The Psychology Behind the Twitch Poker Boom

As one of the most popular and widely-recognized card games in the world, poker isn’t just for players. There’s a massive industry surrounding the game, which evolved during the tech boom of the 90s. What used to be a game played on the casino floor or at a friend’s house party became a spectator sport. 

As early as 1996, websites offered online poker play. From there, online poker programs advanced, while hole-card cameras brought live games to the average home. What was once a complex game involving logic and strategic bluffing became a type of reality series, in which poker players with big personalities took one another on via TV and web broadcasting. Today, one of the most common ways to watch live poker is to log in to Twitch. 

Not only did the interest in poker rekindle during the early 2000s thanks to international competitions and broadcasting or streaming live games, but the surge also saw thousands of newcomers learn the game for themselves. As each player learns the ropes according to their own preference, watching someone else play may be the best methodology for some. 

Having a poker guide nearby is handy for remembering hand values and rules, while watching a live game can activate critical thinking skills. Most seasoned players estimate a beginner’s learning period will last between two to six months, but does logging hours on a Twitch stream or watching a live poker tournament really help newcomers? 

Learning Strategy Organically 

In the case of Twitch, live streams from top players can absolutely help beginners learn the rules and a few key strategies. Unlike other live poker platforms, Twitch has a chat feature that allows people to communicate with one another. Don’t understand why a player just made that move? Someone on the forum likely does. 

Additionally, viewers can ask for feedback before they play a hand in their own poker game (whether live or simulated online). This helps players learn tricks as they go, without learning the hard way while betting with real money. 

Given most subscribers to a channel are passionate about poker themselves, there’s plenty of enthusiasm and encouragement to be found in the Twitch stream (though it may not be the case for all of the company’s streams). Check out Jonathan Little, aka Johnathanlittle, for access to one of the world’s best poker teachers (and streamers). 

Personality Matters 

If there’s a product or service, no matter how useful, there’s probably a mobile app in the Apple or Google Store designed for that purpose. The same can be said for Twitch, which continues to expand its streaming categories. This diversity has led to some truly unforgettable poker streams and personalities. 

Even better, successful streamers often work together to host truly unique tournaments. For example, there’s one group known as Runitup Reno, which regularly hosts big-money competitions. With a host of interesting personalities, there’s more for spectators to do than watch people compete for hundreds of dollars. 

In fact, poker on Twitch is largely about intrigue. Accounts like Johnathan Little’s will help newcomers learn the ropes, but accounts like Lex Veldhuis, aka RaSZi, who’s known for his entertaining style. 

Future Potential 

One of the most interesting aspects of Twitch is its accessibility. Not only is it an interactive and dynamic platform that brings viewers closer to the action and to the people behind the camera, but it’s also a potential future for players. 

As more beginners catch on to the Twitch poker craze and become confident with the game themselves, there’s the possibility that they could start their own channel. Again, there’s a Twitch stream for just about everything… but many streamers with large subscriber lists can build a professional following. 

Just look at Jason Somerville, aka JCarver. As one of the first consistent poker streamers on Twitch, he was able to bring together more than 35,000 viewers for a live stream all the way back in 2015. He’s since landed some of the most high-profile positions and deals in the world of professional poker. 

Setting up a Twitch account is easy, requiring only a mic and webcam. Professionals recommend that streamers set up consistent times to build and engage with their followers. In the case of poker or other games, collaborating with other like-minded streamers can bring others on board.