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To Whale or Not to Whale? The Pros and Cons of High Rollers

Affiliates are of a mixed mind when it comes to the subject of those high-rolling depositors known as whales and whether or not marketing to that demographic is worthwhile. While whales are more than capable of bringing in big revenue streams, their erratic behavior can be quite costly.

If you’re not sure on where you sit on the subject of whales, here are some things you’ll want to consider.

Your Whale is My Guppy

Just exactly who qualifies as a whale varies greatly depending on what segment of the gaming public you’re chasing. A poker player who deposits $25 three times a week could be a whale for some affiliates. Other affiliates might not start using the whale label until a customer starts making four or five figure deposits.

Site operators who are hoping to get a slice of whale blubber of their own need to temper their expectations before heading out sea. Those free spending players that ride private helicopters to the Bellagio are not likely to be sitting at home playing online slots. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find big players who are going to make depositing large sums a frequent habit.

The real question for affiliates is how much effort they want to spend chasing the whale market and whether or not those efforts are worthwhile.

Pros and Cons of Whale Hunting

Whales that frequent online gaming sites are strange and erratic creatures that aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Site operators should think long and hard about the good and bad aspects of this market before chasing after them.


  • Big depositors are more likely to lose big amounts; it’s as simple as that.
  • Because they have more to spend, whales are more likely to keep playing, and depositing.
  • Whales swim in packs. Once you start building a reputation as a whale-friendly site, you’ll start seeing more and more of them.


  • Whales not only lose large amounts, they’re capable of winning large amounts, too. This can put your revenue stream in serious jeopardy.
  • These players are known for being very erratic. That whale who deposited a thousand dollars this morning may pack up and be gone by nightfall.
  • Catering to whales can come at the expense of regular, more reliable customers who might not feel like they’re your ideal customer.

Whale-Friendly Content

If you’re truly interested in turning whales into depositors, you’ll need to come up with high quality content that caters specifically to their demographic. But since whales come in all shapes and sizes, it’s best to target your content to a specific segment of the whale market.

Affiliates who primarily work with sports books will want to familiarize themselves with the demographics of various fan bases.

For example, content that’s centered around the national soccer teams from Dubai and United Arab Emirates is going to appeal to a more prosperous demographic than a game preview for the University of Idaho Vandals football team.

With a little research, affiliates should be able to identify specific sports, teams and games that attract high worth players.

Just remember that radical changes to your site’s content may wind up alienating the customers who are most valuable to you in the long run. Those folks who come for football betting advice might not be so interested in reading about Kuwaiti soccer.

The Long Tail

Affiliates who are considering going into the whale hunting game might want to take a step back and consider a business concept known as the long tail.

In short, the long tail theory states that businesses are better off catering to large numbers of customers who make small, but regular, purchases over time instead of a few customers who make big purchases.

This idea should hold some weight for affiliates who rely on repeat customers. After all, there are a lot more players who deposit $100 every few months than players who deposit thousands every week.

If you step back and look at the big picture you might realize that whale hunting might not be as lucrative as scooping up handfuls of guppies.

Chasing whales can be worthwhile if you really know what you’re doing. But for most affiliates, the best play is to go after players who are most like the person they look at in the mirror every morning. Site operators who play to their strengths are going to be far better off in the long run.

Site operators should take a lesson from Captain Ahab in the classic “Moby Dick” and not hunt whales at the expense of smaller, more reliable gamers.

Do you think that chasing whales are worth the effort? Let us know in our Chasing Whales forum thread!