The statistics are crystal clear: More and more people continue to move their eyeballs away from traditional cable TV service and the shows that air on them, and toward online video content. According to Google, 8 out of 10 people aged 18-49 watch YouTube each month.
It might be a chicken-and-egg situation, but what will certainly continue to happen in this modern-day content consumption scenario is that there will be more and more individual creators generating this content on the big platforms.
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Poker Player, Content Creator or Both?
The poker industry and its players will be no different. I started my YouTube vlog in October of 2016 and have no intention of stopping any time soon. Quite the contrary, I’m planning to get more heavily involved in live streaming particularly on Twitch which is already a massive platform and only getting bigger.
This social content will be in addition to my Instagram page where lately I’ve been doing weekly Q&A’s; my twitter feed, as well as the occasional blog. There are several other poker vloggers who are now regularly adding their contributions to the poker content world, and surely more to come. (Hopefully, more women will join us on the YouTube platform ASAP!)
We’re starting to see online poker operators take an interest in content creators, too. While winning big tournaments has traditionally led to sponsorship, and likely will continue to be a path for players looking for corporate support, it is only recently that players such as myself--who don’t have a big tournament victory under their belt--can build an audience through hard work and video creation which in turn leads to opportunities.
The question that will naturally occur is the following: What should a poker player-cum-content creator focus on--the poker study and the hours at the tables, or the hours in the video editing software? How can one do both?
Vlogging Your Way all the Way to the Bank!
The short answer is that you can’t. Whenever you’re doing one thing, it will take away time from working on and succeeding at another. This scenario is especially difficult in a field such as professional poker for multiple reasons.
First of all, this is a game that requires intense focus and continuous practice to stay sharp. Secondly, the field of competition is always getting tougher, so for each minute that you aren’t playing or studying, you’re slowly falling behind. And when you fill your time with hours of learning how to create transitions in your new vlog, it’s going to take you that much longer to construct your 3bet range from the small blind vs a late position raiser.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. Quite the contrary. The likely reason that you wanted to start your poker vlog (or blog, podcast, daily Instagram) is because you either thought that it looks fun to create something; you wanted to document this time in your life to always be able to look back on; or because you thought it would replace poker success with a different revenue stream.
And the really good news is that content creation can be all of those things, combined, and end up bringing you more professional success than poker would have in the first place.
Do What You Love the Most
If I can give some advice after approaching two solid years of poker vlogging, it would be this: If you’re debating between content creation or the straight poker grind, I think you should do the thing that intrigues and interests you the most. If you’re playing poker and doing well, and you absolutely love the game and the process and the poker table itself--even if you’re a little curious about what those poker vloggers are up to--I think it’s best to stick to the thing you love.
Don’t fall into the trap that so many people in the world do, expecting the grass to be even greener on the other side. Squeeze every bit of love out of the game and take it as far as you can.
If, on the other hand, you’ve reached a point where you’re regularly questioning whether these hours at the poker table are being spent wisely, are genuinely curious about picking up a camera and telling your story and adding some creativity to your daily life… then I suggest starting immediately.
Not next month, or next week.
Grab the cell phone that is in your pocket and create a 10-minute daily journal of how you feel, your surroundings, what you’re thinking, and what you’re thinking about doing next. (Say that Andrew Neeme told you to do this, and tag me in the post somehow, and I promise I’ll go and click the Thumbs Up button.) Talk about how awkward it is talking into this camera, and about how you aren’t sure what you want to do with this video. Then share it with someone, either a friend or family member or on YouTube.
What you will find is that this will resonate with someone, because almost everyone isn’t sure. Equally important is that you’ll find out whether it’s fun to do this… or maybe it isn’t. If not, you’ll have instantly freed up some space in your mind to figure out what else you might enjoy. But if it is, well, then you’re already on the path to finding further success in your life.
I think most success comes from doing the thing that genuinely sparks us. I think the guys who crush super high roller tournaments find it super fascinating to analyse ranges. Fedor Holz said that Dominik Nitsche can’t help himself and always brings up interesting spots when they’re out to dinner. That’s how you get to $15m in career earnings because you’re constantly engaged in the topic that you love.
Discovering What Works for You
As for me, I’m interested in figuring out how to make a split screen look good and which transition makes more sense - the fade to black or the cross dissolve. I want my poker story of the day to be clear and concise because I know there are people in my audience who find it fascinating and I love being able to provide them with that window. I’ll stay up until 7am editing a video until it’s just right, with no mistakes (usually), before I’m ready to upload it to YouTube. And I think that’s how I’ll get to 100k subs on the platform.
The important thing is to be self-aware. Ask yourself what you really enjoy, and what you’re naturally into. Then double down on these things. When you’re doing the thing that you enjoy, you don’t have to find as many ways to get motivated, as the motivation will come naturally on a daily basis. It’ll still take a lot of hard work but the questions like “what should I be doing” will become far less frequent.
There are many ways to enjoy the game of poker: Recreationally, semi-professionally, as a career, and everywhere in between those categories. You can create content around the game and your experience with it, then share it with an audience. Or, you can just put your head down, play some cards and grind out a healthy living for yourself or your family.
I think the best path to take is the one that you enjoy the most. And, lucky for all of us, that is where the most success will be found.