Does live streaming prevent poker players from playing their best?

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on: May 25, 2021 5:41 pm EDT

Andrew Neeme sparks a discussion on the balance between streaming and playing

Playing winning poker presents an enormous challenge, especially if you’re playing well enough to count poker as your profession. It’s amazing to contemplate the challenges faced by the pros who stream their games. Streaming demands them to play at the highest level possible while entertaining an audience of thousands of followers.

Live cash game specialist and vlogger Andrew Neeme posed a question to Twitter Monday, asking the poker streamer community to evaluate just how challenging it is to play their A-game and produce live stream coverage of those games at the same time:

“How much would you guess running a stream affects you from playing your A-game? If you’re at 100% grinding without an audience what are you at while streaming? How much has this changed over the years?” Neeme posted.

The fan-favorite poker vlogger tagged a collection of the game’s most popular streamers in the question. Americas Cardroom Team Pros like Vanessa Kade, Ebony Kenney, Jeff Boski, Jonathan Van Fleet, and Drew Gonzalez all put in significant hours playing online month after month, with many of those sessions streamed on Twitch for the world to see.

Live poker streamers not only have to play well enough to make money, but also put on a show aimed at gaining and maintaining subscribers and followers. Neeme’s query to the poker streamer community produced some interesting insights into just how demanding it is to live stream poker while maintaining a professional skill level.

ACR Team Pro Jeff Boski says his followers push him to play better

Jeff Boski, a longtime tournament specialist and an ACR Team Pro, contends that live streaming actually pushes him to play better. With the poker world watching, Boski says that he feels more accountable to make good decisions when playing on live stream:

“I find that streaming gives me more accountability to not punt it off,” Boski tweeted. “Taking the time to verbalize my thought process definitely helps me make more sound decisions.”

Poker streamers often take viewers through their thought processes on their play decisions, much like a poker coach. Boski went on the say that he usually plays eight tables instead of his normal 12 when he streams, but sees the lesser table volume as the only negative aspect of streaming.

Lex Veldhuis, perhaps the most prolific streamer in the game, commented that he plays his A-game in the biggest pots when live streaming. The PokerStars Team Pro has put in as many hours as anyone on live stream since starting one of poker’s most popular Twitch channels in 2016:

“Honestly, I think in the biggest pots I feel I can play 100%,” Veldhuis wrote. “The biggest problem with streaming is pre-folding 75o in the small blind, folding Q7o on the big blind. Folding J9ss on 852sxx, that sort of shit. That’s where you bleed the most because of multitasking imo.”

Veldhuis certainly produces the results that back up his view on streaming. Some other players, however, see live streaming as a significant hindrance to playing a winning game.

Dutch Boyd counts himself among that group. The three-time WSOP bracelet winner essentially said the exact opposite of what Boski and Veldhuis did, and added that streaming is especially challenging when playing on sites that don’t allow player tracking software:

“I’d estimate 30-40% while streaming,” Boyd wrote. “It’s a huge distraction and you tend to play on autopilot, and pay very little attention to what other players are doing. I suspect maybe it’s significantly worse on WSOP, which is what I streamed on, since they don’t allow HUDs.”

Other commenters on Neeme’s post include major streaming stars like Parker Talbot, Jaime Staples, Benjamin “Spraggy” Spragg, Fintan Hand, and Kevin Martin. The Twitter thread makes for one of the more interesting reads from the world of “Poker Twitter” so far this year.

One of the biggest names in the history of poker gave his insights as well, as ACR Team Pro Chris Moneymaker provided this take:

Want to learn more about the rules of poker? Take a look at Poker.org’s hand rankings chart.

Featured image source: Twitter