If it were a job description, it would make for strange reading. “Wanted. Someone to spend 7 hours a day playing poker with nothing but a robotic crow for company, in front of an audience of sometimes in excess of 20,000 people.” Jason Somerville however fits that job description perfectly.
If you haven’t heard of Jason, be prepared to hear a lot more about him over the coming months. As one of the newest members of Pokerstars Team Pro he is streaming 70 consecutive days of poker on Twitch, and he took the time out from punishing the nit bitches and eating turkey burgers to speak to Backdoor Quads.
The first thing that you realise when you talk to Jason, is that he is exactly the same person when you speak to him one-to-one as he is on the stream. I asked him which came first, the idea to stream for 70 days straight or the Pokerstars deal.
“No-one came to me and said ‘We need you to stream for 70 days in a row’, I am the only person who has ever said that I wanted to do that, and no one is forcing me to do anything.
“If I say I’m going to do 70 days in a row of videos, I’m going to do 70 days in a row of videos.”
I spoke to Jason directly after of one of these sessions. If I had finished an eight hour grind I would want nothing more than to have a shower and go to bed. Jason on the other hand, after a quick turkey burger, is talking with the same enthusiasm and passion that has entertained over 3,000,000 individual viewers on his Twitch channel. However, he maintains that he is not the only poker player to watch on Twitch.
“Let’s imagine the Twitch community as a big campsite. As the player pool grows, we can all pitch our tents in various areas. I’m bringing in people who may or may not like other streams. Some people play multiple tables and get a more serious poker crowd than I do. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“People can stream immediately after me, before me, during my stream, or stream cash games instead of what I’m playing. I think that it’s a big Twitch jungle out there and there’s a lot of room for people to innovate, try different things and a lot of people will still want to watch.”
Jason has been busy off the online tables as well, after playing at the PCA and attending the American Poker Awards in Los Angeles.
“I definitely had a good time at the PCA. It was nice to leave the Nevada restrictions that I had become accustomed to for the last two years, and to finally play on a poker site like Pokerstars. It was like jumping from 2002 to 2015 technology.
Shortly before his return to Twitch and RunItUp, Jason was announced as one of the newest members of Pokerstars Team Pro. Regarding the sponsorship, Jason said “I got so many tweets about the Pokerstars deal, it was awesome that everyone was so excited for me and excited for the show. It’s great and it’s awesome and I think the best is yet to come.”
“There are so many cool things about Pokerstars. For example, they’ve got nearly 200,000 active players. There’s not even 200 active players in Nevada often on the WSOP. It’s nice to be part of this big site.”
Jason started RunItUp back in July 2013. What started as a humble bankroll challenge grew momentum, and eventually secured him a deal with Ultimate Poker. “No one was more visible playing Ultimate Poker than me,” he said, “I was showing off the software, talking about upcoming events, and just driving traffic to the site.”
“I look back at those first 100 episodes and I can’t believe how bad I was only two years ago!”
In August 2014, RunItUp was back, with 50 more thirty-minute episodes released on YouTube. “I was pretty proud of those. Ultimate Poker and I did them together and I was happy with how they worked out.”
“I was like ‘You get 30 minutes a day!’ and all the video guys I’ve been working with were saying ‘You should make shorter videos, no one watches longer videos’ and here I am, just finishing an 8 and a half hour show!”
Jason still maintains that his biggest worry is about his audience. “I just hope that people stick around. My worry is that by day 34, it’ll just be me and the crow and then I won’t know what I’m going to do.”
“I feel great about it, I’m good at keeping emotional control so I never really felt too high about this deal or let myself get really excited about the deal, to me it’s just the start of a big mountain to climb, that this is the time in my life where I’m going to have to work the hardest, and to make the most of this opportunity I have with Pokerstars.”
I asked Jason whether the 70 days he set out to do was a hard stop, but with the release of the SCOOP schedule that remains to be seen.
“It’s possible that it ends up being 80 days or whatever, so I’m not 100%. It’s going to be easy because once I hit May I’m going to be like ‘Oh, you want to play 20 days of SCOOP?’ Yes I’m totally up for that.
“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it. For now I hope that I’m enjoying it so much, it’s kinda like we’ll get to the World Series of Poker and I’ll be like ‘Pffft I’m going to stay here and stream for another two months!’
“I hope that’s what happens but I also don’t think that’s very likely, because I love the World Series and I love winning bracelets.”
As the conversation turned towards the World Series, I proposed a choice to Jason: would he rather win the Sunday Million live on stream, or win the Main Event.
“It’d be awesome to win the Sunday Million live on stream, but I’d still go with the Main Event. If I made the November 9, I don’t think there is anyone else who could do a better job of those three months of PR than I could. And then you’re telling me that after all that I would win the Main Event?”
Jason Somerville still has a long way to go on his 70-day challenge, but he’s already secured a big score, finishing 5th in the Super Tuesday two weeks ago for $30,745. With his audiences growing, and enthusiasm never looking like waning, Jason Somerville is here to stay.