Viewing online poker play has evolved almost as much as the actual game over the past decade. Although the fervent ALL-IN, CALL, and BOOM chatbox one-liners are still prevalent within an online poker room’s software, railbirds are becoming much more accustomed to receiving real-time feedback on their comments. Enter Twitch poker live streaming.
There are several things you need to know about the in and outs of “casting” before dedicating a substantial amount of your time to streaming your online poker action live for hundreds to see. Following is a step-by-step guide to get your started.
Step #1: Hardware, Software and Internet Requirements
Even before you create a Twitch account, you will need:
(A) A relatively new PC or MAC, along with a webcam
(B) OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) or similar live streaming program
(C) Internet Upload speed of at least 4 MBPS
If you don’t fulfill these requirements, then Twitch streaming (poker or otherwise) is not for you. Out of date hardware or a poor Internet connection will make live streaming an impossibility.
Step #2: Create a Twitch Account
This step is very simple and only takes a valid email or Facebook account to verify. Once you’re up and running, experiment with the site’s features and do a short “test stream” to see how everything comes out.
Your “Past Broadcasts” will automatically save if you select the option within your account to do so, but only “Highlights” will be stored permanently.
Step #3: Become Proficient with OBS
OBS is free live streaming software that works well with Twitch. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on How To Setup OBS for Twitch Live Streaming.
The most important feature of OBS for online poker players is the Stream Delay option (PC users only — this feature is not yet available for the MAC version). The typical stream delay is around five minutes, although this is generally extended by well-known Twitch casters when they are competing in big online events.
Another aspect of OBS you should become familiar with is how to set up your “Scenes” so your layout is attractive to viewers. This includes everything from arranging your online tables to adjusting the size and position of your facecam.
Step #4: Start Streaming
Assuming you’re now familiar with the basics of streaming your online poker play live, it is time to begin casting. Enter a stream title via the Twitch platform, make sure your content is designated under the Poker category, and share your experience with the world!
Unless you are a very popular poker player, you may notice immediately that Viewership is significantly low. Many novice streamers are initially shocked by the fact that their first few casts are only seen by a few dozen (or less) people.
So, unless you’re a huge personality — like Jason Somerville — who’s already built up a significant following within the poker community, you’ll need to…
Step #5: Be Consistent
You can enter your upcoming stream schedule via Twitch to let viewers know when you’ll be casting. However, you will have to be consistent! In other words, be on-the-air when you say you’ll be!
There are few things that will alienate an audience like postponing or cancelling your show on short notice. If you’re a person who is going to become discouraged after a few days of poker losses or poor ratings, don’t over-commit by posting a lengthy schedule.
Step #6: Respond to Your Viewers
The hook for viewers who enjoy live streaming shows is that they get to interact with their favorite personalities in real time. Those who enjoy poker streams are already used to having a five minute delay on a cast — so don’t worry about that — but otherwise you need to engage your audience!
Believe it or not, some of the most popular live streamers in the poker category are those who only show one table at a time. Why is this true? It is true because most viewers prefer feedback over watching someone play 20 tables at a time (which many viewers can already do on their own).
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for mass-tabling on a live stream, but unless you’re involved in some epic prop bet or unique scenario, chances are viewers will quickly tune you out if you’re too busy to communicate with them. One very common way to engage viewers is to ask them to “Follow” your channel. There are plugins available that automatically display new subscribers live while you’re streaming.
Step #7: As Viewership Grows, Focus on Chat Moderation
Once you have grown your concurrent viewership to a consistent rate of 50 or more, it’s time to focus a bit on in-stream chat moderation.
Luckily, most of this can be taken care of directly from the Twitch platform. Use the Twitch account controls to assign Moderators (most fans will help out with this for free) and decide what non-obvious content you want you those Mods to censor. You should also have some ground rules for what you will and won’t respond to while streaming live.
Step #8: Become a Twitch Partner
The most commonly-asked questions related to Twitch streaming generally revolve around potential revenue. Once you have a large viewership (typically hundreds of people who tune-in to your show on a regular basis), you can Apply for Twitch Partnership). If granted, your Twitch account features will expand significantly.
For one, you will be able to offer Paid Subscriptions to your viewers (at $4.99 per month — half of which goes to Twitch). A Partnered Twitch Account can also set unique emoticons for Subscribers, restrict and customize Videos on Demand — aka VODs, set a stream delay from your Twitch account, as well as run pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll advertisements.
All of this can help you earn actual income from your poker streaming. But before you get too excited, be aware that…
Twitch only pays you once you accrue $100 or more. In order to generate that amount of income, you will need at least several hundred viewers and/or subscribers throughout a month with programming that airs at least five times per week.
Even 100 monthly subscribers will only net approximately $250 since new Partner accounts only receive 50% of subscriber revenue. Advertisements generate income at a very slow pace unless you have 500 or more concurrent viewers. To increase your earning potential, you may want to set up a separate “Donation” option for loyal viewers who wish to support your poker live stream.
So there you have it. Streaming poker live doesn’t take a rocket scientist, but earning a meaningful amount of money from it does require viewers. Have fun and best of luck with your poker casts!