing can be defined as a more specific version of casino affiliate marketing. But don’t be mistaken: It’s also the bigger vertical in terms of traffic and popular interest.

So, although there’s a great deal of crossover, marketing to an online poker audience is different than marketing to an online casino audience. Here’s how to tell which one is for you.

Keyword strength
In terms of short-tail keyword strength, Poker is a more searched-for term than casino, but both enjoy strong numbers:

Casino affiliate marketing
casino: 16,600,000 global monthly searches
casino casino: 16,600,000 global monthly searches
0nline casinos: 1,500,000 global monthly searches
casinos: 1,500,000 global monthly searches
casino on line: 1,220,000 global monthly searches
online casino: 1,220,000 global monthly searches

Poker affiliate marketing
poker: 24,900,000 global monthly searches
poker online: 1,830,000 global monthly searches
of poker: 1,500,000 global monthly searches
free poker: 1,000,000 global monthly searches
poker free: 1,000,000 global monthly searches

Finding your niche
Of course, keyword strength isn’t as important here as which vertical you feel more comfortable with. Which do you know better — online poker rooms, or online casinos? If you had to choose either as a player, which one would you pick?  The answer to that question is the best indicator of what online gaming vertical is best for you, poker or casino.

Location is also a big factor in making this decision. In the United States market, for example, the three biggest online poker sites in 2010 and 2011 — PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and — have been blocked to American traffic, and their .com domain names seized by the American government. (The sites quickly launched .eu domain names to continue offering services to international players, but American players remain shut out of the action.)

So, if you’re an American affiliate asking yourself the question of which vertical to start out with, casino or poker, you have to take this situation into consideration. Will you be able to find alternate U.S. poker rooms to promote as successfully as these once-dominant brands? Or is the safer and smarter bet to offer casino affiliate marketing at this point, until the American market smooths out?

That choice is up to you — and it’s true that if you’re a die-hard poker fan, you should still concentrate your energies on poker affiliate marketing. Other poker rooms remain open to U.S. players, such as Carbon Poker and Bodog Poker. If that’s your calling, you still have plenty to work with. But if you’re on the fence, and located in the U.S., casino affiliate marketing is probably the right choice for you.

The big switch-over, and cross-marketing
Of course, as we’ve pointed out, these two online gaming verticals have much more in common than other related verticals. So, many affiliates choose to promote both, starting off with the one they’re most comfortable with and then adding the other when they’ve built a forward-moving presence.

“Promoting online casinos is often synonymous with online poker,” according to the Poker Affiliate Programs Blog. “Many major poker rooms realized the cross marketing potential from the early going and built casino game applications into the poker clients themselves.

“Adding a casino to your poker portals allows you to catch the blackjack, roulette and slot players that come to your site searching for online gambling in general.”

That’s a convincing argument in favor of casting a wide net, and promoting both online casino and poker programs. But, you have to start somewhere. And choosing your first vertical should reflect your personal tastes and strengths, as well as the criteria explained above.

Questions? Comments?
As always at the Casino Affiliate Programs Blog, we welcome your comments. If you found something here you particularly agree — or disagree — with, sound off and let us know.

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