For poker fans who don’t yet know the name of Kevin Martin, they will. He is one of today’s rising stars in poker, though his popularity goes far beyond the tables. And he is also the newest member of Team PokerStars Pro Online.
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Martin is not the player most likely seen on a broadcast of a World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker tournament, and he’s not known for playing high-stakes games. He doesn’t fly to poker events on private jets or make million-dollar prop bets. Rather, he is a low- to mid-stakes poker pro who finds great joy in sharing his poker experiences on Twitch and welcoming new players to the game.
1,000,000 views on Twitch. Thank You! ❤ pic.twitter.com/EjrSBv1f4D— Kevin Martin (@KevinRobMartin) June 11, 2016
Martin has a charming voice, which makes it no surprise that he made a living for a time as a radio host on rock stations in Canada. The Calgary native had a penchant for poker, though, and as soon as the young pro was able to build a workable bankroll, he resigned from radio and made online poker his priority. What for some is a grind, Martin found to be an enjoyable new career, and he took that joy to Twitch and built a substantial audience that caught the attention of PokerStars.
His engaging personality attracts more than 1,000 viewers to his average Twitch sessions, but Martin is also now known for his recent stint on Big Brother Canada 3. His poker mindset didn’t make for a reality television victory, but his experience was a learning one and increased his popularity. If you haven’t gotten to know Martin yet, you can get to know him here.
Poker Update: Tell us a little about your first experiences with poker, how you were initially introduced to the game.
Kevin Martin: I remember my dad brought home a cool movie his friend had shown him called Rounders. We only made it a few minutes in because of the profanity (Mom was not impressed), but the card scenes that I watched stuck with me.
I enjoyed the game recreationally, and when I turned 20, I found my first strategic book online!
Poker Update: At what point did you decide to become a poker pro? Was it a gradual process or a specific moment?
Martin: I started playing live cash games after my late night shift as a radio announcer, never to make profit but to learn the game and enjoy myself. I was very analytical about the whole process, tracking when and how long I played, running home and making Excel spread sheets with results for the day. It was fresh, new and fun!
I was pleasantly able to make a steady profit and set a goal that when my bankroll hit $15,000, I would try to play full time. I remember hitting that number and calling the radio station the next day to hand in my resignation and chase the dream!
Poker Update: How did Twitch enter the picture, and what was your motivation to livestream your games?
Martin: My best friend, Jaime Staples, started a Twitch stream and found a lot of success through his talent and personality. Jaime always told me that I would do well on Twitch, but I never saw that much value in it. After I saw how many viewers he was getting during his deep runs, I realized that this platform held a lot of power, and I quickly started up my own channel.
Poker Update: Did Twitch and/or your viewers change how you played?
Martin: It does sometimes, and it’s not a good thing. I’m getting better at blocking Twitch out and playing my own game. When I was first started, I was afraid of making plays that I thought were right but people on Twitch would think were wrong. I’m more comfortable now making crazy bluffs or hero calls that I think are right. If I look silly, that’s fine; all poker players look silly sometimes!
Poker Update: As for Big Brother, how did your poker background help or hurt your strategy and outcome on the show?
Martin: It helped because I understand variance. Poker players take bad beats every day, and it builds up your tolerance to things that are not in your control. There is a lot you can’t control in the game of Big Brother, and it helped me stay focused through the highs and lows.
It hurt me because I viewed the game as a poker tournament. I gathered information and tried to make strategic decisions in almost a robotic way. I failed to relate to people emotionally because of this.
If I were to do it again, I would treat my fellow players like people first rather than poker hands! Poker players have had poor results in shows like Survivor and Big Brother, and I think this is a common flaw.
Poker Update: How does it feel to now be a member of Team PokerStars Pro Online?
Martin: It’s absolutely amazing! When I first got going in poker, I always wanted to represent a company and help grow the game. We put our head down and tried to work hard, and it’s an unbelievable blessing that it’s happened this soon!
It’s nice to have an unbelievable group behind me as a player and a broadcaster!
Poker Update: Do you have any new goals for live or online play now that you’re affiliated with PokerStars?
Martin: We’ve changed the goals appropriately, for sure. Now that I have this amazing team and resources behind me, I really have no excuse with my career going forward. Keep getting better, keep growing my audience, and showcase the journey for anybody that wants to watch!
Poker Update: What is the most popular piece of advice you give to new poker players?
Martin: Study. It’s not fun, but if you want to see your game grow, it’s the most important thing. Natural talent is overrated in this industry. The most successful people are there because of their work ethic! Make it happen!