Twitch is a live video streaming portal that’s become a hotbed of poker talent. The Twitch poker community is one of the most vibrant subsectors on this platform, along with the fast-growing world of Esports.
With the right equipment, any online poker player can live stream their cash game or tournament sessions by sharing their screen with viewers. Twitch launched in June 2011, and in the last decade, it’s become a genuine rival to YouTube in the live streaming stakes.
Poker enthusiasts are drawn to live poker streams on Twitch for two reasons – a) they get the chance to interact with their poker heroes, and b) they are passionate about learning and improving their own poker strategies.
Evolution of poker streaming on Twitch
The first poker professional to live stream their poker sessions on Twitch was Jason Somerville. In many ways, Somerville is the ‘godfather’ of Twitch poker. Just three years after Twitch’s launch, Somerville started live streaming his poker sessions, eventually forming a Twitch poker community called RunItUp. His live poker streams on Twitch proved a big hit, becoming the first poker pro to attract over ten million viewers on a channel.
In the infancy of Twitch poker streams, it was only Somerville and Jaime Staples who had active Twitch channels. Staples, a Canadian poker pro, has been a major online poker tournament player. Today, his channel has an active follower base of approximately 158,000 users.
Over the years, the Twitch poker ecosystem has expanded. Many of the leading online poker rooms have live-streamed their own events and employed their own brand ambassadors to develop a following on Twitch. The likes of PokerStars, 888poker and GGPoker are all still heavily active on Twitch today.
The Twitch revolution also ushered in dedicated poker media networks like PokerGO, which not only live stream poker content on Twitch but broadcast live poker events on their social platforms.
The impact of Twitch poker streaming
If you consider yourself to be a visual learner, Twitch poker streams will be a very effective way to learn and evolve your poker game. Today, there are hundreds of live poker streamers on the platform, all of whom specialise in their own niches, be it micro stakes, pot limit Holdem or Omaha or even short-handed games. Whichever poker niche you want to improve in, you can find a streamer to engage with.
If you’re a casual or even semi-pro poker player, watching and learning from full-time players is an enjoyable exercise. You can watch them in a competitive environment and experience how the best pros handle certain scenarios, providing inspiration to feed into your own decision-making at the tables.
Live poker streaming on platforms like Twitch also breathed new life into the online poker industry at a time when the initial ‘boom’ had subsided. Jaime Staples said his first streams were watched by no more than 25 people at their peak. In a matter of years, that figure has soared to thousands of viewers per stream. Twitch poker has not only reconnected with casual poker players who may have fallen out of love with the game but it’s also embraced the next generation of Gen Z enthusiasts.
Twitch poker streaming – a peek behind the scenes
What’s great about poker streaming on Twitch is its low barrier to entry. Literally, anyone can do it so long as you have the hardware. Twitch’s recommended PC specifications for live streamers include a minimum of 8GB of memory, at least a Windows 10 operating system and an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD equivalent at least. For rock-solid streaming with minimal latency or freezing, quad or hex-core CPUs and at least 5-10mb/s upload speeds are highly recommended.
Integrated graphics cards should be powerful enough for online poker tables without the need to invest in dedicated graphics cards. However, you shouldn’t scrimp on a good microphone as the clarity of your speech and the general stream will influence engagement levels.
It’s obviously important for Twitch poker streamers to abide by copyright and community guidelines at all times. There are also restrictions on gambling-related Twitch streams these days. However, as it is deemed a game of skill rather than chance, online poker is permitted for live coverage. Any budding Twitch poker streamer should be mindful of the local laws regarding online poker. Some jurisdictions still prohibit the pastime, so be careful who you engage with.
The monetisation of Twitch poker channels is achieved through multiple avenues. Followers can make ad-hoc donations and also pay to become fully-fledged subscribers, giving them exclusive rights on the live stream, like access to custom emoticons. Typically, poker streamers on Twitch will generate between $0.25-$4.50 per 1,000 impressions in ad income too.
Becoming a successful Twitch poker streamer
There are three key tips we recommend to grow your channel organically within the Twitch poker community:
- Be consistent with your streaming schedule. If you want to grow your follower base, you need to stream at set times, encouraging new and regular viewers to check out your channel.
- If you want a vibrant community on your Twitch poker channel, engage viewers with nuggets of advice. Be prepared to respond to questions from viewers on poker strategy and theory in the live chat. It all helps to cement you as a poker personality and an expert.
- Be sure to focus hard on improving your own poker game. If you can’t evolve and take your own poker game to greater heights, how can you be expected to motivate viewers to improve themselves?
Spotlight on successful Twitch poker streamers
Below, we shine a light on a handful of poker personalities who are the beating heart of the Twitch poker community today:
Dutch streamer Veldhuis (main image) has been streaming live on Twitch for over six years and now has an active follower base of 313,000 viewers. He also happens to be a member of Team PokerStars, so you can catch Veldhuis playing any of their biggest online poker events.
Kevin “K-Mart” Martin
Canadian streamer Kevin Martin has been part of GGPoker’s ‘Stream Squad’ since 2021. Martin is a poker pro but also shot to notoriety, having appeared twice on the Canadian series of Big Brother.
This French poker player has shot to notoriety on Twitch after landing a string of big-time paydays. Six-figure wins in WSOP Shootout and Super High Roller Bowl Europe events have cemented him as a live and online poker icon.
Ben “Spraggy” Spragg is a British poker player that’s become another prominent PokerStars ambassador. Spraggy is a fun streamer with a dry sense of humour. He also happens to be a huge success story, landing World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) titles in 2020 and 2021.
The future of Twitch poker streaming
There is no doubt that Twitch poker is on an upward trajectory. As of March 2023, Twitch had more than 2.4 million concurrent viewers on average. That’s a huge step change from the 100 million monthly viewers on Twitch in 2015. Twitch streams across all topics and niches are fast becoming a source of entertainment as well as education, with some poker fans putting the best live streams on the same pedestal as classic poker tv shows like Late Night Poker.
The biggest question mark over poker streaming on Twitch is the potential for the platform to ban poker streams altogether. Streamed gambling content has been a major talking point in the Twitch community in the last 12 months, and, for now, poker, sports betting and fantasy sports content remain allowed.
On the whole, Twitch poker personalities have reconnected with many disengaged casual poker players in recent years. They’ve also encouraged first-time players to take up the game and build on the momentum from the 2000s. The demand for new educational and entertaining poker content also makes Twitch streaming a credible side hustle for poker pros due to the plethora of revenue streams.
Take some time to view the poker personalities listed above and see how the biggest names on Twitch go about their business.