A couple of weeks ago, Hustler Casino announced the line-up for their biggest stream this year. In May there will be an expensive game with a minimum buy-in of $1 million and blinds of $500/$1,000. The brightest stars are Rob Yong, Eric Persson, Nick Airball, and Rampage. Such a lineup, as expected, seemed rather boring to many.
– "Assume I’m just old and out of touch, but are people actually excited about lineups like these?" Mike Gorodinsky asked readers. “IDK, what’s the dream a game like this is selling exactly? Old HSP shows were great to me but I could actually visualize myself in the game one day."
“Just invite Addamo,” urged Chris Brewer. "The audience will be delighted."
Well-known poker troll and showman Will Jaffe responded with an ironic video hinting that professionals usually sit at the tables like robots and then want to be invited to stream.
“A fresh idea, you will surely get a lot of likes,” Sam Greenwood praised him.
– "Well, of course, the players have to try hard to win in super tough games." – Dan Smith tried to explain. – "Everyone will act differently in a less competitive environment. Put me in a juicy game and I'll put on a Zamani-style show (not really, I'd have a panic attack)."
This is a reference to Martin Zamani, who most recently won the US Poker Open Player of the Series. He won the main event and cashed in three more events.
When asked by a PokerGO reporter to reveal the secret of his latest success, Martin responded with two words: "I'm stoned."
“Honestly, pretty tilted from this post,” Brewer himself answered Jaffe. – All I said is it would be fun to see Addamo in the game. I understand I’m not the target audience and the current formula has been a big success for Hustler.
That said, I think it’s so lame to just berate people who are trying hard at a competitive game. I know the glasses look silly, but I get nervous and it’s a lot of money. Would I behave different in a fun cash game? Fuck yeah. I’m just trying to play a game I love and do my job as well as I am capable of. I would love if I could be massively entertaining and lose no ev at these ft's, but I just am not capable of that.
The second hero from the post – Justin Bonomo – also could not resist and recorded a video response in the style of Jaffe himself.
It's time for a tough conversation, this time with Will himself. He recently accused me of not entertaining the audience well enough in super high rollers. It's clear that everyone wants to see Phil Hellmuth, who threatens to burn down the building, Alan Keating, who actually burns houses at the table, or Jungleman inspired by Lizzo, singing her songs. I would even pay to see it. But I myself am not suitable for such a role. I'm a regular grinder who fights against the strongest players in the world, and they don't give a lot of tells. I dream of at least a 2% edge, Will. I'm not like you and I don't play $2/$5 against plumber Pete or Nancy at Nancy's Bargain Tires. I don't have a 27bb/100 win rate, although I wouldn't mind that at all. And thank you for looking after me and giving me advice. But I do my best to make a living. I don't have your talent and sense of humor. Therefore, I will not even try to reduce everything to a joke. Here you have no equal, and we all just live in your world.
In the midst of the discussion, Thomas Keeling recalled Will Jaffe's last year's video, in which he took exactly the opposite position.
Scott Seiver is sure that nothing can be demanded from the players:
Lot of people discussing recently about if top pros should be more entertaining at the poker table. 2 thoughts: 1) PAY THE PLAYERS. A great TV cash game goes of course everyone invited will provide good product cuz they got a seat. A tough tournament goes and a FT is televised...why should anyone care about being "entertaining" they have been given nothing for it and will receive nothing. People want a good product it needs to be paid for... THAT SAID....
2) Bobby's Room is the most entertaining table in the world hands down, HS can be extremely fun and entertaining and crazy while also having the best players in the world playing, it just takes different circumstances. Start playing mix.
“Poker players have done absolutely nothing to convince viewers that they should pay them for entertainment content,” protested Daniel Cates.
– "Maybe then the film crew should work for free?" – Seiver did not accept the argument. You (and everyone else) don't get the point. I'm not saying "players should be paid" (although they should), I'm saying "we don't have to entertain anyone if we're not getting paid."
Daniel Negreanu recalled that once the players were well very paid:
“During the poker boom, we were paid $1,250 an hour to be on the High Stakes Poker show."
– I’ll never forget the meeting where PokerStars told Team Online that they were ramping up their partnership with Twitch and would like us all to stream 20 hours a week for no additional compensation. Blew my mind I was the only person to say “Fuck you absolutely not.”
For this, the other players even got a little angry with me, because I made it look like we were given extra work, and not given an exciting new opportunity. Poker players absolutely love working for free. Especially if it’s on a live stream.
“Such a request is clearly unreasonable,” agreed Dan Cates. “But I thought you left PokerStars when they shafted the players."
– And I didn’t leave then, this was a couple of years earlier. At that time, I just said: "I refuse, this is not in my contract." They replied, "No problem."
My two cents on the debate about poker players needing to entertain:
They do not.
It is a personal choice and I don’t begrudge any player who isn’t interested in making “good TV.”
I think my best advice is simply to be yourself.
In his DAT Poker podcast, Daniel went into more detail on this issue.
– The regulars of expensive tournaments have one goal – to win. If they start entertaining the audience, it will bring them absolutely no additional benefit. Therefore, no one has the right to demand this from them. Take at least PokerGO, which gives their players additional benefits in the form of leaderboards and other promotions, but even they don’t ask for anything like that on their streams. But streaming cash games is something completely different. The main goal is to attract as many viewers as possible. Many regulars say: "Put me in such a game, and I will put on a real show." But the problem is that these are just words, and no one has seen that they are really capable of it. Naturally, no one will even consider Dan Smith or Bonomo when listing players in such games.
I don't agree with Scott Seiver either. In order for a player to be paid simply for playing, he must be of some value to the organizers. I'll tell you about myself. When I first started, no one knew me. But I immediately realized how important it was for your name to become a brand. I had a Full Contact Poker site and anyone could send me a private message. I answered 50-100 emails every day, obviously, no one paid me for this. Gradually people began to recognize me, and CardPlayer offered that I write articles for the magazine. They paid $25 for one article. I agreed, of course, not because of the money. Some more time passed. The WPT hosted the Hollywood Home Game for the stars. I was invited, not as a participant, but as one of the commentators. For a week of exhausting work, they paid $250, but again it was not about the money. Naturally, I could say: "Pay $5,000 or I won't come." What would happen in such a case? Most likely, they would just ignore me and call someone else. But I already had a name in poker, and the WPT decided that it would be beneficial for them to invite me. You could say they "used" me. But this cooperation was also beneficial for me, so I used them.
If one of the players believes that he should be paid for playing in streams, this is his right, I don’t see anything wrong with that. But maybe the people who do it for free are just looking a couple of steps further.
Almost any professional can be easily replaced unless you are Phil Ivey. If Terrence Chen refuses to play, the organizers will simply call Joseph Cheong with the words "We don't care at all." Until you reach the status of irreplaceable, I would advise you to be more accommodating.
Many streamers don't get paid directly for their streams, but it opens up a lot of additional opportunities for them. For a while, you work for a name, and then it starts working for you.