PokerStars Stream Team Episode 2: Ben Spragg on How to Get 100,000 Twitch Subscribers

6 min read

PokerStars ambassador Ben Spragg, aka Spraggy, has become a streaming sensation over the last few years. From someone who never thought he’d be able to play cards for a living, he’s now showing people around that it’s possible via his popular Twitch channel.

Ben ‘Spraggy’ Spragg is one of poker’s most popular streamers and it’s a role he takes seriously. (Image: YouTube/Spraggy)

CardsChat caught up with Spraggy at the recent PokerStars EPT in Prague. As well as reminiscing about his early days in poker, the Englishman gave us his views on what it takes to be a successful streamer. However, before we got into all of that, we asked Spraggy to give us a recap of 2023.  

“Winning UKIPT Brighton was the standout moment for me, just because the UKIPT tour was my first real taste of live poker. I went to UKIPT Galway in 2011. That was the first one me and my mates went to and it gave me a glimpse into the poker life,” Spraggy told us.

Getting out of the house and winning

PokerStars shelved UKIPT for a while but it returned, bigger and better than before, in 2022. For Spraggy, winning a UKIPT event was something of a coming home party.

“It was a nice full circle moment, if you will. That was definitely the highlight of my year, but, honestly, just having another year traveling the world playing cards and keeping away from the real world is great,” he continued.

Keeping the 9-to-5 at bay for another year is something Spragg never thought he could do. Like most people, playing poker professionally was more of a dream than an aspiration.

“I never thought I’d play poker for a living when I graduated. I just thought I could do it for a bit while I was making reasonable money. It meant I didn’t need to get a job straight away,” Spragg said.

Even though he was making money, Spragg didn’t think it would last forever. Come on, who actually makes a living from poker? Well, Spraggy does.

“I think when you go into something like playing cards for a living, you have to be realistic. I really didn’t think it could last forever. However, I started playing when I was 18 and I’m 34 this year, so it’s possible. In fact, things are probably better than they ever have been. I’m working with PokerStars, I’m making content, and I’m playing a lot more live poker now,” Spragg explained.

Poker streams need to be entertaining

Much of that success is down to Spraggy’s dedication to poker and his stream. The PokerStars ambassador has more than 163,000 subscribers on Twitch. Combine those subscribers with another 70,000 followers on YouTube and it’s safe to say Spraggy is one of poker’s top streams. What’s the secret to his success? 

“I think the most important thing for any stream and streamer is entertainment. You need to create content that people want to watch, regardless of whether they fully understand poker or not. For me, viewers have to care about the human story of whatever you’re doing in poker. People want to care about you,” Spragg told CardsChat.

Fellow PokerStars ambassador Fintan Hand said something similar. Streams need to be accessible and entertaining, but they also need to be personal. Viewers need to be invested in what you’re doing, as Spraggy told us.

“People want to see you win or you do well. Conversely, they want to see you fall on your face. They might even want to see you tilt or get upset and lose. Whatever it is, they need to be invested in you. If people don’t care, then your stream is dead,” Spragg continued.

Of course, there’s something to be said for winning. Technically proficient poker players also make good streamers, but only if they’re accessible to viewers. For Ben Spragg, his role is twofold: entertain poker fans and create new ones.

“Technically proficient players are compelling to a certain type of person. But you need to get people emotionally invested if you want to hit a mass audience. Even if someone isn’t sure what’s going on in a hand, they need to know you’re playing for $100,000 or you’ve got the chance to win a big tournament” Spragg said.

That’s the secret to creating a popular stream. Get people interested, regardless of whether they understand poker or not. Once you’ve done that, newbies will slowly become informed viewers. That’s how you build a community and, in turn, the poker industry.

Taking poker to the masses in 2024

There’s no doubt streaming has been a boon for poker. It’s made the game entertaining again after an era dominated by highly skilled but, at times, stoic pros. Spraggy has been a pivotal figure in opening up poker to the masses via his streams and that’s something he wants to keep doing in 2024. One of his main goals is to get out on the road. He hopes that will encourage his fans to join him at stops in the UK and beyond.

“I’d like to see UKIPT grow. I think the major tour stops are great but, in terms of my community, it’s hard for them to join me on the road if I say I’m playing a €5k event in Barcelona. However, if there’s a UKIPT event in Nottingham with £100 satellites, it’s easier for me to say come join me,” said Spragg.

PokerStars’ UKIPT events were the starting point for Spraggy and now he wants them to be a place where amateurs can get their first taste of live poker.

“I’m someone who’s gone on that journey, so I want people to have the same experience I had. Ideally, I’d love as many people as possible to satellite into UKIPT events so me, or one of the other PokerStars ambassadors, can meet them. Live events can be intimidating. However, if someone knows I’m going to be there, it’s easier for them to make the trip. After that, people will realize just how fun live events are. Basically, I just want to be the best ambassador I can be and get UKIPT back to where it should be,” Spraggy concluded.

Talking to Ben Spragg was refreshing. He never expected to be a central figure within the poker community but now he is, and he’s not taking it for granted. He knows the value of making poker a welcoming place for everyone, regardless of how skilled they are. His streams are a way into the game for thousands of people and, perhaps more importantly, they’re a valuable resource for the poker industry.

You can check out what Spraggy is up to by subscribing to his Twitch channel and catching his latest videos on YouTube.

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