Want to get better at poker? Some very-skilled poker pros are giving tons of information completely free on services like Twitch.tv.
The theory used to be that once you found a way to beat poker you kept everything you learned a secret. Giving away that information was giving away your edge.
Well, an entirely new generation of poker player is taking a vastly different approach by live streaming themselves playing online poker.
The following is a quick-start guide to getting started with poker livestreaming.
Why Watch Someone Playing Poker?
The way we learn to play poker has changed immensely over the last 10 years.
It used to be you would purchase a few books about the game, start a play money account and maybe fool around on a forum asking a few questions.
These days there are expensive training sites, coaches and more.
One of the simplest ways to learn, however, is just by watching another person play.
Years ago it would have been unheard of for a poker pro to give away all their information via a lifestream but these days more and more pros are looking for alternative ways to make money and built their brand and live streaming is certainly an opportunity for that.
How Does it Work?
It’s pretty simple really.
A poker player records himself or herself playing online poker with a slight delay (usually a few minutes to keep opponents from getting an unfair advantage) and streams it live.
Viewers can comment and interact in the chatbox. Sometimes the streamer will allow interaction, such as voting on what game or stakes they play next.
Not every poker player is necessarily a good streamer as it requires the ability to articulate your thought process while playing.
The best streamers are entertaining, educational and interactive. Generally as a streamer you want to avoid long stretches of silence.
What Do I Need to Start Watching Streams?
Not very much.
You pretty much just need an internet browser and a connection that’s decent enough for streaming video.
The #1 service for streams is Twitch.tv, which generally broadcasts people playing video games.
Poker is a bit unusual on Twitch as it’s generally the only game being played for money but if the game is legal in your jurisdiction then it’s legal to stream.
Is it Free?
Streaming on Twitch is 100% free but you can subscribe to a specific player for $4.99 to support the person behind the stream. You also get special perks like being able to chat when the account is in subscriber-only mode.
You can also purchase Twitch Turbo if you want to skip all ads but streamers generally take breaks to display ads anyways.
Who Are the Best Streamers?
The overall number of poker streamers is still relatively small but there are a few who are starting to build significant fan bases.
There's a thread on TwoPlusTwo that's regularly updated with the latest streamers although the thread sometimes gets derailed so you might have to dig a bit.
For now here’s a look at some of the most popular poker players on Twitch and YouTube.
Most poker streamers are fairly sporadic as to when they actually stream but if you’re checking regular times 9-5 from Monday-Friday there should always be at least one of them going. Also check their personal Twitter accounts for more information.
Edit: We're now updating this list on a regular basis with recently added streamers at the top.
Parker “TonkaaaaP” Talbot
Parker “TonkaaaaP” Talbot’s energy when he’s streaming is simply infectious.
The Toronto native was initially inspired by his friend Jaime “PokerStaples” Staples but has since developed his own style.
Known primarily for streaming MTTs, Parker has recorded some huge scores while streaming including winning the Thursday Thrill for $109,000.
He’ll also switch things up and play a little BlackJack sometimes if his followers are hankering for some gambling action.
Easily one of the most consistent and popular MTT streamers around.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/tonkaaaap
Streaming activities: NLHE tournaments, drunken blackjack.
Frequency of stream: High. Unless the Toronto Raptors are in the playoffs.
Unibet Poker does Twitch streaming right.
The upstart online poker site is always doing something interesting with the occasional from Sam Grafton, Charlotte van Brabander and even Viktor “Isildur” Blom (one time).
In addition to the regular online poker stuff Unibet usually offers a live stream of their Unibet Open events.
Unibet also hosts it’s eSports Battle Royale with legit eSports stars like Rotterdam, Reckful and SuperJJ stopping by to play a Sit & Go.
There’s always something new on the channel and some of the streamers will even switch it up and stream some Hearthstone.
It’s honestly a very fun stream, which can’t be said for most corporate streams.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/unibetpoker
Streaming activities: MTTs, cash games, live poker, Hearthstone, special events
Frequency of stream: High
Kevin Martin, also known as @KevinRobMartin on Twitter or KevinMartin987 on Twitch, is a small stakes streamer that’s rapidly build a huge following.
Martin doesn’t consider himself a poker pro (although that might be changing considering that PokerStars sponsorship) and he’s not on the same tier as Jason Somerville or Jaime Staples he’s very relatable to most poker fans.
Interestingly Martin is no stranger to being in front of the camera as he appeared on Big Brother Canada.
Martin actually shares a house with Jaime Staples (and his younger brother Matt “PokerStaplesPA” Staples) so there’s a fair amount of crossover between their streams, which makes it even better.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/kevinmartin987
Streaming activities: NLHE tournaments
Frequency of stream: High
Maria Ho is one of the busiest poker players on the planet but still finds time to produce one of the most entertaining Twitch streams around.
Ho regularly streams No-Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments but she really excels at interacting with her fans, which she affectionately refers to as the “Ho-mies.”
She often hangs with her famous poker pro friends like Daniel Negreanu.
Sometimes Ho even gives her followers a piece of her online MTTs, which makes it a pretty exciting sweat to say the least. She also hosts home games on PokerStars for her followers.
Ho plays a fairly intense live tournament schedule as well and she provides a lot of insight into what it’s like traveling around the world to play high-stakes poker.
She’s pretty much a must watch streamer in the poker world.
Stream location: https://www.twitch.tv/mariaho
Games streamed: No-Limit Hold’em, Cash, Tournaments,
Frequency of stream: Medium
Poker Central is the world’s first 24/7 poker-only TV network and has been slowly but surely revolutionizing the way we consume poker content.
Therefore it makes sense that Poker Central would have a pretty solid Twitch.tv channel centered around Maria Ho.
Yup, the same Ho who somehow finds time run her own very successful personal channel has her own show on Poker Central where she interviews poker pros like Phil Hellmuth, Olivier Busquet, Chance Kornuth, Faraz Jaka and Chris Moorman.
We’re assuming Poker Central will eventually feature more streamers on the channel but for the time being you can never have enough Ho.
Stream location: https://www.twitch.tv/pokercentral
Games streamed: Interviews, casual poker
Frequency of stream: Medium
Sam Abernathy is simply one of the hottest poker players in the game currently.
She’s also friends with media sensation Dan Bilzerian and has a pet jungle cat. Some people think she looks like Mila Kunis. It’s safe to say she’s not the average grinder.
Oh did we mention she’s also a prolific streamer?
Yup, Abernathy likes to stream all sorts of things including online poker, live home games and even life advice.
She’s great. Check it out.
Stream location: https://www.twitch.tv/samabernathyy
Games streamed: Online cash, NLHE, PLO, live poker, life advice
Frequency of stream: Low
Rupert Elder is one of the most consistent poker pros to come out of the UK.
He’s amassed $1.9 million in lifetime live tournament earnings and over $2m in online winnings.
Elder talks poker at a vary high level and his stream is highly educational for anyone looking to improve their game.
He plays on most major sites including 888poker and PokerStars and usually four-tables. In addition he’s also pretty entertaining while he’s playing.
Stream location: https://www.twitch.tv/ruperte
Games streamed: NLHE, PLO, Online MTTs
Frequency of stream: Medium
PokerStars Twitch.tv channel is an awesome one-stop shop for everything poker.
The channel hosts everything from the biggest online tournaments to various episodes from the European Poker Tour.
You never know exactly what you’re going to get on PokerStars and it might be Jaime Staples or Randy Lew commenting on WCOOP or high roller from the PCA.
Of course it’s all PokerStars related content so you aren’t going to see anything from the WSOP or WPT or other online poker sites.
PokerStars has the advantage of almost limitless hours of content and they can always bring out one of their famous pros like Jason Mercier to breakdown certain hands.
Tons of content to check out.
Stream location: https://www.twitch.tv/pokerstars
Games streamed: NLHE, PLO, live, online, tournaments, cash, TV events
Frequency of stream: High
Vanessa Selbst does streaming a little differently.
While she doesn’t stream all that often she’s actually provided commentary on several televised poker tournaments.
Selbst is without a doubt one of the premier poker minds in the world so it’s a little mind-boggling she’s giving that type of information away.
Don’t expect frequent streams from Selbst where she plays countless hours of online poker but rather deep, insightful strategy talk.
Where to find her: http://www.twitch.tv/vanessaselbst
What she streams: Just poker so far. Mostly just old live tournaments.
Frequency of stream: Low
Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz
“It’s a bad day for poker but a good day for charity when Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz starts streaming.”
That’s what Mike “Timex” McDonald Tweeted when he found out Holz was starting to stream on Twitch.
McDonald was referencing the fact that Holz is so good at online poker that he’s going to make the entire game tougher by revealing his secrets.
In other words: You should be following Holz right now.
The German MTT master actually took a unique approach to Twitch by donating all his proceeds from the service to charity. He’s not missing out on too much cash considering he’s earned +$5m playing online and live tournaments.
Unsurprisingly Holz is articulate, insightful and a fantastic player to follow if you’re looking to improve your game.
Where to find him: www.twitch.tv/crownupguy
What he streams: Poker
Streaming frequency: Low
Phil Hellmuth is one of the most famous poker players in the world and that alone pretty much makes him a must-watch on Twitch.
Hellmuth doesn’t stream often and you can tell that he’s not the most technologically adept person in the world but that doesn’t take away from his stream.
If you love watching the Poker Brat on ESPN there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy his Twitch stream, although he is a much calmer Poker Brat then you might be used to seeing (we’ll blame it on having no live audience).
Hellmuth does have any amazing network of contacts and he sometimes plays Open-Face Chinese Poker for $200 a point or more against his businessmen pals.
As you might expect he relentlessly promotes his various business ventures (like the Open Face app he plays) but at this point we’re hoping you’re used to that.
Hellmuth does have the ability draw viewers like almost no one else and he had thousands of viewers pretty much the second he started streaming.
He’s definitely worth a follow.
Where to find him: http://www.twitch.tv/philhellmuth
What he streams: OFC, poker
Frequency of stream: Very low
Gaëlle Garcia Diaz
Gaëlle Garcia Diaz is not your typical poker player.
The Belgian/Spanish model is famous for appearing in some artsy photo shoots as well as hosting various poker events around the world.
Her Instagram account has more followers than Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari combined.
Of course Garcia Diaz also plays the game (rather successfully) and that’s the primary focus of her Twitch.tv account.
Garcia Diaz’ Twitch stream is particularly useful for those interested in smaller-stakes events like the MicroMillions on PokerStars.
She likes to go on Twitch on Sundays but her streams have been fairly infrequent to start. Garcia Diaz also plays a little Magic: The Gathering so there’s a chance she’ll stream a little bit of that at some point.
Where to find her: http://www.twitch.tv/gaellegd
Frequency of stream: Low
Australian Marc Kennedy is hardly the most well-known poker pro but he’s a actually big part of Full Tilt’s new focus on recreational players.
Kennedy isn’t a sponsored pro on FTP in the traditional sense. Instead he’s more of an ambassador for the site and a link between the players and management.
Because of his unique position Kennedy is definitely someone to follow on Twitch if you want to keep up to date with the latest on Full Tilt Poker.
It’s not like he can’t play either as he crushes high-stakes Rush Poker so you might learn something as well.
Kennedy streams fairly regularly. You just need to check his Twitch page to see the next time.
Currently is follower count is low but we expect it to boom with FTP regulars once they find the stream.
Where to find him: http://www.twitch.tv/marckennedy
Even Chris Moneymaker is streaming on Twitch these days.
You might remember Moneymaker from, oh I don’t know, changing poker forever in 2003 by winning the Main Event through an $86 satellite on PokerStars.
Well Twitch just might be the next game-changer in poker and Moneymaker has hopped on board.
Moneymaker isn’t as sophisticated as streaming pros like Jason Somerville or Jamie Staples but he makes up for it with his easy-going nature and approachable chatbox.
His stream focuses mostly on his homegame on PokerStars, which can actually be pretty entertaining.
He streams fairly infrequently but you will often find him streaming on Mondays.
Where to find him: http://www.twitch.tv/teammoneymaker
Rockstar/astrophysicist/poker player Liv Boeree is just plain fun.
It’s something that anyone who’s ever come in contact with her knows but you also get a feel for it when you watch her stream on Twitch.tv (it also might have something to do with the pink table layout).
Boeree mostly plays tournaments while she shares thoughts about the poker industry and life in general with her viewers.
She’s also one of the few live streamers who lives in the U.K., which might be of extra interest to anyone located in the region.
Her streams are a little infrequent thus far but certainly worth watching.
Where to find her: http://www.twitch.tv/livboeree/
Remember Dutch Boyd?
Well all these years later he’s still incredibly passionate about poker and produces a top-notch stream on Twitch.
Boyd actually thinks the game at a very high level and you may learn something by watching him play that you wouldn’t necessarily get from other streamers.
Where to find him: http://www.twitch.tv/dutchboyd
Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu needs no introduction to poker players as he’s arguably the most popular poker player in the world (although Phil Ivey or Phil Hellmuth are right there with him).
Negreanu is one of the first big-name old-school players to take the Twitch.tv leap and his frenetic style of talking works pretty well on stream as it turns out.
Even better than the actual poker playing is the dialogue. Negreanu has no problem talking about former arch rival Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey’s various legal battles or anything really. He’s not afraid to talk about anything and that makes for a compelling stream. He even pee’d on the livestream once!
Outside of the chat Negreanu also provides some interesting strategy for old-school games that some of the young guns on Twitch.tv don’t play.
The only downside is Negreanu lives in Las Vegas so his chances to stream are low and he usually only has time when he’s visiting his hometown Toronto or on the road.
Still, Negreanu is must-watch poker entertainment whenever he’s livestreaming.
Where to find him: www.twitch.tv/dnegspoker
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
Another big-time PokerStars pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier has been slowly dipping his feet in the Twitch.tv water.
It wasn’t that long ago that ElkY would have been streaming Starcraft instead of poker, considering that’s how became famous but these days it’s all poker (with a little bit of Hearthstone on the side).
As anyone that’s ever interviewed him knows, ElkY can be a little hard to understand thanks to his incredibly fast-talking nature.
He also speaks in French, however, if people in the chatbox ask for it so he’s probably a little easier to follow for French-speaking fans.
ElkY still provides an entertaining stream and you can tell he thinks about the game at a very high level.
Where to find him: www.twitch.tv/elky
Just like ElkY, Griffin Benger is another former pro video game player who now makes his living playing cards.
Benger of course was famous as Counter-Strike pro ShaGuar well before he got into poker and you’d expect him to eventually start streaming a little CS as well.
In the meantime Benger is just showcasing poker and it’s a very compelling stream with big tournaments from numerous poker sites.
Unlike many of his Twitch.tv poker peers, Benger isn’t tied to one particular site and because he lives in Toronto he’s pretty much able to play on all of them. That means you regularly will find him playing the biggest tournaments on PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, 888poker, partypoker and pretty much everything in between.
Benger also strikes a nice balance between strategy and entertainment with great hand analyzes and humorous asides.
Where to find him: http://www.twitch.tv/shaGuar_poker
Jason “Jcarver” Somerville
Former Ultimate Poker pro Jason “Jcarver” Somerville is the Michael Jordan of poker streaming.
He’s far-and-away the most popular live streamer in poker with millions of views and he also offers the most polished experience.
His Run It Up Challenge on Twitch.tv has the simple but compelling premise of turning $50 into $10,000 playing on WSOP.com Poker. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
The $4.99 subscriber charge is definitely worth it in this case as subscribers get quite a bit of exclusive content.
Somerville is arguably the most consistent poker streamer you’ll find on Twitch.tv and does an excellent job of explaining fundamentals.
Where to find him: Twitch.tv/jcarverpoker
Number of subscribers: 45,752
Joe “ChicagoJoey” Ingram
Joe Ingram is all about Pot-Limit Omaha and challenging himself to marathon feats like playing the most hands in one day or reaching Supernova Elite in 80 days.
Ingram broadcasts entirely on YouTube and streaming himself playing is hardly the only thing he does. He also interviews well-known poker pros like Greg Merson, Ebony Kenney and Doug Polk on his video podcast regularly. He's also a prolific Tweeter.
He also does ridiculous challenges like trying to turn 3,000 play money chips into 20,000,000 in 24 hours (he came close!).
If you like PLO, an upbeat attitude and a plethora of guests than Ingram is your man although his livestreams are a little infrequent.
Where to find him: YouTube.com/user/joeingram1
Kai "StickyRice1" McMinn
Kai "StickyRice1" McMinn is a prolific video game/poker player that has one of the most popular poker streams on Twitch.
He tries to stream 8+ hours of video games/poker ever day and it can be quite a ride. Keep in mind that McMinn plays a lot of Counter-Strike so you won't always find him at the poker tables.
McMinn isn't really known for elite poker skills but he does one hell of an entertaining stream that includes an occasionally victory dance or two.
As TwoPlusTwo member Jamie Platinum puts it: "The good thing about Sticky is that he makes us all feel like believers in these games."
Where to find him: Twitch.tv/stickyrice1
Jaime “PokerStaples” Staples
Jaime Staples is an up-and-coming streamer from Alberta, Canada, who regularly streams MTTs on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker (yay international sites!).
Staples does a decent job of verbalizing his actions while playing and has developed a devoted group of followers from all over the world.
Staples is very consistent and actually streams every day of the week except for Friday starting at 8 a.m. PST. He usually plays tournaments so he’ll end his day after he busts out of the big ones on the weekend.
Where to find him: Twitch.tv/pokerstaples