Jason Somerville announced on Twitter that he has reached a new 2-year agreement with Twitch to continue his immensely popular #runitup stream. The agreement guarantees that the biggest phenomenon in poker will continue until at least mid-2017.
After taking some time off for the summer, Somerville is set to begin streaming again on August 16th.
Live Streaming Is Here to Stay
Somerville is the brightest star in a Twitch phenomenon that is slowly but surely making poker popular again. The agreement shows that the live streaming format is unquestionably an effective way for the industry to drive growth with younger generations. That’s great news for a game in desperate need of new blood to give it a shot in the arm.
It’s also worth noting that the agreement means Twitch wants to see Somerville stick around. Fans of the game can take heart that despite going through some lean years, the powers that control major cultural gateways still see value in investing in, and disseminating, poker content.
Bringing Poker Back to the Mainstream
Somerville’s stream became a phenomenon within both the poker and broader Twitch community after he streamed for 78 straight days as a member of Team PokerStars.
During that time alone over 3 million unique visitors came to watch him and he gained over 100,000 followers.
His unique blend of entertaining personality and relaxed atmosphere could not be more different than the strategy based, profit motive driven, content that characterized the poker boom.
His invitations for fans to “come hang out” over Twitter and use of the #runitup hashtag lays out the blueprint for how to make poker lighthearted and fun again. Television personalities like Phil Hellmuth still have their place in promoting the game, but Somerville’s success shows TV is no longer enough to reach the demographics poker needs to reach.
A New Generation of Ambassador
Somerville’s agreement comes after several lean years for poker players seeking corporate dollars. It shows that the death of the sponsored poker pro has been greatly exaggerated.
It’s true that talent and huge scores alone are no longer enough. However, there is money out there for personalities willing to push the boundaries of poker entertainment with innovations that successfully appeal to new audiences.
But it’s also encouraging to see that Somerville recognizes his newfound celebrity is contingent on poker continuing to grow in the United States. His willingness to give his time to work with Daniel Negreanu towards legalizing online poker in California is necessary and important.
That cooperation is proof positive that the old and new guard can bridge the generational gap and work in common cause towards growing the game at all levels.
Exciting Things to Come
Everyone in the poker community should be encouraged by Somerville’s success. Twitch and poker are at the beginning of what looks like it will be a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
A huge thank you is in order to Jason from all of us who love the game for putting in the work to get out there into new frontiers and engage the next generation of poker players.