Twitch and the Dream Stream

(Image: geekandsundry.wikia.com)

So, I have been very interested in Twitch for several months now. I remember first hearing about this concept and thinking what a great idea it was. I created a name (JeffGrossPoker) on it and started to pop in from time to time to watch some of the main poker streamers such as Jason Sommerville and Jaime Staples.

I thought they did a really good job and instantly so many ideas, concepts and thoughts rushed into my head. I love poker, I love people, I love entertaining = I love Twitch! I then became more and more involved and would study and watch, taking notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like on various streams.

One thing led to another and finally I reached out to a friend, Dan O’ Brien, who was streaming, and got me some info on how to take the next step. I spoke to Scott Ball, who is in charge of the poker team at Twitch, and with a few steps I was verified and eligible to start streaming. It is not so simple as to just turn on your webcam and fire away; no, no and no.

I could write an entire article and just get through the first steps of what it takes to stream but I will just mention a few of the hurdles. You need to get OBS setup, you need to have a stream design, you need tech help for how to use OBS, you need moderators and many other tools as well. There are gaming computers, and you can’t really use an apple computer to stream, special microphones, special camera, the list goes on.  Then you need the vision, the drive and the time.

Having those, even then you really need to be out of the USA so you can stream on Pokerstars. Of course, you could stream ACR, Bovada, various other gray area sites, or live in Nevada or New Jersey and stream on WSOP/888/PartyPoker. But let’s face it, that isn’t super exciting. The prize pools are low, the software is not top notch and it just doesn’t have the spice as playing in the Pokerstars MTT majors or Spin N’ Go’s for example. It can work time to time, but my experience is that is hard to tune into and watch seriously for an extended period of time.

So here we go. With all this info I began to build my foundation. I learned of a great stream designer out of Croatia purely by chance, (Vedran who I recommend as highly as you can recommend someone) who has gone above and beyond with what could be expected. I came up with the idea for my show, called The Poker Flow Show.

I love the word flow. To me, it’s about; energy, life, creating, positivity, moving forward.  Flow and Show rhyme and as some of you may know now by the stream, I love to rhyme (even being referred to as the Eminem of poker by some twitter remarks) as well as write poetry (to my fiancé in particular).  I then bought the domain names for ThePokerFlowShow and PokerFlowShow and got that all handled.  Next was unifying my various social platforms to one common name, JeffGrossPoker which is now across the board on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and through websites.

Only twitter was unable to have the name changed over, I am @jgross5 on there, although I do also have the JeffGrossPoker one.  I then researched the best computer system to have and had a super serious desktop built through Origin who hooked it up in a big way.  I have that parked and setup in Vegas for twitch streaming. This is great, other than the whole no pokerstars deal! Hopefully in the next few years.

With knowing I would be on the road a ton, I then got another laptop for streaming.  I tried a Razer laptop initially, which came highly recommended for gaming, but had some serious fan cooling issues and had to abort last second. I was headed to Brazil for the month and needed something fast. I ended up getting an Alienware laptop and it has worked beautifully. I can’t fit it in my backpack so I have to carry it by hand. This is a pain, but no one said it would be easy!  I also carry a professional microphone around, which is not shy of 10 pounds, a camera, HDMI cable, mouse, or mouse pad.  Streaming on the go is not ideal but I am on a mission.

I had streamed a few times without any social media alerts just to test it out and see how it would go. It is a little overwhelming to be honest. You need to set your OBS settings, put on delays, and have enough internet bandwidth which has prevented me from streaming several times while traveling (Latin America in particular). I did a solid test in Munich, Germany after the WSOP Berlin had finished when stopping to see friends there.

The lighting was bad, the net cut off a few times, ending the stream which was a mess but with over 200 live viewers and again no social media announcement, I had faith I would be able to stream in the future. I did a couple more random short streams from Vegas very briefly and didn’t get much momentum, but I felt I was ready.

The plan was to go to Brazil for the BSOP series in Sao Paulo, Brazil after the conclusion of WPT Montreal at Playground Poker.  I stopped in Ann Arbor, MI for one full day, grabbed the new computer, then to Houston for one more live cash game, and finally off to Brazil I went the following day. Brian Rast and his wife Julianna met me in Houston and we were off to Brazil where my fiancé, Emilia who is also Brazilian would meet with us.

(Image: globalpoker.com)

We got to the hotel and I unpacked the setup, got it all ready to go, and sure enough, the Internet even at the Sheraton hotel there was not enough to stream properly. This was disappointing, but I was aware this could happen now and again in Brazil.  It didn’t’ end up mattering too much as I got to make some good runs in the live events I played. Cashing 2/3 events down there including a final table, finishing 9/434 in the BSOP “High Roller” 6,000R event.

I took a very unfortunate beat to exit there in a chip lead pot on the river in a bizarre hand, but that was that.  I heard of a tournament in Punta Del Este, Uruguay at the Conrad Hotel and Casino. Only a short flight away, I decided to go for a few days. I had never been to Uruguay and love exploring, so it seemed like the move!

I exited the tournament on day 2 and again there was Internet issues but I wouldn’t take no for an answer this time. Marcelo at the Conrad got me in touch with the tech team, they got me a unique Internet code, and we had enough upload speed!  It was on. I ended up streaming that Saturday for more then 8 hours, had some runs and had a surprisingly high amount of viewers for the first advertised stream via social media. I basically had lost my voice and had a cold, but I knew playing a full Sunday schedule was a must.

I woke up the next day, ordered room service and was off to the races. I registered a lot of tournaments and was running pretty awful. It was very frustrating until it got really exciting! I all of a sudden was one of the chip leaders as the bubble burst!  Next thing I looked and the viewers had gone from 300 to 500 to 800 to 1100 to 1400 to 1700 and all the way up to 1970 live viewers!

I ended up losing some tough pots down the stretch and finally had AT aipf for 8bb vs AJ.  The flop came T47 turn 4 but the river was not so kind and the J spiked. I finished 22nd/5686 players but more importantly had created a strong buzz about my twitch channel, twitch.tv/jeffgrosspoker #pokerflowshow!  The next day I flew back to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to be with my fiancé and then returned to streaming the next day.

I had a nice finish with a 5th place in a $22 buy in 1,000+ field and the following day I hit a 10x $100 spin n go which I won and gave away 25% to the viewers!  This was on Wednesday and turns out, I had made the front page of TWITCH! We had 1730 viewers that day and the stream dream was real.

I am having so much fun doing it and the viewers seem to be enjoying it as well, which to me, is the real dream in poker.  To be engaged, interact and help people improve as well as improving my own game!  I have written a poem for “my stream dream in 2016” and I will read this on air when I hit 2,000 viewers.  I will post it in my next CardsChat article as well!  Hope to see you all checking in on the stream.  If you heard about the show from CardsChat let me know in the chat box.  Very excited about poker at the moment and Twitch is definitely the future.

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