Q&A With Bigwinboard Founder Daniel

Interview

What started out as a simple blog about online slots is now a massive resource for casino enthusiasts around the world who look for reliable information and unique, in-depth slots reviews.

Going from zero to tens of thousands of monthly visitors in just a few years, the founder of Bigwinboard.com, Daniel, knew what he wanted to achieve right from the get go. Let’s hear it from the man himself.

bigwinboard old
A screenshot of Bigwinboard from 2018

Q: How did Bigwinboard come about and what was your vision when you started the site?

Daniel: This will be long, so bare with me. I got into online gambling rather late in my life, in 2016 to be precise. Before that, slots and gambling wasn’t really anything I paid much attention to. I might have played the lottery like everyone else, or dropped a few coins into the fruit slots whilst on a cruise, but it wasn’t anything more than that. It all changed when one day I heard a casino commercial on the radio in my car.

I got home, made a deposit on Unibet, claimed the welcome bonus and fired up Mega Fortune Dreams because, well, that was the game mentioned in the commercial. Some 15 minutes in and I’ve gone from a €20 balance to €3500. I proceeded to cash it all out and had an unforgettable 2 week vacation with the family in Greece. I kept playing and was super lucky which, of course, made it all the more exciting.

Eventually, I got involved in the casino streaming community and started live streaming slots. This was in late 2016 and the community was still small with the biggest streamers attracting around 300-400 viewers per stream on the very best of days.

I kept streaming under the name Blackcatseven for a couple of years and built a nice following whilst also learning a lot about the industry from playing slots nearly every day. I was doing quite well as a slot streamer and it was even starting to be profitable.

But as time went on, I started feeling disillusioned and, frankly, a bit bored. What started out as something light-hearted and enjoyable had turned into a business, and streaming on a schedule was almost starting to feel like an office job. Also, I didn’t like the fact that I was becoming more of a salesman instead of how it was intended in the beginning – just having fun and sharing the ups and downs of gambling with my viewers. With all the unlimited bonuses available to me, I wasn’t really taking much of a risk anymore. I dunno if it sounds strange, but it didn’t feel like real gambling at that point. The thrill and excitement was gone.

So, I began looking for something else to do. Having ran a few fairly successful non-casino related websites in the past, starting a website dedicated to slots seemed like a natural step to take. In 2017 I got it all set up, choose the name Bigwinboard and started blogging. There weren’t any investors involved or anything fancy like that, just a guy who wanted to write about slots.

My vision was simple. Write honest reviews. Don’t write to entice people to click the links, write from the heart and say what you really feel as a player yourself. Only promote casinos that you would consider playing at yourself. Be responsible and act in such way that you’ll always be able to look your readers in the eyes when questions are asked.

It wasn’t some thought-out strategy though, but more something reflective of me as a human I believe. Most casino sites out there are built only to rank on certain valuable keywords and make money, but I wanted it to have deeper meaning. I guess what I had in mind was to build a sort of video gaming site but for slots.

To my great joy, both readers and the industry caught on pretty quickly and seemed to appreciate the unique approach. I was actually surprised at how smooth it all went. I didn’t care about ranking or seo, yet Bigwinboard quickly ran past many of the old established slot sites that had been around for years.

Q: You mentioned streaming. Can you share some of the highlights?

Daniel: My first big moment was definitely when I triggered a 4 reel Wild Desire in Immortal Romance and landed a 2,000x+ win. I went crazy and broke my lamp and the whole family came in to see what was happening. It was fun and quite innocent back then. The viewers loved it.

I don’t know how it is nowadays, but back then drunk streams were common. During one stream, I was mixing all kind of drinks – beer, wine, licorice shots. I didn’t realise how intoxicated I was getting, but it ended up with me passing out in my bathroom with the stream still running. Around 7 am in the morning I finally managed to crawl back to my computer, and to my surprise, people were still waiting in the chat, speculation on what had happened. Crazy times.

“Players put their hard earned money on the line, of course we’re going to be critical.”

Q: How has your relationship with the game studios evolved throughout the years?

Daniel: It definitely hasn’t been without friction I must admit. Some game studios just weren’t used to our bluntness and honest approach. They were probably more used to affiliates rubbing their backs and saying good things about their games, no matter how bad, just because it was all about making money.

Game studios and affiliates were symbiotically working together and the affiliates were nothing more than just a promotional tool to them. Incredibly boring and generic stuff. I think we’ve been an influence to a whole new generation of affiliates. I’ve seen several new sites follow in our footsteps. They would likely benefit more from trying to find their own touch, but at least it’s better than just systematically throwing out generic reviews just to rank.

When it comes to the game studios, we’ve had some serious clashes with Microgaming and Yggdrasil Gaming in particular. I remember having a meeting with Microgaming over the phone, hoping to organize some kind of promo for our readers or whatever. Instead, and out of the blue, I got called a “nasty person” and all sorts of things simply because I had been writing some negative reviews. They were still stuck in old traditions where no one ever had anything critical to say about their products. In retrospect, they were probably just confused about it and assumed it was some sort of smear campaign rather than honest feedback. Players put their hard earned money on the line, of course we’re going to be critical.

It didn’t help either that Microgaming was at a really bad place from a creative point of view, and there really wasn’t much positive to write about their games. Their Poke The Guy slot is still the lowest scoring game in the history of Bigwinboard I believe lol. I should point out, however, that the Microgaming I know today are really cool people.

Yggdrasil Gaming was trying to make our lives hard too for a while. For example, they came after us with a copyright strike on Youtube in an attempt to shut us up and I still have some trust issues with them to be completely honest. To be fair though, I was like a rebellious child in the beginning and didn’t care about leaking games, something that didn’t go down too well obviously.

Big Time Gaming were particularly annoyed, and they had good reason to be. I used to leak their new games all the time until they eventually gained control over their links. I was being a real pain in the ass and it took time for me to mature and learn how the industry works. Having said that, I also knew I had to be aggressive in order to get my scoops, so it’s really not something I regret as much as I should lol. As a news reporter, you sometimes have to walk over bodies to get your story. My loyalty was with the readers, never the game studios. That’s still the case today.

At the end of the day it’s been a learning curve for all of us. I really believe that Bigwinboard brought with it such profound change that the industry didn’t really know what to make of it at first. Today, however, things are very different. The developers seem to appreciate and value the honest feedback they receive and the site has come to play an important role.

Do I still clash with studios? Sure, but it’s very rare. We have great mutual respect for each other and I know almost all of the CEO’s personally, so if there are any issues, we sort them out by talking to each other. No big deal. They’re all great people and as enthusiastic about slots as we are.

“We don’t write negative reviews just out of spite. We never do. If your games are bad, you need to hear so. It’s in your best interest too.”

Q: Has any game studio ever tried to influence you to improve the score or complained about low scores?

Daniel: I can’t recall one single time that any studio has ever tried to affect the score. It has happened that I’ve received messages on Skype where they may have complained a bit about their competitors receiving high scores, but that’s just because they are super passionate about their games and I don’t mind that actually.

As you can imagine, conversating with people who design the games you’d just ripped to pieces can be a bit awkward, but they are extremely professional and know that we don’t write negative reviews just out of spite. We never do. If your games are bad, you need to hear so. It’s in your best interest too.

Q: Any game studios that have expressed worries about being featured on the site due to your honesty?

Daniel: Not that I can think of. Some studios frequently receive low scores and negative reviews, and I can imagine that they’re not super thrilled about that. But again, this isn’t done out of spite and there are times where I’m really hoping they’ll come up with something great so we can stop whining all the time lol. No one is happier than me when a low performing studio receives a solid score.

Q: What’s the hardest part about reviewing slots?

Daniel: It’s super complicated. You can ask 10 different people what their favorite slots are and you might get 10 completely different answers. You also need to take into account that casual gamers and hardcore gamers look for very different things in slots. In the casino streaming community, for example, it’s all about ultra high volatility and super big wins, because ridiculously big wins make you stick out and gets people talking. It makes for good entertainment too + streamers can afford that kind of gameplay with their endless bonuses and EV+ deals.

Casual gamers, meanwhile, they don’t worry too much about technicalities such as volatility, hit frequency, potential or even RTP. They’ll just browse the lobby for something that looks fun and give it a go. Also, slots are not like video games. You’ll have really simple and primitive slots like Book of Ra Deluxe, and it’s still considered one of the best slots ever made by many players. So as you may understand, you can’t just judge a slot by the looks, or the maths, etc.

There are many things you need to take into consideration and I think you need some experience and knowledge of the industry as well. Heck, sometimes we get it completely wrong, but it is what it is. Either way, players are not stupid. They’re fully capable of making up their own minds. But I do believe that our reviews can help them make certain decisions.

Q: Which game studios are the easiest to work with and which are the hardest?

Daniel: I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of great representatives and CEO’s throughout the years. Nik from Big Time Gaming is super passionate about his games which is a beautiful thing to see really. In many ways, he shares the same vision as us. He’s both enthusiastic and brave, and super creative as a person, constantly challenging himself to make unique games. I wish there were more like him in this industry. He genuinely wants to make great games and take players to new places. It’s very rare to get to talk to a CEO that is directly involved in the creative process like that.

I’ve also found the people at Red Tiger to be very pleasant to interact with (here I would like to send a special thanks to Peter Kovisars who has been somewhat of a mentor and supporter since the day I started the site). Never any problems, super professional and always happy to help. Blueprint Gaming are great guys too, as are the reps at Play’n GO (special shoutout to Tommy who is an awesome guy), as well as Relax Gaming, Quickspin, iSoftBet, Nolimit City, Push Gaming, and Thunderkick. They make my life as a critic easy and they never, not even once, give us any problems. On the contrary, they go to great lengths to provide all the info we need to complete our reviews and they never complain over negative reviews.

Q: Which are your personal online slot favorites?

Daniel: There are two slots I almost always visit when I make a deposit – Book of Ra Deluxe and Book of Dead. I don’t think I need to explain why really. Those are two of the most classic slots out there. I also regularly play Bonanza, Dead or Alive, Danger! High Voltage, Jammin’ Jars, Reactoonz, Game of Thrones 243, Montezuma, White Rabbit, Genie Jackpot Megaways, Queen of Riches, and some old Merkur and Novomatic stuff. But I also love to explore the new stuff that comes out. I really enjoy what Nolimit City, Hacksaw Gaming, and iSoftBet have been putting out lately.

Q: Lastly, where do you think Bigwinboard will be in 5 years?

Daniel: We don’t necessarily need to expand, I just hope that we can continue on the same path and keep evolving and growing independently as a site and community. I’m hoping to do some more promotions in the future. We recently ran one with Play’n GO that was highly appreciated by our readers. They even got Dee Snider from Twisted Sister to do a special shoutout to Bigwinboard. How cool is that! Also, I hope players will start to get involved and use our comment section more actively. It’s a great way for the community to share their experiences with others.

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