If you’re interested in the gambling industry, you have probably heard of the job title “professional poker player.” But if someone told you they are a “poker content creator,” you’d probably look at them as if they just made something up.
This is a look I’m beginning to become familiar with.
Since I graduated from college in 2014, I’ve held what many people would consider traditional corporate jobs. In a typical week, I would go to an office (or during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, my home office), log on my computer every weekday at 8 a.m., and then log off around 5 p.m.
But on September 2, 2021, I made the decision to leave my current position to pursue becoming a poker content creator in the Michigan online poker sector full-time.
A ‘poker content creator’ isn’t as strange as it sounds
So, back to that whole “poker content creator” conundrum. The way I usually explain it? A poker content creator makes media based around poker that will be consumed by others. In my case, I run a live stream on my Twitch channel (with a 5-minute delay) where others can watch me play as well as talk through the chat.
I also have a YouTube channel where I upload vlogs of my play (usually 10-12 minutes) along with other videos based around poker. Now, thanks to PlayMichigan, I can add writing a blog to the list of things I do.
As one can imagine, taking on a big professional career shift doesn’t happen overnight. It all goes back to when I decided to start creating content in July 2020.
At that time, we were a few months into the pandemic. We were at the height of the lockdowns in Michigan, which meant no casinos were open to play poker.
I really enjoyed poker as a hobby and I wanted to play, especially since I couldn’t do many of the other things I like to do with my time. So, I picked up online poker.
COVID-19 pandemic creates live poker gap
I had played online poker in the past, but most of my recent play was live in casinos. Although I was happy to be playing poker again, I really missed the interaction of live poker.
One of the things I always enjoyed about playing poker in a casino is the company of the people at the table. At a poker table, you will come across people with all sorts of different backgrounds and lifestyles.
In no other place would you and the eight people you’re sitting with all get together and hang out, except for at a poker table. It makes for interesting and informative discussions — you all have one common interest (poker), but aside from that you can have very different life experiences.
I was looking to try and get some of this live poker feeling over into my online play. I had watched poker live streams on Twitch before, so I decided to try giving it a shot.
Building an audience can be tough early on. In my first five months of streaming, I averaged under four viewers at any one time. To some, this may have been discouraging, but I really loved the process. I enjoyed the streams, as well as brainstorming ideas on how I could grow my audience. One of these ideas was to post vlogs more regularly on YouTube, which would end up being one of the best decisions I ever made for my poker channels.
In January 2021, I was starting to grow my YouTube channel, and then viewers would trickle over to Twitch. My Twitch channel was now averaging around nine concurrent viewers.
Michigan online poker open doors for new content creators
A regulated online poker market had many Michiganders excited to play online poker again. This was great for me, as it also meant many Michiganders were looking to consume poker content, especially from their home state.
In February, my Twitch stream jumped to an average of 47 concurrent viewers. Since then, the highest concurrent viewership I held in a month was in June, when I averaged out at 117 concurrent viewers.
As this growth took place, I saw an opportunity not only in the games themselves but in my content. I knew in the long run the best way to give myself a shot of reaching my goals for the channels was to go “all-in” and pursue this new passion project full-time. Although I was nervous, I was very excited.
Now that I’m roughly three months into pursuing poker content creation full-time, I can say I’m very happy to be giving this a go. I love poker and creating content for others to enjoy, and if there is even a small chance that this could become something I could do in the long term, I wanted to give it my best shot.
Even with the first three months going well, I know there will be times during the journey where things will get tough. And I’ll question my decision to chase my professional dreams. I hope during those times, I remember the love I have for what I’m doing and the incredible support I’ve received from so many people in the community.