Twitch is branching out to support one of the oldest and most popular forms of gaming around. The video game streaming site purchased by Amazon back in August 2014 for $970 million has introduced the ability for poker players to broadcast their sessions.
According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Twitch started online poker streaming in November 2014. Like Twitch’s video game (or game developer) broadcasters, poker players can answer viewer questions during the live streams and provide feedback on their personal poker strategies. A four-minute delay prevents opponents from sneaking peeks at other players’ hands. Twitch’s Poker Partnerships Lead Scott Ball said some of these card game broadcasts already received over one million views.
“Like videogames [sic], poker is a game and we’ve grown that into a huge business,” Ball said to WSJ.
The move into poker streaming should help Twitch attract more advertisers from the gambling world, as well as brands interested in reaching the younger male audience who are attracted to the game. The World Poker Tour estimates more than 60 million people play poker in the U.S. alone, with over 100 million total players worldwide. And these numbers don’t take into account the number of online poker players.
“I can see advertisers and poker companies really buying into this,” said Eilers Research Managing Director Adam Krejcik. Krejcik’s firm studies the gambling industry, and he notes how “it’s a very passionate group with disposable income.”
Currently, poker players on Twitch can allow ads to show in their streams, or offer viewers a subscription option to turn them off. Twitch takes a 50% cut from both ads and subscriptions on its site, but it doesn’t generate any revenue from the poker games themselves. The only hindrance to streaming poker on Twitch are state laws. Currently, only New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada legally allow online gambling. Ball emphasized to WSJ that Twitch’s U.S. users must agree to the site’s terms of service, which don’t allow them to break any laws.
One way to get around these online gambling restrictions? Travel somewhere else. That’s what professional player Randy Lew told WSJ he does; the 29-year-old, Mountain View, California resident often heads to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (where online poker is legal) to stream his gaming sessions.
Other poker players plan to continue their streaming sessions on Twitch as the popularity of the broadcasts pick up steam. Professional poker player Jason Somerville said that starting in March, he wants to stream poker games for up to six hours a day for ten weeks. The Las Vegas citizen boasts 52,000 Twitch followers, and believes poker broadcasts will bring only good things to the live streaming site. “I think fans will find the potential of playing with me or another broadcaster from the comfort of their own home to be very appealing,” he said.
You can check out live poker sessions on Twitch’s poker directory.