If you want to improve your own online poker game, one of the best ways is to watch other talented people play the game you've grown to love. Even for those not interested in mastering the craft that is playing poker, simply enjoying being a spectator and living the action through a screen can be highly entertaining.
Thankfully, Twitch.tv manages to offer both types of poker fans a simple solution for watching and streaming videos of others playing poker online. At the most recent TwitchCon event held in the US state of California, the company announced a series of improvements that should help poker enthusiasts stream games even easier!
Twitch is a relatively new social video streaming service that launch in 2011. Originally designed for the benefit of video games enthusiasts who wished to stream playthroughs of their games, it’s since grown to include many different industries, including music videos, creative arts and gambling.
Twitch currently has more than 15 million daily users, with year-on-year revenue up by 71%. Of those 15 million, 2.2 million are unique content creators, 25,000 are members of the Twitch Partner program, and over 110,000 are members of the Twitch Affiliate program. Those numbers alone are enticing to pretty much every marketer.
Content on Twitch can be anything from watching someone complete a game, to content built around specific challenges in a game. eSports tournaments and the betting markets covering them are on the rise, and Twitch broadcasts them all, along with features about teams, leagues and talk shows with the top players.
Poker players and tournaments have now started setting up dedicated Twitch channels in their name or branding. The Twitch channel allows spectators to shop directly for goods or services, and also allows hosts to link to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The sharp rise in poker can be attributed in a large part to WSOP bracelet-winner Jason 'jcarverpoker' Somerville. After he parted ways with Ultimate Poker, Somerville settled on Twitch as his new home and set up a new channel called Run It Up, which has over 50,000 followers and over 10 million views and counting. Somerville explained:
"I don't think televised poker really evolved too much after the hole card camera was introduced, especially in America. I feel like poker's best fit is on the Internet, where you can stream whatever you want, whenever you want, for as long as you want. And not only is it cheaper and more cost-efficient, but it also makes more sense for poker.
"People have just found some amount of connectivity watching me play with my hole cards up on a four-minute delay. I just talk through my decisions and serve as a tour guide to poker, showing them why I love the game and the cool things that I see. These are people who are new to poker who are now seeing it like an e-sport."
Twitch is obviously aware that its market had grown beyond the initial conception of video games. Twitch CEO Emmett Shear announced a number of changes and new features at its annual TwitchCon event held in Long Beach in October that are designed to make streaming more of an event.
The first big update is a brand-new dashboard that will finally offer Twitch users valuable insight into the behaviours of its followers. This will allow channel runners to analyse what videos work best or have the most response, to try and continue that push going forward.
Another feature which could be relevant to poker games and tournaments is a Premiere tool. If a specific channel has a premiere of a show or live broadcast that it wants to build anticipation for, this tool will allow users to generate more buzz and awareness of the event, to better advertise or communicate it to the masses.
However, one of the most important new tools announced, specially for poker channels, is the Raid command. Compared to video game channels, Twitch poker channels are only now finding their feet. The Raid functionality sends all of your viewers on your stream to another channel automatically after your stream has ended.
For example, if Somerville's 'jcarverpoker' account wanted to help out a new poker channel by sending his followers their way, he can do so by selecting this option. Poker players will be used to being able to choose which rooms they visit to play cards, but with Twitch, all streamers are participating in one room.
Twitch is going to allow content creators to make multiple rooms that will remain open to chatting even when the stream’s ended. This allows content creators to create exclusive content for certain rooms, as well as grow their ‘tribe’ of followers. Overall, Twitch's commitment to poker and its streams is clear!