Creating Tournament Poker Edge

Date: 2012-07-08
Author: David Huber

Recently, PokerSoftware caught up with Tournament Poker Edge founder and contributor Derek "Killingbird" Tenbusch, who aside from having an impressive poker resume has also been responsible for the growth of one of the world's premier tournament poker training sites.

Tenbusch and the all-pro Tournament Poker Edge staff are currently in WSOP Main Event mode, as the poker world has its attention focused on the multi-million dollar No Limit Hold'em event. However, Tenbusch still took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions relating to the challenges of running the operations of a world-class poker training site.

PokerSoftware: Can you talk about the formation of Tournament Poker Edge? When and why did you join the site and how did the first few months go?

Derek Tenbusch: I was one of the original founders of Tournament Poker Edge.  Diego (my business partner) and I had talked about starting some sort of poker business for quite a while.  He has a background in business and programming and I have a background in marketing, so it was a bit of a perfect match from that standpoint.

We brainstormed a ton of ideas and actually originally decided to stay away from training.  However, both of us were primarily MTT players and we always talked about how we wished there were more training sites dedicated exclusively to MTT training.  So, we finally decided there was a niche we could fill.

PokerSoftware: How has Black Friday changed the poker training industry? How has Tournament Poker Edge adapted?

Derek Tenbusch: We were really not sure what the impact of Black Friday was going to be.  But, much like poker players did, we decided, "Let's go to the 2011 WSOP, see how that goes, and we will decide from there."  We came home from the WSOP, were more passionate about the business than ever, and decided we would do whatever we had to do to make it a success in a post-Black Friday world.  We had to make some very difficult changes on the ownership and management side.

Then, we took a much more international approach to the site.  We hired more international pros and focused our marketing on international magazines, websites, and so on.  We are very happy to be bigger (and better in our opinion) than we ever were before Black Friday.

PokerSoftware: There are a lot of companies in the poker training market. How does Tournament Poker Edge differentiate itself and why did the site take that approach?

Derek Tenbusch: There are a few ways we differentiate ourselves.  For one, we focus only on tournaments.  We do not have cash videos at all.  While there are one or two other sites that focus on MTTs, we feel pretty strongly that we are the best.  We also attempt to make Tournament Poker Edge as much a "community" as it is a "training site."

You won't find many other training sites whose members hashtag Tournament Poker Edge in all of their Tweets, or whose members wear Tournament Poker Edge patches when they play live.  We interact with our members daily in the forums, Twitter, Facebook, and so on.  We got to meet a ton of our members at the 2012 WSOP this summer (as we did last year) and that always makes all the hard work worth it.

PokerSoftware: How does Tournament Poker Edge go about finding and signing new pros? What is a typical deal like?

Derek Tenbusch: It varies a ton.  We have had some pros approach us.  Others we knew we wanted on the roster and we actively went after them.  Many of our pros are referred to through other pros.  Obviously, the poker world is relatively small, so you are usually only one or two degrees separated from any pro you might want to approach about doing videos. Similarly, the deals also differ.

A few of our pros are actually part owners in the company, which we love because it makes them that much more committed to the company.  Others we pay per video series, and that amount depends on a ton of factors.

PokerSoftware: Where do you see the future of the poker training industry going? How will Tournament Poker Edge fit into that trend?

Derek Tenbusch: The biggest wild card is, of course, regulation of online poker in the United States.  We feel pretty confident that the day is coming, so we are doing everything we can to prepare for it.  I think as time goes on, players are going to want more than just good training videos.  They are going to want other alternatives for how to learn the game.

We are actively looking at other teaching methods.  Also, we want to continue to build the community aspect of Tournament Poker Edge.  It's absolutely the hardest part of running the site because it requires time and commitment beyond just recording a few videos, but it is also the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect. We know poker players have become increasingly reliant on their mobile phones, iPads, etc. How has Tournament Poker Edge taken that trend into consideration?

Derek Tenbusch: This was important to us from the launch of Tournament Poker Edge.  All of our videos can be viewed on mobile devices.  Also, all of our videos are DRM-free and can be downloaded for viewing later (while traveling, etc).  So that will, of course, continue to be the case, but we also want to optimize other parts of the site for the mobile experience, especially the forum and chat room aspects of the site because those are the most popular with our members.

PokerSoftware: What are a few of the latest videos on Tournament Poker Edge and what was the allure of having them made?

Derek Tenbusch: We recently launched a series from James "Rivermen123" Lambert, who is our newest pro on the roster.  He actually started out as a member, so it was pretty cool to see his hard work pay off and become a pro for us.  We also fairly recently launched the first series from David "betudontbet" Emmons, who is an absolute online monster.

Emmons won the TCOOP Main Event recently, and that will actually be his next series for us.  We also have new series from "HurricaneJeff" and "DannyN13."  Danny has been with us for about a year now and he is already great, but will be absolutely crushing MTTs over the next couple of years.  Finally, there is a new video series that just ran from our lead pro, Casey "bigdogpckt5s" Jarzabek.  His series are always incredibly popular, so I would definitely suggest people check that one out.

PokerSoftware: Do you ask instructors to make specific videos or how does that process work?

Derek Tenbusch: It varies.  Sometimes we have a specific idea in mind, so we'll pick a pro who would be really good to do that series and go to them and ask them to do it.  Other times the pros will come to us with an idea for their next series.

The key is that the pro is excited about the series that they are going to do because you want them to be as into it as possible.  And then many times the pro just gets in the mood and fires up the recorder while doing a live session.  Sometimes those recordings get scrapped and sometimes they turn out to be absolute gold.  Sometimes those turn out to be the best ones because you catch a pro in their element.

Tenbusch is known online for turning an initial $7 investment into a $12,500 online poker bankroll thanks to a Step 6 PokerStars tournament. Since then, he has recorded a number of significant tournament scores and been a successful mid-stakes MTT player.

For our readers who have not visited, the site focuses on tournament poker, which gives it a unique niche in the market and ensures premium customers are receiving a focused product. There are three subscription plans: Yearly, Quarterly, and Monthly. The plans range from $19.99 to $23.95 per month depending on the number of months that are purchased. To find out more, visit

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