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:

“I started four months ago so I have to attribute some of the success to there just not being that many streams when it started. There was less competition and I was ranked higher in the poker listings.”

“I think the way I talked to the audience set me apart from the rest. I was always talking to the viewers and about what I was doing, even when there was nobody chatting in the chat box. I think that encourages viewers to stay as opposed to tailoring how you talk to how many viewers you have. “

“Even when I had 0 I needed to say what I was doing out loud to stay focussed. That means from hour one I was trying to enforce in myself what I was doing to keep myself on track. It wasn’t even preparation for a big audience, it just kept me playing well, like I was making a training video. “

Staples has been monetising his stream with sponsorship, subscriptions, affiliate revenue and ad revenue. Each avenue has contributed round about the same level of income for him, with the exception of ad revenue, which has been lower. I ask him what the long term plan is with his Twitch following:

“I would like to continue to grow my channel in the short term. I feel like it’s a training channel already. I want to focus on growing a YouTube channel as well. Really just set myself up as someone who can create content and grow the brand. If I don’t want to be playing poker 25 years down the road I have something to fall back on.” 

“Somerville is good for streams like mine”

jason-somerville-pokerstarsIt is impressive that Staples can attract nearly 5,000 viewers on the same night that Jason Somerville captures 24,000. Has Somerville helped or hurt someone like Jaime’s Twitch traffic?

“I’ve seen a 33% drop this past week. Obviously he is back and signed to Stars so there is a lot of hype around that. Long term him bringing people into the game and the poker streams is a really good thing for me.”

The Twitch highlight for Staples so far was when he made an earlier deep run in the Big $109 on PokerStars and shared a final table with Viktor Blom. That got him on the front page of Twitch and over 7,000 people watching him in action. Getting on the front page of Twitch is equivalent to a YouTube video going viral or an article getting on the front page of Reddit, and right now poker is finding itself on the front page a lot: 

“Right now because poker is fairly new it’s getting more than it’s fair share. It’s something that goes through the partnership programme where Twitch will feature partners on the front page. It’s a huge opportunity, one month last year Twitch was the number four website in the US for traffic. “

Opening new doors for broadcasters

maxresdefaultI mentioned earlier this month that I don’t believe training sites have to worry about Twitch taking away their audience, because despite looking the same on the surface, Twitch is much closer to social media than it is to a traditional education platform. Both Staples and myself believe, however, that Twitch is going to democratise content creation for poker coaches much like the Kindle has for self published authors:

“In the long run Training Sites will be in competition with Twitch for coaches, because coaches will be able to make more money for themselves on Twitch with a partnership deal. You can save your recordings for subscribers-only for $4.99. In the long run we will see this open sourced channel by channel training for poker.”

Likewise we both believe that Twitch not only opens more doors for potential content creators it will also become a platform that potential sponsors should take very seriously:

“I have a sponsor with a HUD company named Jivaro. That is my only affiliation right now, which has been really nice. I’ve received lots of offers from rakeback and affiliate sites, but no actual poker rooms yet.”

“The potential with me is 40+ hours a week of camera time. The impact a patch could make, or even a chair sponsor, where you have so much airtime and so many people watching over the day is more powerful than what you would find at the World Series.”

There are perhaps some more dynamic streams out there for poker fans. Jason Somerville for example is born to both entertain and inform. Felix Schneiders is doing some very novel things with the format which I think all content creators can learn from. But you could argue that both those broadcasters have the luxury of a prexisting audience, a background in content creation and a major sponsor (Which, don’t get me wrong, they worked very hard to get).

But there is something very authentic about Jaime Staples in both the way he comes across as a person and the manner in which he has developed a Twitch following. Nobody quite knows what Twitch Poker will look like in a years time, like with any sort of groundbreaking disruptive new technology, but I am inclined to think PokerStaples will be looked back on as one of the early pioneers of poker on Twitch.

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