John and Kristina Mehaffey of Vegas Advantage join the Knup Sports Show to discuss all things Las Vegas gaming and gambling, from online casinos to blackjack tables on the strip.

 

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show Episode 186. Super excited to be here again with you guys. Um, appreciate you tuning in, giving a little bit of your time to this little old show I like to call Knup Sports Show. It’s almost Christmas. We’re hitting the holiday season, so, actually I’m heading to Tennessee next week for a little vacation. I’m excited to get out of Orlando, Florida and head up to the mountains, head up to Tennessee and enjoy some time away. So, should be good. Today, let’s talk today, we have another special guest. But actually, we have special guests today. I have two people with me, and I’m excited to get to know them myself, and I think you guys are going to enjoy their story and what all they’re up to as well. So, without further ado, I’m gonna go ahead and bring on John and Kristina Mehaffy. John, Kristina, how are you two?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Doing great, Ryan, how are you doing? Thanks for having us.

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

Aw, thank you.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Really good. Excited to have you two on, and, um, yeah, how are you doing? Where are you two living? I think you’re out in wonderful Vegas, right?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Yes. We live in Las Vegas. Been out here about 12 years.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. For us gaming and sports betting, like, fans, man, we’re jealous of you living out in Vegas where the gaming happens.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

It’s not always easy to get accustomed to living here. It takes some getting used to.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Absolutely, absolutely. Well, guys, we’re gonna jump in to Vegas Advantage and what all you’re doing currently, but I’d love to hear a little bit about you two’s past. We always start with understanding, you know, maybe the career paths and things that brought you to where you’re at today, so, John, maybe we’ll start with you and you can kinda tell the story of getting to where you guys are today. I’ll let you kind of run with it from there.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Okay, well, in gaming I started about 20 years ago as a poker prop at America’s Cardroom. Back in those days, and I worked as a prop for a few other sites, and around 2004, I started a rakeback site directory, it was called Rake Rebate Review, and that led to another online poker job, which led to another one, and eventually that landed us here in Las Vegas, and then online poker didn’t really do what we hoped it would, and so we moved on to the casino side of things, and later on, Kristina helped me with a lot of the Las Vegas projects and eventually we became business partners about 3 years ago.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s amazing. That’s really cool. Kristina, how about you, you have anything to add there?

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

Um, my [inaudible] started, I’m a data nerd, um, and if I can put it in a spreadsheet, I love playing with it, so a lot of my involvement started when he was, um, asked to collect different sets of data or whatnot. The one we’re most famous for is the Table Game Survey where we actually count every table on the Las Vegas Strip, and then we expanded to locals casinos downtown. My role was taking all the information he gathered and putting it in a form that could be understood, and um, so putting stuff in the spreadsheets and then, of course, data nerdiness gets ahold of me, and I like to go analyze and make graphs and charts and compare data from years to years, so that’s kind of been my role in the background, and so we actually started taking Vegas Advantage a little more seriously. Um, started as a hobby site, more so for John, a place just to write what was going on about Vegas and things there, and, uh, actually right before the pandemic we decided that we were gonna make it official and expand out, and so I officially joined on, um, to do more than just the data. [Laughs].

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. Sounds like a match made in heaven, I mean, you need these pieces that all fit together to make any business and any operation work, and not only do you have those pieces, but you’re married as well, correct?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

[Laughs]. [Inaudible] it was a crazy thing we were trying, but we knew. [Inaudible]. We had a decade of work on the surveys, and a lot of that historical data would’ve been lost had she not been able to record it and put it and save it, because I would never have been able to take a crack at it.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. That’s amazing. I could talk about the old days forever, I mean the old, you said America’s Cardroom. I’ve got a lot of experience with America’s Cardroom as well, and those were the good old days when poker was booming. Do you miss those days at all, when online poker was really a focal point?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

I really do, and uh, you know, for a while there I was doing it as a job. I was in the restaurant industry. In about 2003, I went to Kristina, and we’d only been married about a year at this point, and I said, “You know, I’m making, I’m losing money by going to work because I’m getting paid 100% rakeback at this poker site and I’m needing to get the players”. So you know, I’m making twice as much playing poker, and it was a tough conversation, you know, we lived in Atlanta and it didn’t have poker anywhere there, so it wasn’t the easiest discussion to have, but she was very supportive. It didn’t require much thought from her. She went, “Well, let me see, okay, well you got it, I see it, so,”. I left my restaurant job and never went back and I’ve always been in gaming ever since, one way or another, whether it’s owning websites or working for the poker rooms, or working for poker affiliates, or poker media.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, the affiliate space, you know, that’s something near and dear to my heart, and I know you had some experience there, and still are, you know, doing some affiliate stuff, but that’s a world we can talk about a little bit later. Right now, I wanna dive into actually, I guess, VegasAdvantage.com, which is your project that you’re really going heavy on right now, it’s your baby. Tell us a little bit about it. I’ll pull it up here, side by side as well, and we’ll scroll through, but tell us a little bit about the site, um, you know, what the goal of it is, how it’s going, all of the above.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Well, it started out as just a place for me to publish a story about a poker room closing, and I already had the domain, and I thought, well this is a good place to put it because I was in between, I had just left a job, and didn’t have anything set up for freelancing, and so, that’s how that started, and we were selling the blackjack and table game surveys to a partner, and after the of January 2020, we decided, why are we doing this, why don’t we build our own business with this work? And so, in February of 2020, she turned in her resignation as a teacher and then, you know what happened in March 2020, so our timing could not have been any worse, and that set us back some, but we were ready for it. Anything that this has thrown at us, we’ve been able to go with, but the blackjack and the table game information, we go, there are now 71 casinos in Las Vegas that deal at least a live blackjack game, and once a year, at least once a year, we visit all of them, and we been going to some of the other ones that used to just to see if maybe they brought it back, or what’s going on there with electronic cable games, Kristina covers a lot of the electronic table games these days, so, if you wanted to know where this obscure table game is in Las Vegas, if you could play it, you’d go to that table games tab and it’s either in the directory or there’s one that says other games that are basically a list of whether it’s just one or two of them. And then, so whatever it is, we find the limits to the last time we visited these casinos, and then, uh, we have all the poker rooms in Las Vegas listed, there’s 19 right now, there were 31 before the pandemic, so that was one of the projects. So, the pandemic was terrible, but also, when it reopened, it gave us a lot of ideas. We SEOd around, um, open Las Vegas poker rooms, and so many of them closed and many didn’t open right away. That was a huge topic, and so, not so much now because they’ve either come back or they have not, and I don’t think we’re gonna see any new ones, or maybe one here and there. But that’s, we did kind of take advantage somewhat of the bad time by making it…

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

We made our website a place where people could go get relevant information, so we made it what a website should be, something useful.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. Yeah, yeah. Well let’s speak to that a little bit. It’s very niche, very niche to Las Vegas, but let’s speak to what makes a great website, right? And I mean, I think it’s more than just putting up a site that looks nice. You gotta have relevant, updated content all the time, and I’m guessing that’s one of your biggest, maybe not challenges, but just, keeping up with the constant content, uh, you know, is probably something you can speak to as being important for sure.

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

It is, uh, I think we pride ourselves on trying to give the most relevant information out there that we can to help the average player have a better edge on their casino experience. I mean, you know, we’re not dumb, the pretty building are built because our money goes in and doesn’t come back out, so our goal is to give people the most value fun that they can find for the price range that they have to spend, and the same way you’re willing to spend money at the movies or the amusement park or a day at Disneyland, as long as you budget your gambling accordingly, we kind of help people take that responsibility by saving you the time to look for where the best games are. We help you find those games so that when somebody’s particular game interest and areas where they can find the best games for the best for the best moments, so they can have the best Vegas vacation they can, so, yeah.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

And Kristina handles a lot of that updating, we have other stakes sites where she makes sure we keep that as updated as possible, because a lot of these other markets have no coverage at all, so, some in Las Vegas are good and some aren’t, but other places like we have an Atlantic City Advantage, a Maryland Advantage, and there’s just not really a comparable type site.

RYAN KNUPPEL

So let’s talk about the business side of it a little bit, and knowing that you’ve been in the affiliate world for so long, I’m guessing there’s an element of affiliate marketing in here, you know, are you guys partnered with a lot of the casinos in sportsbooks, or how are you guys actually monetizing this site, and other sites?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

[Inaudible] You know, we’re, we haven’t gotten there yet, but we do a lot of, we have a newsletter that we sell that lists all these table games, like the one you see on the site is about a year old, and we have more updated information that we have as part of a news letter, that’s one way we fund. We do the affiliate work through a partnership that’s still in the early phase, and so, we’re juggling a lot of things, we do some consulting work, you know, it just depends on what we have scheduled and it comes to us, we’ve done a pretty good job in this town for getting a name for how we’re experts in the gaming space here, so it’s helped us with a lot of things. Though, the affiliate is what we’ve been concentrating on lately, but you know, that’s very a competitive niche.

RYAN KNUPPEL

It sure is, especially these days, right? With everybody and anybody trying to get into that world, and the legalization of sports betting in the US really has opened a lot of people’s eyes to that as well. Tell me a little bit about how social media plays a part in what you do. Have you found it to be beneficial to at least spreading the word about what you guys are doing, or do you not use it as much?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

So, I’ve, I think that a lot of the way we got here was through Twitter. I had built up quite a following of people that were interested in the best video poker in Las Vegas, and the best table games, and so I was able to use that to help promote the sites, so I started a Vegas Advantage Twitter account. It’s almost 8,000 followers, 7,800 or 7,900, something like that. And so that took about 3 or 4 years, but we have noticed, so we mostly focused on Twitter, and we’ve noticed that there’s been a decline in that interaction in the last couple of months with how things have been kind of controversial there. We stay out of that. To us, Twitter’s just [inaudible], however, there’s no denying that it’s not the same and that, we have fewer followers on our accounts 60 days later than we did, we’d go up 2 or 3% a month, but right now there’s fewer total followers than we had 60 days ago.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hmmm…

JOHN MEHAFFEY

And we also have a lot less interaction. It is a lot of, a lot of people have gone dormant during all this. Um, Facebook has been good, though. The last two months, Twitter has kind of faltered on us, um, we have about 1,000 followers on our Vegas Advantage Facebook account, and I’ve noticed that that interaction has gone up a lot more than it had been in the past, so maybe people are moving back to Facebook.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, that’s interesting. I, yeah, that is very interesting. I mean, who knows what all the dynamics of these social channels are, I see it all the time, when one channel is kinda going, and then another channel does, and then you’re like, “Wait, they adjusted the formula all of a sudden, now nothings being ranked here or ranked there,”, and we’re kind of seeing that with TikTok right now, is like, people and views and engagement are way down, and everybody’s like, “What? What’s going on?”. So, who knows with all the social channels. Hard to keep up with that world.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Right, and Twitter’s not public anymore, so we won’t get their traffic anymore, I wouldn’t guess, or at least maybe you couldn’t trust it 100% like you could before, so we don’t really know, but it could be down 50% for all we know, I mean, but it’s probably down 10-20%, I think there’s a lot of evidence that says it’s down some.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

It’s not going anywhere, but I think its value has dropped.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Interesting, interesting to hear. So what’s the future look like, not only for Vegas Advantage, but I know you mentioned other sites that you guys have up and you’re launching and all of the above, but what does the future look like for you two in this crazy world that we all operate in?

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

Um, well the ideal, I guess, situation would be that we would like to travel a little bit more. May 2021, we took a trip, due to pandemic restrictions and financial restraints, we had to limit our trip, so we visited 58 casinos in 14 days. Um, we actually planned on more, that’s the number we got into, so it was a really amazing trip, it was really cool to actually go visit a bunch of properties that a lot of people have never visited. So we kind of had a first hand view of some of these other casinos in other states, it’s part of why we opened up our network to some more websites with some other casinos in states like that. So we’d like to do a little bit more of that, a little bit more traveling, seeing what’s going on in other parts of the country, finding little fun hole-in-the-wall places, fun games people wouldn’t know exist, and kind of expanding our ability to help people like we have in Vegas throughout other casino markets and that’s one of our longterm goals that we would like to do with the network and site. We have the US Casino site that kind of connects a lot of the other states and stuff together, so give’s us a place to have a specific state, um, to land the information stuff still as we’re learning it. Um, you know, so he talked about some of the things we do, um, I’m working on updating them, but, uh, one of our brags was making gaming tech pages and stuff. When you go to Atlantic City and you want to eat, it’s really hard to know what’s open and what’s available right now, so I kind of put together some dining guides of, like, alright, if it’s lunchtime on Wednesday, what’s open. Um, normally you can find a casino, what restaurants are there, but you have to click each restaurant individually to know when it’s open and what’s going on, so we’re just trying to find ways to restructure information that’s already out there to make it more useful for our consumers and the people that come to our website for information.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Yeah, that trip, we took off and landed in Cincinnati and made our way to Atlantic City in a circle.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

It was quite a road trip.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that, and I love that goal, you know, that’s a great world, right? If you’re able to travel and do what you love and be together and see the world, and then also figure out how to make a living from that through the web, man, it’s, it’s a crazy world that we live in that we’re able to kind of do that kind of thing, so I commend you two for making that a goal, and we all wish we could travel a little bit more. Hopefully you’ll get down to Florida and create Florida Advantage at some point.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

We’d aim for it, but your legislative situation is not ideal at the moment. I’m sure you know that.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Oh, okay, okay. We won’t go there right now, but yes, I could see that being a little bit of a hold-up for sure, for sure. Well, that’s interesting. So one thing I like to ask, um, and again, you know, I don’t know, I’m going to put you on the spot here a little bit, but, you know, we have all sorts of business people watching this, we’ve got people, you know, start-ups in the sports betting space, or people owning a business, or entrepreneurs that are trying to get into the gaming space. What’s one thing that you guys are looking for or maybe need or maybe are struggling with, or one of the toughest things that you guys have that maybe somebody watching could potentially help with or could potentially have some advice on. Anybody have anything that comes to the top of their head there?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Alright, well, I’ll go first. Uh, the two things that I think that we are, that we could use help in, uh, one is to become more competitive in the SEO space of these highly competitive monetized keywords. One of our thoughts was if we drew the traffic, we have the traffic that we would be able to bring the monetization that way, and that’s only been somewhat successful. You know, we need the targeting keywords, and we have some of them, we watch it grow every month, and we’re finding where we’re successful and trying to aim on those and trying to avoid the ones that are too competitive. You know, we’re still on page 4 a year later, you know. Maybe we need help with that, or maybe we’re just not as good as we were when we got to page 1, I want to get to #1 instead of #5 now. And that is probably the #1 thing that we could use the help with. The other one that comes to mind is that we don’t produce videos. All of our content is words, and we’ve never really investigated starting a YouTube channel or TikTok account or anything like that. So those are the two places where I believe that we have room to improve for sure.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that. I think both of those are really important in any business, but especially a content-driven business, right? So I think videos would be amazing for what you guys are doing. I think if you built some element of that into your travel and into seeing these casinos and things of that nature would be amazing. Obviously a lot of work, right? I understand the work that gets involved with that. But, who knows? Maybe there’s people out there that can help. Actually, I’m gonna have a conversation with you afterwards. Maybe there’s a way I can help with some of that.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

They’d be happy for us to record in there, no issues at all, we just don’t have the equipment or the expertise to take them up on the offer.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure, sure. That’s amazing. That’s awesome. Well, cool guys. Well, I’m gonna let you go here fairly quickly, but I always leave it with one last thing. Do you guys have anything that I left out, any last words, anything you want to tell the audience or say, maybe something I left out that you kinda wanna touch on? I’ll leave it for both of you to put in your last word,

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

Um, no, I’ll just say that I know some people think we’re crazy for being married and working together. Um, honestly I think open communication and realizing you’re both humans is the key there. We know when one or the other’s frustrated, we kinda talk to each other how to deal with it, so we don’t end up in arguments and other stuff, and so really communication is how this works really well, and you know, we don’t find ourselves, even when we find ourselves in disagreements, we work through ways to talk stuff through. It’s civil adults, and if we know we can’t talk like civil adults, we know to separate ourselves until we can talk like civil adults, and, so that’s been, I think the key to a lot of our success is being able to openly communicate our ideas and work through conflict and stuff that way.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Yeah, we have not had any major disagreements. We have disagreed, but we’ve never gotten to the point where we’re screaming at each other.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. Oh, yeah, I commend you both on that. I’ve tried many times getting my involved with my business, and it just, you know, it’s not that it’s drop-dead arguments, it’s just hard, it’s tough, it’s difficult. You also want your spouse to be your spouse and not your business friend, right? And so, it’s like you’ve got to be a bit disconnected at times as well. So I commend you two for the way you’re able to make that work. Thanks for sharing that Kristina, I really appreciate that. John, how about you? Any last words or anything we missed from your end?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

That was one of the things, is even if you’re working and not married, doing business partners and business partnership, make sure it’s somebody you’re compatible with, so to speak, so that when you have, I guess three sometimes works better than two, right, because then two people might not agree, but being able to communicate with your business partners is absolutely the way you have to do it, because if we argue about basic operations, we could’ve never have gotten anywhere near this far.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure, absolutely. Well, guys, thank you so much. So let’s drop some links. VegasAdvantage.com is where you go to the blog and check out, I know you have a lot of other sites as well. Hopefully after this you can send me a little list and we’ll put it in the show notes of this, that way everybody can check it out. If somebody wanted to get a hold of either of you, how would they do that? And then go ahead Kristina, if you had something else to add.

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

I was just gonna say, you could also scroll to the very bottom of the website and there’s little poker chips with all the other websites on the bottom of every site.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Ohhh, I see that now. I missed that the first time. Okay, okay.

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

The other nine sites are at the bottom there.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. If somebody wanted to get a hold of you guys, what’s the easiest way to reach out to you?

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Um, so, my Twitter account is @John_Mehaffey. The DMs are open, so they can just send me a DM there. Our business email is Admin@VegasAdvantage.com. So those are the two ways to get in touch with us, whether it’s kind of personal or business related to the websites.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. I’ll make sure to put all of that in the show notes as well, that way people can just click them and get out to them, um, and be able to get a hold of you guys, and hopefully chat a bit about what’s going on in Vegas and all these other states that you’re covering, so.

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Alright.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Alright. Well, Johna and Kristina, really enjoyed this. I really wish you all the best with your sites, and again if there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out. Um, wish you all the success in the world. Thanks for coming on.

KRISTINA MEHAFFEY

Thanks for having us,

JOHN MEHAFFEY

Yeah, thanks for having us, Ryan.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Alright, really appreciate it, guys. Thanks. Bye-bye.

Alright, that was John and Kristina Mehaffey. Awesome people doing some awesome things. I love people that, you know, really see a need. They saw a need and said, “Hey, we need to get out here and talk about Vegas and talk about, you know all the different things that’s going on with gaming in Vegas”, and they just attacked it. They’ve been in the gaming space for quite some time, lots of experience in this space, and so I urge you to head out to Vegas Advantage. I mean, we all take at least 2-3 trips to Vegas every year, right? So, next time you’re going check out all the info they’ve got. Grab their newsletter, um, get on their newsletter, I’m sure that can help you with what’s going on in Vegas, and then also check out the other states as well. Alright, that is all I have for today. I really appreciate everybody tuning in, uh, I appreciate the time and effort. I think near the end of the year here, I’ll try to put out some stats. Everybody asks me, “How many people are listening,” or “How many listens do you get?”, and I’m like, “Well, I don’t even know,” I don’t check that stuff, I just enjoy doing these shows for you guys and I enjoy when I meet others that say, “Hey, I listen to this show”, or “I listened to this show and it really helped me,” or “I loved that guest,”. I love that type of feedback, so please reach out to me. I’m Ryan Knuppel, @Knup, @RyanKnuppel on all of the socials. I’d love to hear any story you have around this show, or if you’d love to be on this show or know somebody that wants to be on this show, please don’t hesitate to reach out in those regards either. Alright, have a great holiday everyone. If I don’t talk to you before the New Year hits, have a great New Year, stay safe, and we will be in touch as 2023 heads in. Alright, thanks, everybody. Bye-bye.

Relevant Links:

  1. Learn more about VegasAdvantage.com here.
  2. You can connect with John on Twitter.

 

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