One of the biggest trends in online poker right now involves livestreaming. Famous pros can broadcast their online poker sessions through Twitch and entertain their followers at the same time. This has helped players like Felix ‘xflixx’ Schneiders, Jaime Staples and Jason Somerville gain massive followings on their Twitch stream.
In Somerville’s case, he has almost 150,000 followers and has parlayed his fan base into a lucrative sponsorship deal with PokerStars. In just two years, the 28-year-old has managed to transform his ‘Run It Up’ series (previously on YouTube) into the ideal model for Twitch poker streamers. But just how much further can Somerville boost his popularity with online poker traffic now on a steady decrease? As we’ll discuss below, it all has to do with what happens with U.S. poker regulation.
Twitch Livestreaming could explode as US Online Poker expands
The problem with the American iPoker market is that it’s currently only regulated in three states: Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. The rest of the country either doesn’t play online poker, or they rely on black-market sites that could close up tomorrow with their deposit money. But as Whittier Law School professor I. Nelson Rose told The New Yorker, it won’t be long until other states begin legalizing iGaming.
“There is now so much legal gambling in this country that legalizing one more form, like internet poker, is no big deal politically,” said Rose. The New Yorker also speculates that if/when iPoker spreads throughout the U.S., Twitch’s popularity will quickly increase as well and reach a younger generation. This is especially the case when you consider that over half of Somerville’s Twitch audience is based in America.
Could Twitch launch a Poker Boom?
A common discussion among poker players is how another boom could be ignited, like the one that occurred from 2003-06. The more it gets discussed, the less likely it seems that the exact elements from that time period could fall into place and recreate the boom. However, there’s potential for Twitch to cause some type of large upswing in the number of poker enthusiasts.
“The first poker boom came, in part, from television teaching the game to people,” said Eric Hollreiser, the head of corporate communications for PokerStars. “Twitch represents the next-generation opportunity to have that channel of communication with consumers.”
Of course, going back to the original point, much of poker’s livestreaming growth is tied in with U.S. online gaming regulation. But the two aspects could definitely have a synergistic effect as more cash-strapped states begin to legalize and regulate online poker. And sure, this won’t lead to the Moneymaker boom, but at least it will get more people on the virtual poker tables.