Will people pay to watch live poker?

Will people pay to watch live poker?

This is a cross-post from my PokerStrategy.com column about the Global Poker Index’s new plans to turn poker into a paid spectator sport:

This week the Global Poker Index announced their ambitious plans for the Global Poker League next year. In an attempt to turn live poker into a genuine spectator sport, they plan to showcase 14 weeks of team events, some of which are played in a sealed off cube where hole cards are shown to a live audience in real time. The players will be standing, there will be a shot clock and the cards will be digital.

Most interesting of all, some of these events are scheduled to take place in large venues. The players will be paid a wage rather than buy into the event.They will be paid by revenues made from sponsorships, tickets sold to the events and merchandise.

Poker has lots of parallels with sport, especially the televised form. However, until now, nobody has tried to grow the game selling tickets to watch it live, as happens in traditional sports. The business model of all live poker events involve getting the viewers to somewhere down the line play in those events, or at the linked online poker room.

Is poker really the sort of game that people would pay to watch live? [Read more…]

Twitch and Live Poker with Alex Dreyfus

Twitch and Live Poker with Alex Dreyfus

alex-dreyfus-3-f5_orig_f5The Unibet Open and the European poker Tour have both, so far, streamed live events on Twitch, but the Global Poker Masters was the first live event which had the look and feel of being a genuine ‘Twitch’ event.

The GPI Twitch page attracted over 1.2 million views in the two days it aired, with a peak viewership of over 10,000. I spoke with Global Poker Index boss Alex Dreyfus to learn more about the partnership:

“When we launched the Global Poker Masters it was June 2014, it had been in my mind for two years. We started to look at Twitch in September 2014 when Amazon acquired them. I met the Management Team in December and discovered we had the same vision for poker, so we could work together. 

There were a few poker events already on Twitch, but we the first to be endorsed by and really embrace Twitch. There was a Twitch banner during the event, the head of Twitch poker at the press conference etc. There was a rich partnership, that’s why they pushed us a lot. To be honest our traffic was not organic it was pushed on the homepage for two days which gave us the exposure we got.” [Read more…]

How Felix Schneiders is changing the format of Twitch poker

How Felix Schneiders is changing the format of Twitch poker

10982217_848506261855489_6599968265821954536_nCurrently I believe the three most interesting people to watch on Twitch are Jason Somerville, Jaime Staples and Felix “xflixx” Schneiders. Somerville because he is the superstar of Twitch, Staples because he is the organic Twitch success and today I speak with Schneiders, whom I believe is doing the most interesting things with the format of Twitch Poker.

I speak with Felix very early in the morning, which is both a rarity for poker players in general, and Twitch broadcasters. With a predominantly US based audience, the most successful Twitch streams take place at US friendly times. However, as a European, Schneiders streams much earlier than the competition. Is this by design or simply because it fits his schedule?

“I tend to stick with a normal daily routine with my poker times. I get up early, I start my poker stuff at nine AM after breakfast, I’ll have a lunch break, then go back to playing/coaching/working on my game. So it’s mainly that my own schedule fits this Twitch schedule, I felt it was important that I was fresh enough to present in a way that’s entertaining and in the zone. When I play late I don’t focus that easy.”  [Read more…]

How Jason Somerville is leading the Twitch Poker revolution

How Jason Somerville is leading the Twitch Poker revolution

jason-somerville-pokerstarsOne man who needs no introduction in a blog series dedicated to Twitch Poker is Jason Somerville. Since his high profile signing with PokerStars he has been the poster boy for poker on the social video site. He has 69,000 followers and nearly 4 million page views at the time of writing.

He made a strong statement about his commitment to Twitch by announcing he would stream for 70 days in a row to kick-start his new sponsorship deal.

His explained his rationale for his marathon broadcast pledge:

“Nobody from PokerStars ever told me to do anything. This is entirely a prison of my own design. I knew I wanted to stream a lot and there is nothing more important for a streamer than consistency. The best streamers on Twitch are streaming seven days a week. I thought it made sense to stream all the way through March and then SCOOP, with the final event being the $10,000 SCOOP Main Event.“ [Read more…]

How PokerStaples built a huge Twitch Poker audience

How PokerStaples built a huge Twitch Poker audience

Jamie_Pokerstaples_StaplesThis week the poster boy for Twitch Poker, Jason Somerville, came 6th in the Super Tuesday for $30k in front of 24,000 viewers. A huge day for poker on the site, and it ranked 4th overall on Twitch.

While that understandably captured all the media attention, you will be forgiven for not noticing that at the exact same time Jaime ‘PokerStaples’ Staples was winning the Big $109 for $19,400 in front of a very impressive 4,800 viewers.

PokerStaples is the first Twitch streamer to go from 0 followers to organically creating a big fanbase. He now has nearly 18,000 followers, over one million views and his peak broadcast was over 7,000 viewers at once. He has found himself a sponsor and has been successfully monetising his stream, which he broadcasts for 40+ hours a week while he plays as a professional MTTer.

I spoke to him this week to learn how he grew his following from scratch:

[Read more…]