The phrase “run it up” is a common one in poker. “I’m going to take this stack of chips and run it up.”
Jason Somerville put his own take on the expression, though. He started streaming his online poker action and called his Twitch stream “Run It UP!” After several years, he has gained significant notoriety for his streams and just recently surpassed 10M views on his channel. And his success with poker and Twitch – separate and combined – garnered the interest of PokerStars, which signed him on as a member of the elite Team PokerStars Pro.
Meanwhile, Somerville has a positive and fun repartee with his fans, so much so that he started inviting them to participate in live tournaments with him. Run It Up Reno was born.
Last year, Run It Up Reno brought 450 people to the tables at the Peppermill Casino in Reno, of which 100 were locals and 350 flew or drove to participate.
In all likelihood, the 2016 Run It Up Reno will be even bigger. It is set for May 24-30 at the Peppermill, culminating in a $565 buy-in NLHE Main Event with a $150K guaranteed prize pool. Throughout the week, there will be numerous tournaments with a wide range of buy-ins starting with the Tuesday Takeoff Tournament with four Main Event seats added, as well as a poker seminar given by Somerville himself.
Other fun activities are set to include a turkey burger welcome party, karaoke party at EDGE Nightclub, and a Magic the Gathering draft night. Somerville has the action set up for everyone who loves poker to gather, have fun, play poker, and get to know others in the poker community.
We talked to Somerville about the upcoming events, and needless to say, he is excited.
PokerUpdate: First of all, congrats on your 10M Twitch views. Did you imagine you’d get to this point when you first started?
Jason Somerville: Thank you! I never anticipated reaching any level of success like this when I first started streaming. I had been a longtime fan of StarCraft and League of Legends streams for years and always felt like poker would do just as well on Twitch – it’s great to see that actually be the case as hundreds of thousands of fans tune in each month to hang out with me.
PokerUpdate: What do you think is the most important factor in your Twitch success thus far?
Jason: If I had to pick one, I think it’s consistency – in 2015 I streamed for 1100 hours, and whenever I was actively streaming, I’d be streaming seven days a week for 6+ hours a day on average. I think it’s important for fans to know they can tune in and find you there every single day, and that consistency is key to building a community.
PokerUpdate: About your second major Run It Up Reno event, what kind of atmosphere can poker players and fans expect if they attend?
Jason: Run it Up Reno has always been about fun, first and foremost. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned veteran or if it’s your first time playing live, it’s my job to make sure everyone has a great experience. I tried to build a schedule with interesting, modern, well-structured tournaments, but it’s not just about the poker – we have always included a variety of non-poker festivities and this year is no different. Run it Up Reno has a very warm and welcoming atmosphere because everyone’s there for the same reason – to enjoy the game of poker, make friends, and have a good time.
PokerUpdate: Are you going to do any Twitch streaming there? Or will you leave it up to others who are doing coverage?
Jason: In the past, we’ve streamed the Main Event final table, and I’m sure we’ll do that again in the future. For a variety of logistical reasons, there won’t be a main event livestream this time, but I’m actually not too disappointed about that because it means I can actually participate in every single event and hang out with all the awesome fans who are attending the event, without having to manage a livestream and all the production stresses around it. PokerNews will be providing coverage of every single event, including hand-for-hand reporting at the main event final table.
PokerUpdate: Tell me about the cash game hangouts.
Jason: The cash game hangouts are awesome! Last time nearly every night we had 5+ cash game tables full of Run it Up warriors just having a good time playing a variety of banana games – HORSE, Badugi/PLO mix, 8-game, Stud H/L-PLO mix, and just straight NLHE of course. They’re just a fun time relaxing and battling in the cash game streets against similar-minded fun-oriented humans.
PokerUpdate: And please explain a little about the Magic the Gathering draft night.
Jason: There’s long been a ton of crossover between gaming and poker, and if you’re not familiar with it, Magic is a strategy-oriented card game with many fans in the poker community including myself. We’ve done game nights and board game hangouts in the past, and I’d often heard the suggestion of doing a Magic draft night from many previous attendees – so I decided to try and host a Magic hangout as part of this RIU Reno.
PokerUpdate: Are you taking a risk by hosting Run It Up Reno so close to the start of the WSOP this year?
Jason: We intentionally set the event to fall between SCOOP and WSOP. Even though I’m sure some people who can only choose one event or the other may pick attending the WSOP, I also think we will see long-distance travelers begin their summers with us at RIU Reno as a bit of a warm-up and then head down to the WSOP to get that gold. Also, our RIU community is full of first-time and recreational players – not exactly the same audience as those chasing a WSOP bracelet.
PokerUpdate: Lastly, what is the top reason that poker players and fans should join you in Reno?
Jason: The #1 reason to come to RIU Reno is that it’ll be fun! This’ll be our fourth RIU event at the Peppermill, and the team there is absolutely top-notch with a world-class poker room and a beautiful venue to host the festivities. I think anyone who has come to a RIU event before would agree that the tournaments are well-run, the community is warm and welcoming, and that fun is the top priority of everyone involved. Poker is a game after all – let’s enjoy ourselves!