The Signing of Jason Somerville

The signing of Jason Somerville represents exactly the kind of changes that I think will help broaden pokers scope, while spending less time focusing on recreating the TV boom of 2004. Times have changed, and so have the players you typically find at a table.

Jason is entrenched in a world that really relate to him. I read in his Interview that he predicts a shift away from poker being broadcast on TV, and instead moving more towards live streams.

He is right, and it’s already happening. It also makes sense. Sure, Grandma Betty is unlikely to watch kids grind on Twitch, but that audience has been alienated over the past ten years that they aren’t really the focus anymore.

I have never watched people play video games online- but millions do. I have never watched a Twitch stream (outside of a few funny StickyRice1 clips) either, but lots of diehard fans do and they love the content.

Times are changing, and content is being provided by the consumer without the red tape and cost of having to make a deal with a television network. It’s simply not worth the money in most cases to bother when you can do a live stream for next to nothing. If you want to watch poker, it’s as easy as going to where you will find TV broadcasts and archived livestreams.

I don’t have the accurate numbers, but I do know that EPT Live does extremely well globally and gets huge numbers. This is what visionary Alex Dreyfuss of Global Poker Index is banking on with his new ventures.

What the Jason Somerville signing proves, is that hard work promoting poker does pay off. I realize it’s not for everyone, but Jason has spent countless hours providing free content with the hopes one day that it could turn into something of a career. It has, and I’m proud of him.

I met Jason years ago at a World Series of Poker Europe event as he mentions in the previously linked article. We had good chats about movies, reality shows, and all kinds of stuff. At an early age I saw that he had a bright personality and was easy to talk to. Eventually we worked together making videos for PokerVT and became friends.

I remember how differently we saw poker back then. He came from the online world, where certain players were clearly either RIGHT or WRONG. It was fun seeing him totally transform his view of live poker to the point where he was playing a brand of “small ball poker” that even I thought was too small! Outside of talking poker, it was clear to me that he wanted to be an ambassador for the game and was willing to put in the work to get there.

Most people aren’t willing to do that for free. They expect to be paid for their time and what they share, and that is their prerogative. However, if you are looking for a substantial sponsorship deal in this business, it takes the kind of dedication and work that Jason has been willing to put in. Many of today’s young players break down decisions in terms of the ROI- return on investment. When asked to do a 2 minute interview by PokerNews on a break in a tourney, some think, “What value is there in me doing this? Will this lead to a sponsorship deal and how much will it be for? How does that compare to the value of my 2 minutes I would have to spend doing that?” Many decline doing the interview because they don’t see the cash value in it, and most of them would be absolutely correct!

If you are the type of person who thinks in terms of how this benefits you in the moment, it’s quite likely that you will be blind to the bigger picture possibilities, and/or have no interest in being in the spotlight promoting the game. I have no problem with people choosing to decline. Honestly.

I would prefer if people in every domain weren’t so cutthroat about getting the best of everything, and instead were easy going about minor inconveniences like doing a 2 minute interview, but I respect those that wish to stay away from the media.

For the poker world to thrive, though, we do need ambassadors willing to take the worst of it in the moment, for the greater good of the game. Thankfully, at a time when poker could use some fresh blood, Jason Somerville relishes the opportunity and is doing an excellent job for all of us who profit from the game. So if you are one of those people who play poker professionally, but aren’t interesting in promoting the game yourself, I hope you will join me in congratulating Jason and also thanking him for all he is doing.