Over 13 years ago, Jason ‘JCarver’ Somerville posted his first clip to YouTube. He would go on to spend much of the next decade living his life on video, streaming the highs and lows of the online poker grind – mostly highs – to a dedicated fanbase. Sponsorships, live events and an army of fans would follow as he built up a seemingly unstoppable momentum.
And then, as he tells Sarah Herring in an exclusive interview for PokerOrg, he did the one thing no one expected him to do. He stopped.
“At the peak of the streaming career we were getting an average of 4,000 humans watching at any given minute,” Somerville says, “which over the course of eight hours is a hundred thousand humans cycling through. And I streamed seven days a week for years, so we served, like, two billion minutes of poker content. So millions and millions of humans got a little taste of my existence.
“I just didn’t want to take a break because people were going to go watch somebody else. And I just refused to allow that to happen. But on the other hand, I caused myself some, I don’t want to call it trauma, but like when I think about streaming now, my brain is like, ‘I don’t want to stream 182 days in a row’.”
Click below for the full interview.
Feeding the fame monster
“The fame monster, you know, you create this thing, people wanna be famous and successful and whatever, but it’s a monster and you can’t just do it and leave it alone,” Somerville explains, “the monster needs to be fed. And when you feed it once, it just needs to be fed more.
“Once you get stuck into the poker world, you typically do very little besides poker: poker business, poker reading, poker study,” he continues, “I always felt like my biggest competitive advantage was my work ethic. And that came at a cost, in that I burned out…Did I squander the momentum? One thing I have learned is that when the boulder is rolling, the boulder is hard to stop. But when the boulder has stopped, it’s very hard to get it to roll.”
To the joy of his many fans, taking time out of the game has helped Somerville recharge his batteries.
“Once I was off that train, I started to learn. I learned about what the trees were in my backyard. And I did yoga, and other things, and I read books about completely unrelated things. I just have been doing other things and I don’t feel too regretful for that.”
So, how does he feel about getting the boulder rolling again?
“I have 58 good ideas on a spreadsheet. But I can’t do them without being ‘the guy’, right? And look, I might be ‘the guy’ again tomorrow. You never know. But yeah, you don’t just do one piece of content and say goodbye…you’ve got to keep doing more.
“And if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to promote it on social media. And hey, if you’re going to stream on Twitch, you really should make YouTube shorts and you really should be posting on Instagram…And next thing you know, you’re feeding the monster. The monster is remade. So, yeah, that has got me into a bit of a decision paralysis.”
Somerville’s recent appearances as a commentator on Poker Night in America have excited fans, and he’s ready to consider switching the cameras back on, but in a way that would get him out of the house more than he was in the past.
“I have a natural curiosity about regulated online poker in the states…what is it like? I don’t know. I would be curious to create a mini-series where I went to these places and streamed a bunch.
“I think people would like it, and I definitely think I would like it. And as long as I tried to take some breaths and did some yoga and talked to Sarah Herring once in a while, life would be fine.”
Hey, it works for us. Now go hit the play button above for the whole interview.
Additional image courtesy of the WPT