To Twitch Or Not To Twitch

With over 100,000 followers, Jason Somerville is the most popular poker player on Twitch.

After many recommendations and much consideration, I have finally decided to broadcast some of my poker sessions on Twitch. It’s not something that I am 100% sold on, but I now believe that the pros outweigh the cons.

Twitch Pros

This year at the World Series of Poker, I meet a ton of people who have followed my poker career over the past couple of years. Someone asked me if I was “The” Carlos Welch. Still haven’t completely wrapped my head around that one. Another guy stopped as he was walking past me to say “Are you Carlos? I thought I recognized that voice from the Thinking Poker Podcast.” There was one young guy from England who said he was so inspired by my life nittiness that he walked the two miles from Circus Circus to the Rio because he didn’t want to pay for a cab.

Apparently, being a cheap, homeless bum trying to make his way in the poker world is a compelling story. Twitch gives me a way to connect with these wonderful people on a more personal level.

The weirdest thing about the attention I got this year is that I am not even a professional poker player. If anything, I consider myself a professional poker student. At my current skill level, I don’t believe that I am able to make a long term career as a poker player. I have to look for other ways to keep the dream alive as I continue to get better. This is the biggest reason why I have decided to stream. Twitch will allow me to reach a larger audience and hopefully boost my notoriety.

Along with this will come more readers for my articles, more requests for interviews, and more people asking me to coach them for a fee. Who knows? Maybe I will even get a ton of viewers like Jason Somerville and make a living from Twitch money alone. I’m not counting on it, but I guess anything is possible. All of this makes it sound very appealing, but I do have my reservations.

Twitch Cons

For one, I consider my online poker time to be sacred. After writing and studying all day, I can’t wait to fire up my favorite tournaments and grind all night. I’m a pretty quiet person and I enjoy no one’s company quite like my own. If I stream, not only will I be inviting others into my sanctuary, but many of the guests of honor will be internet trolls, and I really hate internet trolls. This is the reason I block chat on poker sites and disregard destructive criticism on the articles I write.

Constructive criticism is always welcome, but some people just get off on being mean. I can’t stroll though the comments on a YouTube video without getting bombarded by trolls who pretend to believe that guys who look like me are beneath them. They don’t really believe the things they say. This is just how they entertain themselves online. As my Twitch channel hopefully gains popularity, I will be leaving my front door open for these villains to come through. There are some people I just don’t want to have a chat with.

On days I choose not to stream, I can still bask in the sweet silence of shirtless solitude.

One of the good things about Twitch is the ability to ban people or go into subscribers only mode. This means that the only viewers who are allowed to chat would be those who paid a $5 subscription to support the channel for a month. Even the most curmudgeonly troll would not go that far out of his way to hate. Sure that takes care of the trolls, but what about the guys who watch for the right reasons?

I’m sure there will be a few guys who will really like what I am doing and decide to put their money where their hearts are. When people root for me to that extent, I feel eternally grateful. I worry that on Twitch, this gratitude may cause me to focus more on their questions and entertainment needs in the chat box than on the game itself. Like troll induced tilt, this too could become an EV leak. The bright side is that I can end the stream whenever I want. Plus, I don’t have to Twitch every time I play.

I don’t know how it will turn out, but I am going to give this Twitch thing a shot and see where it leads.

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