Twitch. The word that’s on more poker players lips than strawberry flavored chapstick.
Jason Somerville started the ball rolling. His poker-playing peers have started to give him a helping hand. I wouldn’t call it competition. It’s more of an alliance. An alliance to introduce poker to people who don’t play poker.
Three time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner, Dutch Boyd, has taken up the challenge. I reached out to him to get a feel of how things have been going in the first few weeks of his Twitch career.
The last time we spoke was at the 2014 WSOP. What have you been up to since?
“There are two times of the year. There is World Series time, and there is waiting for World Series time. I’m counting down the day’s man.
“I’ve been keeping busy though. I’ve been grinding a little bit, working on a new book on poker tells, and working on a staking and sponsorship platform called Staking.com. You should get to see something on that in 2016.”
How did you get into Twitch?
“I went to the American Poker Awards at the SLS, the other week, and it was Twitch this, and Twitch that. People were talking about Twitch being the new poker boom. To be honest, I couldn’t figure out the difference between that and YouTube.
“Michelle kept telling me to get online and take a look. So I went on there one night and was watching this guy playing 2c/5c on Bovada. He was chilling, playing, and taking shots. He makes a play and starts narrating his thought process. I jumped on and made a few comments. Someone else in the chat asked if I was the real Dutch Boyd? The guy operating the stream didn’t know who I was, but suddenly he was like: “We have a real WSOP bracelet winner on the stream.’ The conversation was live. It was going on in real time. Then I got it. That was the difference right there.
“I found it very interesting. Yesterday, I did a Twitch stream whilst playing a WSOP qualifier. We get down to the last three. The first prize is a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat, and anything else is a punch in the mouth. I’m in the lead with 110,000, there is another guy close behind with 80,000, and there is a short stack with 17,000.
“I raise pre flop with queen-four suited, and the other big stack raises with ace-queen of spades. I call, and end up flopping a flush draw. He moves all-in and I call. I’m running the numbers, and I’m 52% to win and get up against a short stack with a 19:1 chip advantage, with $10k on the line.
“This is live. There are 500 people watching. It’s like a little city. We do the flip, he wins, and I’m throwing up all over the keyboard. That’s the beauty of Twitch.”
What are your streaming plans?
“I’m going to be streaming pretty much every day up until the WSOP. I will take a few days off to head to Minneapolis where I am playing in a tournament as a bounty. I will try and stream that $1k WSOP event as well.”
Is it like TV, except always live?
“It’s more like chilling out with your buddies. The interaction is like hanging out. If you came on my stream I would be talking with you about what you are up to, and involving everyone else in that discussion. It’s not TV. You are never going to have someone on TV say, “Hey Dutch what’s up?”
Do you think there always needs to be a poker game being played during the stream?
“I don’t think you need to be playing. Last Saturday, I did a poker clinic where I put together a power point style presentation and did some lecturing. It worked. People were asking questions, and I responded in real time.
“I also called the Heartland Poker Tour and got permission to do viewing parties. We will watch a couple of episodes, and then talk about the hands, learn about the game and chill out. It’s such a new format. People will experiment and come up with ways to use it.
‘Watching a live stream on WSOP.com is pretty cool, but watching it on Twitch is better. I’m excited to see how it develops. I heard that David Tuchman will be hosting a radio show on Twitch where people can interact with him. I think we will move away from just playing games. People will expect more than that.”
How difficult is it?
“It’s not easy to do. To actually be streaming 6/7hrs straight, keeping the banter up, and focusing on what you are doing is really tough. There is nothing passive about Twitch. It shouldn’t be about putting up a camera and letting people see you. That’s not what it’s about. You need to entertain. When I turn it off I go to the fridge and I’m still running a commentary about deciding to drink milk or orange juice? You have just spent seven hours talking to an audience. It isn’t that easy to just switch it off.
“Poker players are used to doing what they want to do. Wake up when they want, play when they want. Twitch is like a real job. You wake up, work for 8-hours and then have a few hours left to yourself. But I’m enjoying it. I have my Twitch partnership, so it’s paying off. It won’t be too long before I can stop worrying about beating the games.”
How does it work?
“Anyone can stream on Twitch but you need to have a certain number of followers to become a partner. Twitch partners get paid in two different ways. First is through ads. You have this little thing on your dashboard where you can run a commercial anytime you want. If you are playing tournaments, the ads run well during the breaks on the hour.
“Then you have money through subscribers. People can subscribe for a price, and the partner gets a cut of that. I have 60-something subscribers. You don’t have to subscribe to watch me, but there are benefits to being a subscriber. These benefits will grow as I spend more time streaming and learn more about it.”
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