PokerUpdate.com contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with Twitch superstar Jason Somerville at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. Want to know about going from the dirty basement to paradise, how big Run It Up has gotten, or if Jason has found the perfect turkey burger in the Bahamas? Watch below!
And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!
Welcome everybody to PokerUpdate.com at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2016. Robbie Strazynski here, with the man, Jason Somerville.
How’s it going?
Doing very, very well. Not looking withered in the morning?
Not even slightly withered.
Not even slightly!
Energetic to the highest degree.
To the peak! Peaking!
That’s right – peaking in energy.
At 9 o’clock in the morning.
This is day 2 at the PCA, or Day 1 technically, so I have energy today. Ask me in 6 days and I promise you, I will not. Today, I’m feeling great.
Okay, very cool. We’ll jump right into it Jason. How many years have you been coming to the PCA? Besides being a sponsored pro, what is it that keeps you coming back?
I think this is my 8th time here, or maybe my 7th. I’ve been coming here a lot. This has always been a marky event on the poker calendar. There’s something very unique about the PCA that just doesn’t exist anywhere else: that combination of “resorty” atmosphere plus high stakes poker action. Over the last decade this event has grown, and evolved. The schedule this year is absolutely insane. You can skip the $100k and still play a quarter million dollars of buy-ins here – if you really wanted to – with all the hyper turbos, and everything going on. It’s an amazing schedule with a diversity of events and everyone always has fun when they come here.
I think I might sign up for both also. That would totally work.
Yeah! $50k, $100k..What’s the worst thing that could happen? You lose $150k, make some more videos, nah, you’ll be fine.
What’s $150k? Why do you think some pros choose this series over the Aussie Millions to start the year?
Well some people are going to do both!
Yes! This will actually be my first year doing both. I’m going from PCA to Australia. So I leave here on the 15th and I fly from America to Melbourne on the 18th or 19th. So I have like a 3 day turnaround. Never done that before.
You’ll be twitching for Crown Poker as well, right?
Yes. We will be exclusively streaming the Aussie Millions on RunItUp.tv.
We’re doing the $100k, the $250k, and the Main Event – all coverage on RunItUp.tv.
Well you got to ‘Run It Up.’
Run it up down under! That’s right. We’ll just do that for the next 20 minutes if you want – just mix voices together. Yell at the camera and shake our hands. That’s what I normally do, by the way, in case you didn’t know that. Just go like this and yell. Everyone loves it.
For those who haven’t seen, Jason was actually the PokerUpdate.com ‘Baller of the Month’ for October. Great video that you should absolutely check out.
So, Lee Jones of PokerStars wrote on the PokerStars Blog that you’re going to be doing a lot of streaming here at the PCA. Want to tell us a little about that?
Yeah, indeed. Actually I’m going to start streaming today, a few days before the actual events here. Just doing my normal Run It Up thing, and then as of the 8th we’re going to start doing the $100k final table – that will be Day 1. We have a German language broadcast, a Russian language broadcast, and so on, and I’m the ‘Twitch Language’ broadcaster.
Is that so?
Yeah. So I’m going to be streaming on Twitch for the entirety of the PCA. It’s going to be awesome. Twitch allows for a level of engagement that you just don’t get on a regular broadcast. When you’re broadcasting on ESPN, you’re presenting content. On Twitch it’s a conversation. We had 2.25 million lines of chat in between March and December last year.
That’s 2.25 million lines of shrieking to me this year. You don’t get that on ESPN. There’s no shrieking back and forth. On Twitch it’s an amazing dynamic. It’s not like we are showing you the PCA on Twitch, but more like, come watch the PCA action with me.
Live! In real time.
And there’s no delay on this – which I love – because I usually stream on a delay because I’m playing live with my cards showing, so I can’t. On this, I’ll be streaming with no delay so I’ll be able to talk to the chat right back and forth. I think it’s going to be awesome. I’m really excited for it.
It’s a crazy month with the PCA and Aussie Millions, no delay, I get to stream 2 $100ks, 1 Quarter Million, 2 Main Events.
I love how excited you are about this. This is genuine excitement.
Well you talk about producing content, and you recently became a PokerStars sponsored player, and of course you’ve achieved a lot at the poker table but also what you bring in terms of that added value with Twitch and Run It Up. Do you feel like the traditional model for poker sponsorship is dying and that there really has to be something ridiculously special that someone has to bring to the table?
Sure. I actually wouldn’t say that it’s dying. I would say it’s dead.
Oh wow, that’s it?
Dead in the ground. 10 years ago the poker world was very different than it is today. If you’re going to have a poker sponsorship, I just think that word is wrong. To me, I have a partnership with PokerStars, and with Twitch.
I love it.
We’re working together for a mutual gain. I have goals I want to accomplish, PokerStars have goals they want to accomplish, so in unison it’s better for us to achieve those goals than separate. I’m able to bring things to the table to PokerStars, like we had 16.5 non-unique visitors to Run It Up from March to December of 2015; and Half of a billion minutes watched.
Billion with a ‘B.’
B! That’s a thousand years of human time spent watching me Run It Up on Twitch with my robotic bird.
And this man is not even 30 years old yet!
28! Unbelievable. Well, in 28 years you’ve obviously accomplished a lot at the poker table too. You’ve won a WSOP bracelet, you made a WPT final table.
That was forever ago!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
That was so long ago.
Okay. So aside from the Twitch stuff….
…I also made a WCOOP final table in Stud Hi/Lo. That’s my most proud accomplishment of the last few years.
That was going to be the question! You already predicted the question! His most proud accomplishment was making a WCOOP final table in a Stud Hi/Lo event.
Stud Hi/Lo Eight or better! What do I know about Stud Hi/Lo? I don’t know anything about that. It was an amazing thing because that WCOOP was an amazing series for us. We streamed everyday on Twitch and those were long days. I think I made 6-8 cashes and it was amazing. People were tuning in every single day. We had 37,000 people watching the $700 Knockout NLH final table. It was amazing. A record on Twitch – 37,000 concurrent people watching. Talking Cable TV numbers to some extent here. For the Stud Hi/Lo event we had 27,000 concurrent people watching at peak – watching STUD HI/LO!! That’s a number that hasn’t been reached since the ESPN era when they used to air an episode of Stud back in the day.
I’ve got to tell you, with these viewers it’s not like Jason’s got a bulletin board right there and he’s reciting the numbers. He knows it. It’s all in his brain.
Buddy, I live the numbers! You have to know the numbers. Twitch is just on a screen, you don’t understand the depth of it and what we’ve accomplished until you understand the amazing metrics. We’ve had tens of thousands of unique viewers from almost every country around the world. You look at our viewership numbers, and not only do we have amazing viewership numbers in the UK, the US, Germany, and Canada (those big markets) but we have so many fans that love the show from Sweden, Norway, Estonia, and all these other countries.
Shout out to the Estonians.
No joke, I shipped a Run It Up hoodie to Africa last year. Africa and Japan. It’s amazing. All over the world.
Everyone’s running it up.
Well if you look around here, this is certainly not a dirty basement.
This is certainly nicer than the dirty basement.
A little nicer!
Just a smidge nicer.
I’ve got a question for you. PokerStars is expecting to hopefully move into New Jersey maybe this year or next year – will we be seeing you stream from a dirty basement in Hoboken anytime soon?
Let me tell you something. As an American I feel like the state of online poker is an absolute joke. You can bet on lottery, daily fantasy, and horse racing, in America, but the fact that online poker has not been given the same status…Okay, let’s have a sane approach to online poker in America, but the fact that that has not been happening really breaks my heart. I get to hear so many Americans that watch the show that go: “Why can’t we play online poker in a safe and regulated environment.” It makes no sense. Why not? I’m an adult American. All the things I can do in life, and I can’t play online poker for a dollar? It’s so annoying. And you know what else I’ve realized in the last 6 months, Robbie? It’s that there is really no one in America that is trying to spearhead the movement for online poker in America. You know what? I have hundreds of thousands of Americans, that are just as antsy as I am about this, that want to see change. So I was honored to be part of the PokerStars Pro Tour in the summer in California. It was amazing to go around and get to meet with politicians and kind of get the feel of what the issues were, and what the sticking points were, and to educate people there. Let me tell you something.
I met with a State Senator in California and we were there to lobby for online poker regulation and all this stuff. The first question he asks me was: “Is online poker legal in California?”
He asked you?!
He asked me this question!
Are you kidding?
I’m not kidding!
He didn’t even know?
There’s an education issue.
He has to subscribe to your YouTube channel!
You know what? I invited him to do that and I hope he checked it out. I bet you he’s watching right now. It’s one of those things where there’s a big gap in educating, not just politicians but also the public, that online poker exists and you can play on black market offshore sites but you have no guarantee your money is safe, no guarantees that the games are square, and the money can just disappear any second – as we’ve seen many times. It’s happened to me. The players can just have their money taken by the sites that have vanished in the night. I want to see regulated and fair games that are built and taxed for the government.
Yeah, sure! Let’s give the government some money. Take the money!
You would think so. I think this will be an interesting year with all the DFS legal stuff that’s happening. Because if certain things happen, and DFS is allowed in certain jurisdictions, I think we might see an opening for poker to say: “Hey! Why not us? If DFS is okay, why not us? We are also a skilled game, we are also kind of similar to some degree with that stuff.” So I’m interested in fighting that fight. I want to fight that fight in New Jersey. So to answer your question: Yes! I will be in Hoboken, in a dirty basement!
As soon as they say go, I will be there.
Maybe part of a PokerStars live tour in Atlantic CIty.
Pardon me, a Run It Up live tournament first. I prefer that we do my branding and then we co-brand from there.
I love it. That’s the partnership!
That’s the partnership right there.
Okay, a couple questions and we will finish it up here. We’ve been asking everyone what they’ve been doing away from the tables. What are you doing when you’re not stacking the chips or Twitching?
Well, I put 1100 hours of streaming last year, which works out to being 3 hours a day.
That’s it? So lazy!
Yeah! So the idea of taking time off is not really a thing to me. I actually very aggressively feel like I don’t have time off because I’m just amped. I’m just doing what I’m doing, so it’s not like I’m always working but this is how I feel – this is my passion.
It doesn’t even feel like one. Same for me! I totally agree with you.
Well that’s ideally how life should be.
Love, what you do!
Exactly. For sure, and then it’s not work. You’re just living it. I still enjoy UFC, and I enjoy playing video games. I play a ton of League of Legends and things like that. I enjoy watching Twitch – I watch a ton of Twitch content that’s not my own. I had an awesome little powwow yesterday with Jaime Staples and Kevin Martin – two of the other Twitch Poker bosses.
That’s right! I saw that.
It was a lovely little mind meld for the three of us. I had never met Kevin before.
This is ‘Twitchese’ – a mind meld!
There’s a mind meld! Imagine two minds melding together! Melding together!
You won’t find that in Webster’s dictionary.
But it is in the dictionary of Jcarver.
As are many other words that I say that are not in a traditional dictionary. RunItUp.tv for all your linguistic needs.
I studied English Linguistics in College, you know. It was very cool.
Nice! My favorite class in College – which I wasn’t there for very long – but it was like Ancient Greek and Latin etymology and roots of words. I loved that class. That was my favorite one.
Well last question and then we’ve got a surprise for you. Where can you find some Annie’s Mac & Cheese or a great Turkey Burger on Paradise Island.
Oh my God, I wish! I had hoped to find a way I could ship all the food down here but unfortunately I’ll be eating turkey sandwiches and I can’t find a substitute for Annie’s Mac & Cheese. People laugh and they go: “Surely you must be joking. You don’t just eat turkey burgers and macaroni and cheese!” I go: “No, once in awhile I eat frozen yogurt too.” People think I’m joking but really, almost all of last year (with maybe 12 exceptions) I ate macaroni and cheese for breakfast, and almost everyday I ate a turkey burger for dinner.
But you don’t have any number! How many boxes of cheese? Where are the numbers!
I should have kept those boxes stacked up. I would have had a house for an animal made out of boxes by now.
We’re going to surprise you with one last thing. A little pork chop for the fans.
Oh nice, I love it!
We’ve got a question from the hat.
Questions from the hat!
Would you kindly pick one question and read it for everybody on the camera?
I’m going to take the big one.
Read it to the camera for everybody.
Which smell do you prefer (I love it already): fresh-cut grass, or baby powder? To be honest neither of those things are in my dirty basement, so preferring either of these I’m going to say fresh-cut grass. You know what? I do enjoy going outside once in awhile just to remind myself why I don’t want to go outside. So I would say, fresh-cut grass.
Fresh-cut grass! You heard it here first on PokerUpdate.com at the PCA. Be sure to stay tuned. You can find him @JasonSomerville on Twitter, we’re @PokerUpdate – be sure to tune in.
RunItUp.tv for all this PCA.
That’s right! Peaking in PCA Action. There you go!