Should Big Winning Poker Pros Still Ask for Donations on Twitch?

3 years ago
Should Big Winning Poker Pros Still Ask for Donations on Twitch?
10 Sep

Poker streamers can earn 5 figures a month on Twitch on top of their poker winnings yet they still ask for tips from their audience - are these successful, winning regs right to do so, or should they be content with their poker earnings?

First off, we need to establish that when a player starts streaming poker on Twitch they’re doing more than playing their regular game - they are simultaneously creating online content. They also need to work on their entertainer skills in order to keep their audience watching while playing good poker, and they can rightly expect to be compensated for that.

However, Twitch has multiple avenues to allow its creators to monetize their content apart from donations from the audience.

One of the biggest poker streamers on Twitch, Jamie Staples explained this at length in a YouTube video, where he talked about Twitch’s paid subscription system, merchandise, running ads on his channel, as well as - what he claims to be his biggest source of income on the platform - affiliate links.

Perhaps the argument should be broken down a bit;

  • Top streamers such as Jason Somerville ($2.245 million in online tournament earrings and multiple thousands of subscribers to RunitupTV) shouldn’t really need a tip for what he does. Same goes for Jaime Staples you could argue;
  • Those streamers, for example Spraggy, who number their paying fans in the mid-to-high hundreds might well be justified in accepting the donations to improve his streams and make it worthwhile;
  • Others, with very small followings, probably couldn’t or wouldn’t be so keen to try and make a career out of poker streaming if there was no way for their biggest fans to contribute more than a small monthly sub.

Poker players, unlike most gaming streamers, are generally earning money with the game they’re broadcasting – so this may be an important distinction when it comes to soliciting donations. However, please note that these donations give the fans special perks that can enhance their viewing experience.

Here, for example, a fan used a $4 donation to play a prank on Lex Veldhuis.

Although we haven’t seen or heard of it in poker streaming, yet at least, there can be serious downsides to the donation option, when the ‘prank’ goes wrong

A streaming troll from Australia ‘donated’ $50,000 across several TwitchTV accounts, only for an investigation to be launched after he tried to cancel his supposedly prank PayPal payments…

It transpired he was using his parent’s bank account to fund his fun - and PayPal sided with the streamers, a costly prank which backfired!

Keep in mind that you can enjoy their content for free, tipping and subscribing are completely optional. My personal view? Above a certain number of paid subscribers it would be more ‘ethical’ for streamers to donate their own ‘donated money’ to charity!

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Marton Magyar is a Hungarian online poker player and writer who covers the latest in poker news.Read more


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