Twitch has grown to become the leading streaming platform for video gaming with a huge number of eSports teams and well-known professionals and video game enthusiasts sharing their virtual endeavors with a large viewing audience. Since the very beginning, gaming and Twitch seemed to have hit it of perfectly, creating a situation favorable to everyone: the platform, players, and the audience.
In the midst of all that, online poker slowly found its way into the streaming community. Although much different from the video games seen on other popular channels, a number of players saw Twitch as an opportunity to popularize online poker and, potentially, earn something in the process.
With time, the popularity of online poker channels on Twitch has been growing, with some streamers, such as Tonka, Jaime Staples, and recently Doug Polk (WCGRider), have gathered quite a big following.
For the first time in a while, young people from the US, who mostly had no exposure to online poker, were introduced to the game. The interest is clearly there, even if some of these people have no real experience with poker, so the question is: could Twitch play a crucial role in reviving online poker in America?
Reinventing the US online poker boom via Twitch
Whichever way anyone would like to think about it, the fact is that the interest for online poker in the US has been on a rapid decline. This is perfectly normal because young generations have no particular interest in the game they can’t really play, and many seasoned players often don’t want to deal with all the problems that come with playing at offshore sites accepting signups from the States.
This is where Twitch comes in as one thing that could keep the flame burning and at least pique the interest of the young crowd that hangs out on the platform. With many good American-based players streaming their online poker efforts, these people have an opportunity, for the first time, to see what the game is all about, how it is played, and what kind of a potential it offers.
Many of those who see online poker streams reach out to streamers to find out more. Many of them aren’t even sure if the game is played for real money, which goes to show that the popularity of online poker in the United States has declined quite a bit. But, by exposing people to the game, especially when playing on the sites that actually accept US players, interest in the game is being kept alive.
Quality of poker streams is crucial
There are many good online poker players out there, without a doubt. However, not all of them are fit to be Twitch streamers. If the fire for online poker is to be rekindled with young potential players from the USA, there needs to be more than just quality poker.
The fact is, most of them don’t really know what it means to play good poker.
Those streamers who are good at interacting with their audiences, answering their questions (even if they sometimes seem “stupid”), and are able to hype the things up are the ones who can turn things for the better. This is especially true for the likes of Doug Polk, who often streams the play from the US-friendly or regulated sites, and it is somewhat disappointing he decided to move all of his streaming almost exclusively to YouTube.
The Twitch crowd can be quite demanding, especially in a sense they primarily seek entertainment, and playing good tight poker can oftentimes be rather dull. That’s why it is important to have a kind of personality and charisma to keep people interested and engaged throughout, creating in them a desire to explore what online poker has to offer. Otherwise, they’ll just move on to watch something else.
The snowball is rolling to increase poker site popularity to Americans
One problem Twitch online poker streamers have to face, though, is the fact that it is hard to get through to the audience and actually create a fan base. Those on the top, like jcarver, Tonka, and Staples, pretty much have a monopoly, as their streams are the ones that people always click on. For others looking to stream, this is somewhat disheartening and begs the question if it is worth their time.
Clearly, the more streams there are, the more exposure there is for online poker, which is crucial for the revival of the game popularity in the USA. However, one can hardly expect people to embrace these noble goals and put them before their personal ones.
So, Twitch could do and is already doing a lot for the popularity of online poker in the States, at least keeping things alive while we’re awaiting some kind of a regulation. Whether this will be enough and when we can expect a reasonable regulation to be enforced remains to be seen.