“Just a dude playing poker here to make a few videos and entertain some people along the way!”
His YouTube blurb might be humble, but just above that is Wolfgang Poker’s real brag, as he’s become the first poker influencer on YouTube to hit the magical one million subscriber milestone.
He announced that on his channel, saying, “We have been on a speed run over the past few months and we just recently hit a million subscribers, which is surreal to say. I had no idea that the journey would take me this far. It’s honestly just crazy to say that we’ve hit a million subscribers.”
To put his achievement in context, Daniel Negreanu has 783k subscribers, Brad Owen has 701k, and Doug Polk has 400k. That puts Wolfgang Poker at the top of a pretty exclusive list.
How did he do it? Sarah Herring spoke with him about his crazy journey and you can watch the full unexpurgated interview below, with some edited highlights underneath.
Sarah Herring: I cannot even begin to explain to you how humbled I am by you taking the time to join us here at PokerOrg.
Wolfgang Poker: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it, and yeah, it’s still pretty surreal to hear the number one million following my name. That’s pretty crazy. Four years ago, when I started the channel, I didn’t think I’d ever get to 100k, let alone a million.
Sarah Herring: It’s completely bananas. And I can see why though, you have a really lovely positive energy, but in a way that feels kind of relatable, I definitely get it. But I can also say there’s so many shticks out there. There’s so many people trash talking, causing drama and problems. There are lots of ways to get to the top. Your way seems to have been very rich with integrity. For the homies out there who don’t already know, explain to us how this started back in 2019. This was right before the world was about to change for a long time.
Wolfgang Poker: I’ve always played poker. Ever since I was, I don’t know, maybe 12, 14 years old. I had some buddies in Chicago that introduced me to the game. We thought we were playing poker back then, but really it was just flips. We each put in five bucks and I won the flip. I ran upstairs and I told my parents, I’m like… this is amazing, like I’m so good at poker. Just all luck. And then from there, we would play once a month in the Northern Chicago suburbs.
I went to Pepperdine for school, and as a Christian university, there aren’t many degenerates out there, but luckily I found a few of them, and we would do like weekend trips to play poker at Chumash up in Santa Barbara. Yeah, I just fell in love with playing poker.
Sarah Herring: Pepperdine is so gorgeous. Were you even considering content creation as an occupation as a young man at Pepperdine?
Wolfgang Poker: No, I wasn’t really considering much other than going to the beach and playing soccer a few times a week. But for all the people that are watching, I didn’t come from money. I still have student loans at the moment. So I just kind of went there on the whim and luckily it all worked out well. When you say you went to a school that costs 80k a year, that’s the first thing people say. And I have to be like, no, I’m actually still paying back student loans. You know, it was very expensive for me too. But no, I was an economics major and a German minor.
Sarah Herring: My mind was reeling there, too. I wasn’t gonna say anything, but I was like, oh, homeboy’s rich.
Wolfgang Poker: Actually, a fun fact, I don’t know if I’d said it on an interview before, but in my German class a year before me was a guy named Dan Zack. And if anyone in the poker world knows Dan Zack, he was the [WSOP] player of the year in 2022 and just an absolute crusher. I actually never met him in person, but we were in the same German class with the same professor. That’s pretty cool.
Sarah Herring: It’s such a weird, small world sometimes. It just blows my mind. But, you know, I think a mistake I’ve actually made in my life several times is thinking that a market is oversaturated and then later discovering like 10 years down the line that it was just the beginning. I think in 2019, if you would have told me, hey, I’m starting a poker vlog, I would have said, good luck, dude, there’s like 80,000 streamers and poker vlogs and Twitch things going on. So talk to me a little bit about the impetus, the hustle, the grind, the beginning of the channel.
Wolfgang Poker: Yeah, so it came to fruition, like, right at the end of 2019, early 2020. I had inspiration from TheTrooper, shout out to him, and Andrew Neeme. That’s kind of like the people I was binge-watching at the time. At the time, I had just graduated Pepperdine. I was deciding what to do with my life. I didn’t want to jump into a nine-to-five cubicle. And so I was starting to edit for other YouTubers while making my own prank videos. Then, a very large YouTuber’s filmer hit me up and said we like the way you edit these videos, could you do some for us? That person turned out to be Vitaly, a Russian prankster with millions of views.
He has a little bit of an interesting image at the moment, but from when I was working with him, he was a great dude. So I edited for him for a whole year, and I gained a lot of editing skills, which I was getting paid for it. And it was super important to me starting my own YouTube channel. Because once I saw some other people find success with poker vlogs… I was playing poker at that time at The Bike two to three times a week, I was editing for Vitaly and it was just natural then to do my own thing. The over saturation never crossed my mind.
I was making videos for Vitality that were getting millions of views. And so I knew how fast to cut it up, what graphics to use, some thumbnail and title ideas that other people weren’t doing. So from the beginning, my videos… I mean, I look back at them now and I’m like, that’s terrible. But the hardest thing is to start. And then once you start, you’ve just got to be consistent.
Sarah Herring: You talked about deciding to hire an editor after editing your first 100 videos. I can only imagine the amount of bandwidth that goes into playing and shooting, and editing and distributing.
Wolfgang Poker: Yeah, it was a pretty seamless transition. So I’ve had two editors. My first guy was named Gil, and he came on after the first 100 videos. And then Lucas just came on a little over a year ago. When I handed off to Gil after the first 100, I’m like, do I really need to hand it off? Like the amount of money it saves by me doing it on my own and the personal touch is super cool.
But the catalyst for me doing that was I wanted to go on a road trip for three months through Arizona, Texas, and then into Florida. It was impossible for me to do and post regularly. Once I gave Gil the reins, it was just amazing. Plus editors are just better than me. Gil was amazing for that time. And then Lucas now in this era is just amazing with shorts specifically. He just completely changed my short game. I wouldn’t have gotten to a million subs without either of them.
Sarah Herring: Talk to me about who you think your core audience is.
Wolfgang Poker: I think each piece of content touches a different demographic, and specifically, each platform does. I realized this pretty early on. Facebook is the older generation primarily. TikTok and Instagram reels are a lot of like high-school home games and younger college kids, which is awesome. And then YouTube is the very dedicated older fans and some of like the smart crushers. Each platform has its own algorithm, which is cool.
It’s changing. It’s crazy how much is now at your fingertips in terms of AI. A lot of our thumbnails, my guy Lucas, he does with AI. He’ll take a pixelated image from a screenshot of the live stream. He’ll run it through an AI programme and it’ll upscale it and make it super crisp, almost like you’re taking it on a Canon camera. It’s just like crazy stuff that no one really knows about and sees.
Sarah Herring: Dude, you’re going to be able to make a movie on your phone that looks amazing in three years. It’s definitely changing. I was watching your video when you were talking about other people questioning your subs. I’m like, who are these people? What is going on? Tell us about the juicy drama.
Wolfgang Poker: I even got one on the video where I showed an in-depth, non-screenshotted image of where the subs are coming from and two or three people commented that they still think I’m buying subs. It makes absolutely no sense. I literally just showed you one short got me 200K subs. I’m not buying subs when they’re literally giving them to me for free.
Sarah Herring: Does it become demotivating to do long-form content because the energy that goes into it is so much more, and the numbers are much harder to get?
Wolfgang Poker: Yeah, I see that point. And it is demotivating and also a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it, honestly. And also, I’m a competitive person. So right now, there’s no one getting more short views than myself, right? But there’s still more people who are getting more long-form views. That’s kind of what motivates me. It’s like I’ve hit a million subs, I’m getting the most amount of shorts views, I have the most-followed poker channel on the internet… But I can’t just say okay I’m done, let’s go to Costa Rica for eight years. That’s not gonna happen. I want to be better for myself too.
Sarah Herring: You told me you’re about to go to Paradise for the WSOP. Is this tournament circuit maybe part of what we can expect to see from you in 2024? Jumping on the tournament grind?
Wolfgang Poker: A little bit, yeah. I’m definitely never going to be a grinder, for many different reasons. One, you have to study a lot more in a completely different niche. And then, just like the grind of it, you can play for two, three days and min cash, and you’re bummed or bust, and then you’re just even more bummed. But more so than that, the content doesn’t do really good. And I don’t really classify myself as a poker pro, I’m a content creator. So if the videos don’t do as well unless you make a final table and you’re only final tabling like one out of every x amount of times. it just really doesn’t make a lot of sense. That being said I love to travel so I will always go to a fun location for a few days if it’s worth it.
Sarah Herring: What were your highlights for 2023, and what do you have on the horizon for 2024?
Wolfgang Poker: The highlights were hitting 100k and a million subs in the same year. That’s pretty cool. Other highlights were playing my biggest pot ever, which was at the Tropicana, a $29k pot. I hit a flush on the turn, some dude flopped Broadway and I got him in that. Another highlight would have been playing $50/$100 at the lodge with Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme and Mariano.
In terms of what is on the horizon, a lot of fun stuff. So I’m going on a long trip in January for my aunt’s birthday. She’s taking us to Antarctica. That’ll be a really cool experience that I’m looking forward to.
Poker-wise, we have this celebrity invitational tournament that I’m running back. It happened in Vegas at the Poker Go studio a few months ago. So I’m doing that, I think, in February. And my goal for 2024 is just to play in more cool games, meaning unique opportunities. So obviously, I’ll keep traveling to casinos and playing live streams and meet-ups.
Sarah Herring: I have just enjoyed getting to know you so much, and I very much look forward to seeing you on the circuit, on the scene. And for those who don’t already follow, where can they find you?
Wolfgang Poker: Wolfgang Poker… on Instagram and YouTube, and Wolfgang Poker Bang on TikTok.
You can join the million+ susbscribers on Wolfgang Poker’s YouTube channel.