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Jaime Staples: "At the End of the Day a Poker Player Has to Adapt or Die"
Over the last few months amiable poker pro Jaime Staples has become the #2 poker content provider on Twitch.tv behind RunItUp godfather Jason Somerville.
In poker's past - even just a few months ago - that might not be considered a big deal.
But in a time of transition for the poker industry, where recreational players and untapped markets are of growing importance, it definitely is.
Enough, even, for Staples to officially be declared a new member of Team PokerStars Online yesterday in Prague.
A current resident of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Prague is in fact Staples' first stop in Europe and he likes it so much he just might stay forever.
PokerListings caught up with him shortly after the announcement of his new post with the biggest online poker room in the world.
Jaime Staples: It’s really exciting for me to be here. I grew up watching all these players here on TV, and now I’m here myself.
This used to be a far, distant thing, and now it’s incredibly real.
PokerListings: Speaking of far distant things, you live in Calgary.
JS: Yes, I moved to Calgary with a friend of mine who’s also a streamer on Twitch. We’ve been living there for six months.
PL: There's a poker room called the Grey Eagle there?
JS: That’s true, and I played the WPT DeepStacks event there. It’s a great venue and it was a great tournament.
PL: You mentioned in your vlog that you want to move on.
JS: I do, and Prague is actually my target. I think it’s a great place. The living costs are a little lower, it’s well connected and it’s beautiful.
I’m not afraid of a culture shock; in fact, I really want that change. And having come here a couple of days ago my first thought was ‘this is going to be awesome.’
Prague looks a little like a TV set for me, almost unreal. The oldest building in Canada is probably 160 years old.
PL: So, when will you make your move?
JS: Next year when the WSOP has finished. That is to say when the November Nine have been found.
I’ll be packing all my stuff, traveling to Vegas for a couple of weeks and then I’m moving over. I’ve lived all my life in the same country.
24 years, which is pretty much a quarter of my life, so I want to try something new. The world is a big place …
PL: … and you’re apparently expecting to live 100 years. By the way, eating at the Hardrock Café isn't exactly experiencing Czech culture.
JS: I know (laughs). I did that the first evening, but since then I’ve also enjoyed the local cuisine.
PL: Twitch is the latest big thing. How did you get into it in the first place?
JS: I dropped out of school in October 2014 because I wanted to work full-time in the poker industry. Also, Twitch started pretty much at the same time so the timing was pretty good.
I watched Jason Somerville streaming in the very early days and thought, 'I want to do this, too.'
I love doing this.
PL: You don’t seem to have an issue talking into a camera.
JS: It’s a learned thing. When I first spoke in front of 30 people at school I was terrified. Now I speak to 3,000 but it’s become normal for me.
PL: What kind of people is your audience made of?
JS: It’s a very big mix. Poker players and non-poker players, young and old, male and female, Swedes and Peruvians and so on.
Of course, there are correlations. Most of the listeners will be male and between 18 and 35, but you get this really international feel, which makes it very interesting.
PL: How do you deal with offensive comments?
JS: There are always people who like to hate, mostly to make themselves feel better. It’s easy to rationalize that when you’re getting hate, you’re probably successful, and you’re doing something right.
In fact if there are several thousand people supporting me I’m happy to take what a few people have to say who are having a bad time in life and need to take it out on someone. No big deal.
PL: Do you think you’re bringing new players into the game?
JS: I really hope so. I try to structure my streams in a way that people can relate to. I’m trying to show what the journey is really like if you’re trying to become a poker pro.
I could go the hardcore poker strategy route, but that’s already out there so I’m much more focusing on what a poker life really is.
PL: What's your opinion on what needs to change to keep online poker attractive.
JL: I’m both a representative but also a player, so I see both sides of this. There are friends of mine who can’t be pros anymore next year so I’m not taking this lightly.
I don’t agree with everything but I have to make a decision on whether I want to take action against this or whether I can be someone who stays in the industry and has a positive impact, and that’s what I intend to do.
I believe that it’s a good thing to infuse money at the bottom of the game more than at the top, although I know some would disagree with me.
But the game changes and will change in the future, and at the end of the day a poker player has to adapt or die.