The online poker training space is one marked more by competition than cooperation, so I was interested by the recent news of a collaborative partnership between PokerStrategy.com and heads-up SNG instructional site HUSNG.com.
The deal will see HUSNG.com provide PokerStrategy with video content every month and in exchange receive access to what many consider to be the largest poker community online.
I spoke with Ryan of HUSNG.com for his insights into the logic behind the deal, the changing online poker landscape and what the partnership says about the future of the online poker training segment.
OPR: What about this partnership made it make sense?
Ryan: From HUSNG’s side, we get to bring some of our best content to a brand new audience. With an audience as large as PokerStrategy, in as many different countries, it’s really great to be working together. Our instructors are also excited that they will be providing a high quality exclusive video once a month to PokerStrategy.
Our thought is that providing our best videos to PokerStrategy once a month will over time grow our own community, as PokerStrategy is a very large and reputable platform that brings in some of the best videomakers in the game.
OPR: How does this partnership fit in with your view of where the poker training segment is heading?
Ryan: I think the most successful poker businesses are learning to work together more than ever before. We’re realizing that keeping guys on exclusive deals where they only show up on one site can be counterproductive towards building a wider reaching audience.
We’re looking at what we do well, and how that might fit with other poker businesses, and vice versa, and it sometimes results in situations where both parties are really adding something to the other. In these situations, the customer really wins. I feel strongly that our partnership with PokerStrategy will fit in with all of the above.
OPR: What do you see as the primary challenges facing online poker training sites?
Ryan: Our own challenges are a bit different I believe from others. Since we operate mainly within the HUSNG community, our challenges involve educating poker rooms about why HUSNGs are far different from HU Cash, making sure game structures are viable and fun for all levels of players, and trying to help grow the game.
I think some of the wider reaching training sites are already facing challenges on how to be unique and how to keep top level talent. You see a site like PokerStrategy that has really come in and made a name for themselves as not only the largest training site in recent years, but the training site with the best videomakers.
That’s not to take anything away from other sites, that certainly have some good instructors, but PokerStrategy has amassed a great collection of video makers, in several different languages, and if I ran a cash game/MTT training site, I would consider it a primary challenge on how to separate myself from them, and come up with an exciting and unique reason for users to choose me.
OPR: What is the next wave of online poker players going to want from sites like PokerStrategy and HUSNG?
Ryan: I think we’re starting to see a demand for higher quality software. If you look at sites like PS and HUSNG, you’ll see that we’ve both begun to really work with and feature some of the top software for various poker game types. In fact, CoffeeHUD was the very first thing that PokerStrategy published from HUSNG.com. And you can see both of our sites feature PokerTracker 4 very heavily, it’s such a great piece of software that our communities really love to use.
Video quality is improving as well. It will no longer fly to just have players open up a session, hit record and talk for 45 minutes. We’re seeing instructors recording several sessions/days to get the right footage, picking out more interesting lessons and really looking towards teaching in more interesting and effective ways. Even our free level videos are more and more becoming focused lessons, with slide shows, hand examples and poker software being reviewed.