"A lot of people get worked up in the beginning," says Jaime Staples. "Thinking 'How does this work? How do I stream?'"
That's becoming an increasingly common query among online poker players of late. If you're thinking of starting your own Twitch stream yourself, then this is the article for you.
Earlier today, in the Players' Lounge of the King's Casino in Rozvadov, Staples, Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, and Randy 'nanonoko' Lew sat down for a live Q&A that was broadcast on the very platform they were here to discuss. As you'd expect from three of poker's brightest Twitch stars, it proved to be very insightful.
Getting your stream up and running
Staples: "When a lot of people try to start steaming - like me, I'm a dreamer! - they go out and spend $5K on equipment. But the content should be the first thing. Unless you're wealthy, you really don't need to push that. There are a lot of resources to help you get off the ground."
ElkY: "It's pretty easy actually, just start streaming! You don't have to have the best set up. A stable connection is quite important, but besides that it's easy. Especially for poker, you can do it anywhere on any computer."
nanonoko: "As you start to build an audience, if you have any technical issues the chat always knows what to do! They'll tell you where to go, which helps if you're not savvy."
What should you be streaming?
nanonoko: "My strengths are cash games so I enjoy streaming them, but I want to learn tournament poker as I see people having great success in them and I want that too! But I also don't want to stray too far from my roots.
"One of things I struggled with in the beginning is that I used to play a lot of tables, but obviously that's not always smooth sailing. Now if I'm playing tournaments, like during the SCOOP, I'll cut down tables. Knowing how to multitask is important, but speaking to your audience is one of the things you should never drop. If you're not doing that, you shouldn't stream."
ElkY: "Yeah, really enjoying talking to your audience is the most important thing. Talk to the chat and see what content they want. You can tweak it a little bit as you go, but the most important thing is to have a laugh."
Staples: "This is one of the things I find most fascinating about Twitch. There are streams that people watch just for strategy, and others where people just want to laugh at you. There are so many opportunities to grow if you're considering streaming.
"When it comes to the creative side, don't limit yourself with rules. Just go for it. Do your thing, and see what people react too. There's a formula out there right now, but there are so many different things you could explore."
nanonoko: "If you take shots on big tournaments you don't normally play, it might be entertaining, but it's very important to understand that poker is a long run game. Don't overly play to what you think your audience will like. Don't put yourself in a situation where you're taking big shots all the time and you have to constantly build back your bankroll."
Growing your stream and building an audience
Staples: "You need to provide value to the people. Think about why they would want to watch you. It could be about being an instructor, or it could be due to your sense of community. There are endless options. Something that really helped me in the beginning was going the extra mile to connect with my audience. So when I saw that someone had been watching me everyday for a week, I would go and talk to them, wish them luck in the Sunday Million that week, things like that."
nanonoko: "It's important to be yourself and have fun. Don't try and be someone you're not. Twitch is a thing where you need to put in the hours. There are different personality types that people look for; some more strategic, others not so much strategy but just having fun.
"People used to come to my stream thinking "Oh we're gonna get some of this guy's strategy". Now they come thinking "Oh, today he might cook some bacon!""
ElkY: "I agree. Streaming is going to distract your from your game, but if you enjoy it a lot, you have to interact. You can tweak it, if you don't talk too much strategy you can play more tables, but if not, you grow through interaction."
Staples: "It's an interesting balancing act as a broadcaster. In the beginning you can really connect with people when you have less viewers. Bringing your emotions to the surface creates a more interesting product. Nothing is fake."