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.
Bellagio Poker on the Strip
For many years Bellagio was THE place to play poker.
You could make the argument it still is but its gotten some stiff competition from Aria and overseas card rooms like Dusk Till Dawn and King’s Casino.
Well Bellagio is joining the online revolution with its very own Twitch channel.
Bellagio Poker on the Strip (or POTS as its been branded) shows live poker from the Bellagio Poker Room.
So far Bellagio has broadcast $5/$10 and $10/$20 but they have plans to go even higher if there’s enough interest.
Dan O’Brien, Danielle “Dmoongirl” Andersen and Mike Del Vecchio have all appeared on the show so far with Dallas Scott doing some commentary.
BellagioPOTS is a fascinating concept that shows off an alternate use for Twitch in real life and promote both Bellagio and poker in general.
So far, so good.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/bellagiopots
Streaming activities: Live poker at Belagio. Mostly $5/$10 and $10/$20 NLHE
Live at the Bike
The Bicycle Casino was the first real-life casino to broadcast poker games over the Internet so it makes sense they would jump on board the Twitch train.
Live at the Bike generally runs twice a week with a $5/$10 NLHE game on display.
It’s a fantastic place to see local talent along with some out-of-town grinders on occasion.
Bart Hanson, JJ De La Garza, David Tuchman and Alec Torelli are among the personalities who have provided commentary for Live at the Bike.
The only downside to Live at the Bike is that its older videos are only available to subscribers.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/liveatthebike
Streaming activities: Live poker at the Bike. Generally $5/$10 NLHE.
Felix “xflixx” Schneiders
If you’re looking to get better at poker than Felix “xflixx” Schneiders’ Twitch channels should be one of the first places you go.
Schneiders, who joined Team PokerStars Online in 2013, is a former Magic: The Gathering player from Germany.
He’s one of the best teachers on Twitch and watching his stream is a great way to improve your poker game.
Schneiders offers a calming presence compared to some of the more frenetic streamers but that doesn’t mean his stream is boring. Schneiders streams a ton of the big events on PokerStars including $1m Spin & Go’s if they happen while he’s online (which is a lot).
Schneiders offers a ton of value to subscribers with freerolls, coaching sessions, free educational materials and more.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/xflixx_teampokerstars
Streaming activities: MTTs, freerolls, coaching
Thirst Lounge with Bill Perkins
Billionaire Bill Perkins Twitch channel, which is titled the Thirst Lounge, is truly one-of-a-kind.
“Perky” has been one of the most entertaining amateur poker players over the last few years thanks to his close friendships with Dan Bilzerian, Jeff Gross and Brian Rast in addition to some outrageous prop bets.
His Twitch channel is also incredibly entertaining with streams from his yacht, insane freerolls and a collection of high-profile guest stars.
Subscribing to Perkins channel might just be the best decision you ever make on Twitch.tv as he’s been known to give away insane poker packages to the Bahamas.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/thirstlounge
Streaming activities: Poker, cash games, freerolls, lifestyle, shenanigans
Flow Poker with Jeff Gross
Everybody from Bill Perkins to Michael Phelps wants to hang out with Jeff Gross. There’s a reason he’s been nicknamed “Professional Best Friend”.
Well thanks to the wonders of Twitch.tv you can finally hang out with Gross as well.
Gross takes his game seriously and does a great job of educating both experienced and new players alike.
Most of the time you’ll find Gross playing tournaments with various stakes but he also does a large number of giveaways to his followers.
Gross is friends with the Dan Bilzerian crew so you never know who might show up on the stream (or if he’ll be playing from a yacht).
His Twitch stream is also known as the Poker Flow Show in case you were wondering.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/jeffgrosspoker
Streaming activities: Poker, MTTs, lifestyle, freerolls
Mike “Timex” McDonald
Mike “Timex” McDonald has been one of poker’s top minds ever since he burst on to the scene by winning EPT Berlin at the age of 18.
McDonald has since acquired $13m in live tournament earnings, started a poker-betting site called PokerShares and perfect a “death stare” worthy of Phil Ivey.
The Waterloo native has always been happy to share his experiences with fans, whether it’s on poker forums, podcasts or, more recently, his personal Twitch channel.
You’ll want to check out his stream if you’re looking for an analytical approach to the game and some great stories from McDonald about his time in poker. He’s also very engaging with fans.
He really thinks about the game in a dynamic way and his results speak for themselves… it’s freaking Timex!
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/mikemcdonaldpoker
Streaming activities: MTTs, Hold’em, poker betting advice
Good ole RaSZi.
One of the most dynamic players to ever appear on TV, Lex Veldhuis translates very well to the Twitch.tv format with a stream that matches his entertaining personality.
The Dutch pro frequently streams MTTs in addition to a bit of gaming, especially survival game H1Z1.
Veldhuis has always had a bit of an edge to his commentary and his dry wit makes for a refreshing change on Twitch.
Good stuff all around.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/lexveldhuis
Streaming activities: MTTs, gaming, H1Z1
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.
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
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
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.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/pokercentral
Streaming activities: Interviews, casual poker
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.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/ruperte
Streaming activities: NLHE, PLO, Online MTTs
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.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/pokerstars
Streaming activities: NLHE, PLO, live, online, tournaments, cash, TV events
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 stream: www.twitch.tv/crownupguy
Streaming activities: NLHE MTTs
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/dutchboyd
Streaming activities: MTTs, educational
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 stream: www.twitch.tv/dnegspoker
Streaming activities: NLHE, Mix Games, Cash MTTs, coaching, lifestyle
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 stream: www.twitch.tv/elky
Streaming activities: NLHE MTTs, Hearthstone
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 stream: Twitch.tv/jcarverpoker
Streaming activities: Non-stop MTTs, NLHE, Mix Games
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 stream: YouTube.com/user/joeingram1
Streaming activities: Interviews, lifestyle, PLO
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 stream: Twitch.tv/pokerstaples
Streaming activities: MTTs
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.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/mariaho
Streaming activities: No-Limit Hold’em, Cash, Tournaments,
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.
Where to stream: https://www.twitch.tv/samabernathyy
Streaming activities: Online cash, NLHE, PLO, live poker, life advice
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/vanessaselbst
Streaming activities: Just poker so far. Mostly just old live tournaments.
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/philhellmuth
Streaming activities: OFC, poker
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/gaellegd
Streaming activities: Small-stakes MTTs
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 home game on PokerStars, which can actually be pretty entertaining.
He streams fairly infrequently but you will often find him streaming on Mondays.
Where to stream: http://www.twitch.tv/teammoneymaker
Streaming activities: PokerStars home games.
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/livboeree/
Streaming activities: MTTs, Q&As, Igor Kurganov cameos
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 stream: http://www.twitch.tv/shaGuar_poker
Streaming activities: Poker, Counter-Strike
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 stream: Twitch.tv/stickyrice1
Streaming activities: Cash games, video games