Sunday, November 21, 2010

Buying Bids at Bidibot

The auction gameMentioned a few days ago how I’d found myself back over on eBay, a site I once used several years back but hadn’t had occasion to visit very much of late. I remember enjoying the auction thing for a while there, although now that I think about it I also remember Vera Valmore always rolled her eyes whenever I told her I’d “won” something. Yeah, right, she kidded me. You won. Congrats. How much did it cost you?

Speaking of auctions, I was listening to PokerRoad radio about a week ago when I heard the U.K. poker pro John Tabatabai being interviewed about a new site he’d developed called Bidibot, a “penny auction” site with an emphasis on poker and other types of online gambling. I’d actually heard about the site from someone else and was asked if I’d perhaps take a look at it, which I finally did this week.

I think one of the things that previously appealed to me about eBay -- and, perhaps, that I eventually grew tired of -- was the way the auctions did require at least a modicum of “strategy” when it came to bidding, both in terms of the amount of one’s bid and the timing. Kind of like online poker in some ways, I guess (which was something I don’t think I’d even tried when I first messed around on eBay). Bidibot also perhaps has a similar appeal -- that is to say, if you’re into the auction format and enjoy the “game”-like nature of auctions, the site may well appeal to you.

It looks as though Bidibot has linked up with a number of poker/gambling sites, functioning as an affiliate for all. Among those sites are a few non-U.S. facing ones (Betfair, 888, etc.), as well as some at which we Yanks can still play (PokerStars, Victory, etc.). Up for sale are various items of value at these sites, primarily tourney tickets and cash credits, all being auctioned to the highest bidder. Most of these items range between $11 and $50, although there are a few higher-dollar items scattered in there as well.

As Tabatabai explained on PRR, one way to think of the “penny auction” is to consider it as sort of like a “raffle with skill.” Indeed, as with the traditional auctions, there really is a kind of “game” involved the understanding of which can help one well in these things, I think. In fact, among the info one finds on the site, there’s a “strategy” page outlining a few tips for bidding.

BidibotTabatabai also mentioned on the show how there is kind of a negative stigma associated with some of these penny auction sites, mainly because in a lot of cases they function in such a way so as to create only a few winners and a lot of losers. And, understandably, most of those in the latter group usually give up on the sites after just one or two unsuccessful attempts, not necessarily recommending it to others thereafter.

Another potential negative here is the way the penny auction actually charges per bid, meaning it is quite possible one can spend money and actually come away with nothing at all. Unlike, say, an eBay auction, where only the “winner” (as I liked to call myself) spends any cash, in these penny auctions one pays for each bid placed.

For example, on Bidibot all auctions begin with a starting price of $1.00, with each bid raising the purchase price by either $0.01, $0.05, or $0.10 (as determined by the bidder). The standard cost for a bid, however, is $1.00, meaning one is paying a buck -- which you don’t get back -- just to place the bid. There are packages for buying bids in bulk so as to lower the cost per bid (e.g., for $100 one can get 115 bids). And there are other offers, including getting 10 free bids for signing up, 100% more free bids with one’s first purchase, and so forth.

There are additional deals available, too, such as auctions reserved just for “players” who have yet to win an auction, or earning credit on some of the poker/gambling sites even if one doesn’t win anything in the auctions. The idea, as I understand it, is to keep people interested in the site and to prevent them from giving up on it quickly as apparently happens on most penny auction sites. On the PRR show, Tabatabai explained that since the site is also looking to pick up some affiliate money, the auctions are not Bidibot’s sole source of income, thus enabling them to give more freebies, thereby “reducing the attrition rate from having the secondary revenue stream.”

Once the auctions begin, each bid both increases the final purchase price and adds 30 seconds to the clock (which is where some of that gamesmanship might well come in). At the moment it does appear that there’s a chance for folks to get a lot for very little at the site, especially as the traffic there has yet to build. In a lot of cases, the auctions look like they are not currently attracting very many bidders, with many of them only being contested by two or three at most.

You could say the scene over there right now is kind of like a tourney with a lot of empty seats with stacks, where the blinds are there for the taking. I’m noticing some of the auctions ending without bids or with only one or two, meaning items such as $20 credits to poker accounts at various sites or $22 buy-ins to tournaments are either going unsold or are being bought for $1.01 or something.

Sort of a variation, then, on the bonus-hunting some like to do -- and have profited from -- on the various sites. And like I say, if you’re at all fond of the auction “game,” there might be other benefits to using Bidibot. So even though I haven’t messed with auctions for a while, I’m curious....

If anyone does end up trying the site out -- and perhaps comes away a “winner” -- let me know how it goes. I won’t tell Vera.

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