Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Twitch Talk

Have you looked at Twitch, that live streaming video platform that has been gaining some notice in the poker world over the last several months?

I’m trying to remember when I first heard of Twitch. I think it was last year at some point when I heard Marcel Luske talking about the site and playing on it occasionally as marcelluske, although I never looked in.

Twitch launched in 2011, and quickly became very popular among the multiplayer online gaming crowd. It took poker players a little while to find the site and start using it, with Luske and Jason Somerville among the first to gravitate to it. I did watch some of Somerville’s “Run It Up” sessions -- played under his jcarverpoker account -- which were both interesting and entertaining.

It was easy to see while watching Somerville how the medium would work well for poker coaching -- much like instructional videos, only live and even interactive (via chat). You can watch him for free, although it looks like those who subscribe for a few bucks per month get access to special sessions, too.

I learned a bit more about Twitch at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure where Somerville, James McManus, Lee Jones, and Barry Greenstein presented a panel about poker’s past, present, and future. It was there Somerville suggested how Twitch could well attract a lot of newcomers to poker, and how in his experience many of those tuning in to watch him weren’t already deep into the game (as one might expect).

I’ve looked at a few other Twitch streams over the last few weeks.

I watched David Sklansky playing tourneys on on a couple of occasions on the twoplustwo_poker account, his cockatoo perched on his shoulder and cats climbing all over him as he did. He offered lots of justifications for his nittiness while responding to comments and some often funny questions in chat.

I also looked in on Casey Jarzebek’s “Monday Night MTT Grind with Beers!” a couple of nights ago over on his bigdogpckt55 Twitch, watching him play several hands well and make good reads in a tournament, although by the time I looked in I think he’d imbibed enough for his self-commentary to be reduced to repeating how easy poker was for him while touting his training site. Still entertaining, tho’.

I’m imagining some real interesting applications of Twitch, including for covering both live and online tournaments. The GPI guys are already planning to use it in some fashion, apparently, for that Global Poker Masters event next month. The delay for these I’ve been watching is just three minutes, I think, which tightens the window even further from the usual half-hour or thereabouts usually observed for “almost live” streams, which I think might present issues if hole cards are shown.

I haven’t read any cultural critics discussing Twitch as yet, although I assume it is being viewed as a logical next step in social media, making it even more simple than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. for everyone to broadcast his or her own life as a performance, packaging and presenting themselves in ways that satisfy various predilections (including the desire to “monetize” one’s existence, if possible).

I’ll ask again... have you looked at Twitch? What do you think of its potential relevance to poker?

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