Live streaming in the online poker world has become all the rage in recent months and now that trend seems to have trickled down into the live arena.
Now adding a new layer of engagement and excitement to poker broadcasts, these provisions were in force this summer in the highly touted Super High Roller Cash Game at the Aria.
Ever since Twitch launched its dedicated poker portal, the number of online grinders showing off their skills and guiding the next generation of grinders has skyrocketed. From the likes of Jamie Staples and Jason Somerville “twitching” cash game action from their PokerStars accounts, to amateur players highlighting their progress in MTTs such as 32Red Poker’s Survivor Sunday, live streaming is now an integral part of the community.
However, this movement into the world of online poker by live streaming platforms such as Twitch is just the start of things to come. Indeed, while the 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) was rumbling on in the background this summer, a $400/$800 game featuring some of the toughest cash game grinders in the world, including Patrik Antonius, Dan Coleman and Scott Seiver, was taking place in the Aria. What’s more, fans around the world were able to watch the action live courtesy of Twitch.
Seeing Double at the Aria
Although the Aria Casino and the production company, Poker Central, had clearly spent a lot of time ensuring both the game and the stream flowed as smoothly as possible, they couldn’t be sure the action would generate any interest. Indeed, live streaming is a fantastic concept, but if the players don’t deliver then it becomes a fruitless exercise.
For example, if a player decided to stream a $1/$2 cash game from inside 32Red’s virtual platform, the stream would barely attract any views if the player wasn’t willing to play any hands. Moreover, if the host of the stream wasn’t charismatic enough to dramatise his own action it wouldn’t be much of a stream. Fortunately, however, the product team was aware of this and drafted in a string of action players, as well as experienced live streamer and professional poker player Jamie Staples to commentate on the action.
This combination of world-class players, high stakes and colour commentary all made for a highly-entertaining stream. In fact, as if it was a gift from the poker gods, a mishap with the deck halfway through the cash game added an extra element of spice to the live stream.
Following a pre-flop battle between Douglas Polk and Dan Coleman, the action naturally moved towards the flop as it commonly does. However, after watching the dealer burn and turn the first three community cards, the action was brought to an abrupt halt after two cards of the same value hit the felt.
While some may have initially thought they were seeing double, the dealer had actually laid out an As Qc Qc flop. Although the mistake was quickly spotted by a number of people and flagged up in the stream’s chatbox, it took the table a few moments to spot the issue and pause the action temporarily.
A Little Drama Goes a Long Way
Fortunately, the issue was solved within an instant and, according to the rules, each active player had their money returned as if the hand never happened.
This was later clarified by the game’s commentator, Jamie Staples, who explained on 2+2 that everyone was eventually happy with the decision and play was able to resume as normal.
“This was confirmed terrifying ha ha. Thankfully everything worked out and the people in production and the Aria staff made it clear what happened, and what was to happen,” wrote Staples.
Although the mishap caused a few hearts to flutter, it was one that was easily resolved and one that added some extra drama to what was already a highly entertaining stream. In fact, the incident served to highlight why live streaming is becoming such a popular medium for poker players and operators.
Because literally anything could happen, there’s an added layer of excitement that pre-recorded shows just don’t have. This element of unpredictability and suspense is what keeps people tuning in and the reason why live streams are being seen as the next growth area in the poker industry.
Indeed, this summer’s antics showed that airing live games online via sites such as Twitch is not only good for ratings, but good for the overall image of the game. Poker is built on drama and the more action viewers get to see live, the better.