In a home office located in Calgary, Alberta, Jaime Staples — known as PokerStaples to his fans — makes the social media rounds, answers queries from his growing fan base, and fires up a session of online poker to stream live via Twitch.
Within a few minutes, hundreds of viewers tune in to watch the recently-named Friend of PokerStars compete in online poker tournaments that typically range in buy-ins from $27 to $215 USD.
Less than a year ago, a then 22-year-old Staples was a low stakes online tournament grinder with dreams of building his bankroll and improving his game. Deriving a strategy based on the Run It Up show hosted by Jason Somerville, PokerStaples embarked on a live streaming journey that quickly launched his career as a poker personality.
Before Jaime Staples came along, poker live streamers had not contemplated the value that giving extra attention to viewers could ultimately provide. Jason Somerville had grown his live viewer base through a unique personality, high profile poker credentials, and a poker live broadcasting talent second-to-none.
But could a relatively unknown, low profile, low stakes poker pro succeed as a live stream entrepreneur within a challenging poker segment that was in its infancy? Even if he admittedly wasn’t recognized as one of the top players in the world?
The answer was a resounding YES. If you were one of the few dozen viewers who got on the PokerStaples Subscriber Train early-on, you probably noticed that the startup Twitch live streamer could frequently be found railing final tables of fellow players who tuned-in to watch his show.
It didn’t matter if you happened to find yourself running deep in a $1 buy-in Multi Table Tournament (MTT) or the proud father of a newborn child posting baby pics on social media — Jaime Staples was there to root for you.
And so it came to be — Jaime Staples grew his audience from a few dozen to a few thousand in a matter of three months.
He politely and professionally answered chat questions such as, Are you playing for real money? and, Is there a delay to keep people from seeing your hole cards in real time? over and over again. All the while providing constant insight into his online poker play and constantly interacting with his viewers despite the demands of playing several tables at a time.
Almost instantly, the PokerStaples Twitch Channel was the #2 attraction in the Twitch Poker category behind Somerville, and sites were clamoring to team up with the rising broadcasting star who routinely attracted recreational poker players to his stream with a gift for gab and an electronic cigarette.
Much has changed for Jaime Staples since the calendar year began. The demands for his time rival some of the most well-known high stakes poker pros. His commitments nowadays include not only live streaming, but attending live events, promoting Twitch, and representing the world’s largest online poker site — PokerStars — as a live streaming personality who carries himself as an ambassador of the game.
Although he resides in Canada, Staples’ profile has only increased due to PokerStars’ pending entry into the licensed New Jersey online poker market.
Big things are happening in the poker industry as 2015 comes to a close. New Jersey is hoping for a renewed online poker boom, Twitch live streaming is expanding leaps and bounds, and Global Poker Index chief Alex Dreyfus is attempting to make believers out of all of us as he ramps up his effort to “sportify” poker next year via the Global Poker League.
On the tail end of a frustrating, fever-filled battle with a cold, ear infection that likely had something to do with his body’s reaction to fatigue, Jaime Staples was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with PokerUpdate.
Enjoy the interview!
Were you initially surprised at how quickly your Twitch viewership grew from late 2014 to early 2015? What made your programming so attractive to poker live stream fans?
I was massively surprised! I had no Idea that people would like watching me play poker. In the beginning I was really nervous thinking that people would be mean or make fun of me doing it.
I was surprised to see the positive reception I received and fed on that to work harder. Every day I wake up I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real.
Describe your experiences since becoming a Friend of PokerStars. What can you tell us about rubbing shoulders frequently with some of the biggest names in poker like Daniel Negreanu?
The morning that PokerStars called me I realized that a major change was taking place in my life. It was one of those moments that I’ll always remember where I was.
When I started playing 6 years ago being a sponsored player by PokerStars was the goal. To me, it was what success was in poker. I since have set my sights even higher in the game but to have achieved something that seemed almost unattainable in the beginning was a huge confidence boost for me.
When I first signed my contract it was intimidating meeting some of the people that I idolized coming up in the game. People like Daniel Negreanu are the reason that I even played poker in the first place. I have massive respect for all the Pros on the PokerStars roster and what they have contributed to the game (and the site itself).
I realize now though that they are just humans. I could do what they did if I put my mind to it (whether that is in poker or being an ambassador for the game.)
Some professional poker players are wary about sharing their insight with a large audience. What are your thoughts on this and how have you been able to break the mold through your success?
I view this like hole card cameras were viewed when they first came out. If you take a pessimistic mindset towards new innovations in anything, you are going to get left behind.
I recognized that even though players would see my strategy, most people wouldn’t know what to do with it. I also will be able to adapt to what they think of me and if I get good at it maybe create an advantage! With my goal to be an ambassador to poker and participate in the industry, I knew very early-on that Twitch had to be a big part of my life.
What is your opinion on regulated online poker in the United States? Do you believe U.S. licensed offerings will spread significantly by 2017?
PokerStars being accepted into New Jersey earlier this month was really great news! I don’t follow the issue closely enough to give any educated guesses on timelines, but I do my best to support initiatives that will allow American players to play regulated poker in the U.S.
Who are your favorite online poker players, and why?
This is going to be a weird answer. I try not to have any! That is not a slight on anyone’s accomplishments in the game or as people, but my view is if I put people on a pedestal, it will be harder to achieve what they have achieved.
I don’t want to create any mental blocks towards accomplishing what other people have done. For example, lets say this question was posed to a professional golfer who was trying to get on the PGA Tour. They likely wouldn’t have a favorite golfer because they are one trying to compete against those guys! That’s the mindset I try and create for myself.
You’ve recently expanded your social media presence on Facebook. What has been the response?
I have been working hard at the business end of my poker stream. I took stock of who the biggest personalities on Twitch and in poker were doing. Almost all of them were creating dialogue and driving discussion — adding value to their communities.
I decided that spending some of my revenue from my stream towards its growth was a pretty good Idea and started working with a creative team. Any network where I am not providing value in some way is a wasted opportunity where all I want is people to watch!
That’s the goal with increasing my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube interaction, to drive more eyes to my stream.
Can you name the one PokerStaples stream that is your favorite to date?
It’s actually a sort of obscure stream where I won a $27 Progressive Super Knockout event on PokerStars. I came into the final table 9 of 9 and was able to work my way back from last to first place.
I played really well and the excitement built up to a glorious heads-up match 🙂 I loved that stream.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming poker streamers who are looking to grow their audience?
I think step one is get out there and start doing it. A ton of people ask me a lot of questions about how to stream. They work on peripherals, but lack the execution to get out there and stream consistently. Improve your product over time, but start today!
Second I would say is invest in the people that watch you. The edge that the smaller streamers have on bigger streamers is the time you have to really care about your audience’s lives. I can’t rail 1,500 peoples’ results month-to-month but if you have 40 or 50 regulars, you can constantly watch their streams and rail their online play.
Interact with them via Twitter, Facebook, at the online tables, in-stream, etc. If you legitimately care about the people that support you, they will keep coming back.
Where do you see poker live streaming going over the next 12 months?
I think we are going to see continued growth! We have two people right now that are consistently putting in 40 hours a week — myself and Jason Somerville.
A bunch of people are hanging around the 20 hour mark, and I think we will see people really commit and go for it fully. It’s so much fun to do and from a business perspective, the value is really high right now. I think growth is inevitable.