Somerville Puts on Pants, Cleans Language to Guest Host WSOP Stream

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Jason Somerville

The WSOP live stream booth was less crowded than usual on Wednesday.

Usually the tiny black box in the middle of the Amazon Room hosts David Tuchman and a promenade of guests. Today it was just Jason Somerville in one seat and his hoodie on the other.

Somerville, who runs the most popular poker Twitch stream, is also doing things a bit differently.

First of all, he’s wearing pants.  Basketball shorts are his usual Twitch uniform.

Second of all, there’s no swearing on the WSOP stream. A picture of a pirate highlights Sommerville’s Twitch info page and is a good indicator of the language viewers will get.

At Home in the Booth

While this is only the second time Somerville has hosted a WSOP final table stream, he’s at home in the booth.

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Shoes, off. Legs up on the chair and crossed.

A number of sheets decorate the table and Somerville occasionally writes or taps on them with a pen he’s usually just fiddling with.

When they're not busy with the pen, his hands are emphasizing his words or in charge of his phone.

Somerville flips between texts and Twitter to see questions and comments by viewers.

The headphones looked a bit uncomfortable though.  Somerville was constantly readjusting them.

But commentating on poker for four hours by himself? That’s home for Somerville.

“I doubt there's a person that's talked as much poker as I have in the last couple of years,” Somerville said.

“I'm just about at three quarters of a billion minutes watched lifetime on Twitch.”

Most of those minutes are just Somerville talking. While he occasionally has guests, he prefers to go at it alone.

A One Man Show

“I kind of enjoy the solo broadcasting thing because I kind of keep what I'm going to say planned,” Somerville said.

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Going solo has worked for Somerville so far.

He’s racked up more than 180,000 followers, far more than any other poker channel on Twitch.

One reason Somerville thinks his channel does so well is that he watches poker, probably more than anyone has seen too.

Watching endless hours of poker content helps Somerville see what works and what doesn’t.

“I think for too long as a viewer I would watch people who really didn't understand what it's like to be there,” Somerville said.  

“I've won a WSOP bracelet and I actually know and have played with these players.

“I think that brings an element of experience that helps show people at home what’s in the mind and hearts of the players at the table.”

Fun Is Priority Number One

Somerville also tries to keep the mood light. 

“The priority is fun first,” Somerville said. “If we're not having a good time, then what are we doing here?”

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Portraying poker as intimidating or dangerous can turn off viewers.

“When you bring in two random poker pros who are like, ‘This guy is VPIPing way too much,’ it's like come on dude, relax a little bit,” Somerville said.

“I think that people forget that this guy won a satellite and is playing for a million dollars in his third live tournament ever.

“That’s awesome. When else in life could a guy do something like that? I want to make sure we celebrate those glories and the victories.”

That’s what motivated Somerville to hole up in the booth today.

“It's great to kind of play tour guide for all the fans at home to what's going on here at the Rio,” Somerville said.

“I just really enjoy talking about poker and expressing my love for the game by showing other people why it's so cool.”

“And it's awesome to be a part of poker history here at the WSOP.”

Twitching Into the Future

While Somerville occasionally gets to help record poker history during the summer, he spends the rest of the year paving the way for its future.

While traditional televised poker viewership has decreased for years, streaming content is growing.

“I think it's great to see the modernization of this stuff and be on the forefront of innovation in poker content,” Somerville said.

“It's not just on ESPN or Poker After Dark anymore. Twitch is such a great democratic platform where you don’t just watch, but you can have a conversation.

“I think you can get a much more true sense of poker and poker players.

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Somerville doesn't tire easy.

“We have hundreds of thousands of lines of chat each year. People aren’t just watching, they're asking why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?”

Community is Key

A good conversation turns a viewer into a follower. Then followers turn into a community.

“The biggest and best streams are communities that are built around a streamer,” Somerville said.

“The other key thing to being a good streamer is being consistent.

“There's no way around it. You gotta stream seven days a week or six days a week. People have to know they can find you and tune in regularly.

"I also think you have to be unique in some way, interesting, entertaining. You just can't be sitting there saying, ‘I'm going to raise here, or I'm going to fold.’

"That's not enough.”

Somerville, who commentated the four-hour $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo final table, says endurance sets him apart from other streamers.

“I talk a lot and don't get tired,” Somerville said. "This was only like a four-hour stream dude. Give me a 12 hour stream and then we can talk about being tired.”

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