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888poker’s Jeff Gross: “Twitch Represents New Wave in Poker”
Jeff Gross will be flying the 888poker banner for the entirety of the 2016 World Series of Poker.
The deal was announced earlier today and Gross, who has over $2.4 million in lifetime tournament earnings, was happily brandishing the trademark blue 888poker patch in the Colossus II.
“It feels good,” he said
“It’s hard to get sponsorship in poker these days. 888poker is obviously a reputable brand and one of the big names in poker. They’re one of the official sponsors of the WSOP. I'm really excited about it.”
Professional Best Friend Gets His Due
Gross has racked up a significant amount of tournament cashes over the years but is perhaps even more well-known for the crowd he hangs out with.
The amiable Gross is close with high rollers Bill Perkins, Antonio Esfandiari, Brain Rast, Dan Colman and even Olympian Michael Phelps.
Gross' easy-going nature even led Esfandiari to nickname him, “Professional Best Friend” or “PBF” and the name has stuck.
More recently Gross has been making a name for himself in the burgeoning Twitch landscape.
Gross believes it’s a large part of the reason that 888poker took an interest in him.
“I think it’s a new wave in the poker industry,” he said.
“I think Twitch is making poker fun again. It’s a very unique experience the way you can interact with people and learn.”
Perfect Mix of Poker Skills and Personality
Gross has only been on Twitch since December but his stream has already garnered a large following.
“I think I’m a pretty good blend of having a bit of personality and poker skills,” he said.
“I mean I might not be one of those 6-Bet wizards but I think I have a nice blend of social skills and being a solid poker player.”
The Twitch/poker beast is only going to get bigger, according to Gross.
“I think it’s the future of poker,” he said.
“It’s an amazing tool where people get to see you, your cards, and interact with you and ask questions. It brought back the love of the game for me. I wasn’t out of it but when it came to online poker I was kinda feeling like that ship had sailed. Then Twitch happened and I had fun with it.”
Taking Cue from Jason Somerville
Gross pointed out Kevin Martin’s recent deal with PokerStars to suggest that you don’t necessarily have to be an ultra high roller to build a positive Twitch following.
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“I remember last summer I watched Jason Somerville who is obviously the man when it comes to Twitch.”
“Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot, Kevin Martin, Maria Ho and Jaime Staples are really established. Doug Polk started recently and instantly doing really well too.
“Now you’re starting to see a lot of other poker players get into it. I have people asking me all the time about it. I had Jungleman asking me to help him get going with it.”
Big Schedule Planned for 2016 World Series of Poker
Gross also believes that his game has improved considerably since he starting streaming.
“For me it’s about getting better,” he said. “I’ve been playing a lot of MTTs. I’ve been patching up some holes and getting some honest feedback about my game.”
Twitch will have to take a back seat for awhile now, however, as Gross is going full bore into the marathon WSOP.
“I’ll play everything from the Main Event down to the Colossus,” said Gross. “All the No-Limit Hold’em events and some of the PLO tournaments too.”
Time to Finally Drop PBF Nickname?
So with an 888poker deal, a rapidly expanding Twitch audience and an impressive performance in the Global Poker League is Gross finally going to drop his sideline status as “Professional Best Friend” and step into the spotlight?
He’s not too concerned about it.
“I don’t mind,” he said.
“I think it’s a compliment and there are definitely worst nicknames to have. I think my game has improved a lot over the last few years. I consider myself a good player and obviously hanging around guys like Brian Rast, Antonio [Esfandiari] and Dan Colman has helped. Those guys have some of the best results around.”
There is one thing Gross would like to rectify this summer, however.
“I would like to get a bracelet,” he said.
“It’s kinda been a running joke because I’ve gotten a lot of seconds and thirds and never won a major event. It’s one of those things. It’s like the Super Bowl, you get there and you never know when you’re going to get back.”