The World Poker Tour shot new life into their brand when they took a chance on inking poker vloggers as brand ambassadors. Their bet paid off with Andrew Neeme – whose popularity skyrocketed with Brad Owen and their Meet-Up Games – and he’s become a face for a new generation of poker personalities.
Neeme’s been with the WPT for only 18 months and his quick rise to the top of the game has been a whirlwind. “It’s been pretty much as awesome as one might expect,” he said through a smile. “I’ve been to different corners of the world – Cambodia, Australia and a bunch of different spots around the US – which is something that I never could have foreseen.”
“There’s a lot of surreal things about it. So much of it is nonstop,” he said. “I’m thinking about the next video, the next session – so you have to pause to think about these things. Once you do, it’s like, ‘Wow, this has been really wild.’”
“On the other hand, I’ve also been at this vlog thing for seven years now,” Neeme said. “The people in the comments like to remind me how different I looked from when I started. I’ve got a bunch more grey hairs now.”
The Meet-Up Games
The fans and players in the MUGs usually have an insight to Neeme’s game from his YouTube channel. But he doesn’t shy away from opening up about his strategy. “There are some benefits to documenting your hands. When you go street by street and every detail in the hand, you put a spotlight on the hands you like to play,” he said.
The MUG game before the Main Event drew an interest list that filled over a dozen tables. Neeme and Owen moved around the room trying to play with everyone that showed up – some drove as far as ten hours.
“Originally, I thought I could use the vlog to promote a regular game in Vegas,” said Neeme. “But I never could have imagined it would be a traveling event and we’d get 150 people on the list in a casino on the other side of the country to come hang out and support this concept. It’s really cool to see.”
From time to time though, Neeme still gets humbled a little but it’s something he takes in stride with a smile.
Neeme’s friends and family from outside the game have a bit of a hard time understanding exactly what is that he does. “Whenever something more mainstream pops up like a WPT cash game on TV, they see me and realize that I’m not wasting my life away in the corner of a casino somewhere,” he said. “They see I’m doing something with real production value.”
“I did a podcast on The Ringer that went really well and things like that resonate a little more to varying degrees,” Neeme said.
Neeme has a lot more commitments than he’s had before between WPT production, editing his own videos and co-owning a card room in Texas. With so many different commitments, he’s learned how to become a real pro and sharpen his game.
“There are some benefits to it (being busy),” he said. “Overall, I think it makes it tougher to really dial in and be a professional poker player. You only have so much energy and poker is a very competitive endeavor. When you’re stacking creativity on top of competition, it’s tough to do everything great.”
Photos courtesy of WPT