Who Are the Real Celebrities of Poker? Streamers or High Rollers?

3 years ago
Who Are the Real Celebrities of Poker? Streamers or High Rollers?
29 Dec

Ever since Chris Moneymaker broke the mould, and proved that an ordinary guy with an ordinary job can sit atop the poker world, there has been a celebrity branch of the game. That was 16 years ago, though, and much has changed over the years. 

Old School

The original poker celebrities were characters from the old days, such as Doyle Brunson, and the new generation, such as Phil Ivey. After Moneymaker’s triumph in 2003, with more TV poker than we ever had time for, these personalities were the kings of the game. Fast forward to the present day and we now also have the streamer niche to consider. 

Guys such as Jaime Staples and Lex Veldhius have created their own niche by building up a following based on being just normal guys playing normal stakes. You might think this is nothing special in itself, but the heavy hitters in the industry were quick to act once they saw how much exposure TwitchTV was getting.

In a way, the execs running the likes of partypoker and PokerStars were responsible for shaping how the poker community would look to outsiders and new potential players. They don’t care whose image they use for marketing purposes, as long as it works. So, with the low amount of TV poker being filmed these days, compared to the golden age, the streamers are in effect filling that gap.

Different Things to Different People

Over the last few years, we have also seen another new generation of high rollers come to the fore. One group that springs to mind is the highly talented Fedor Holz and his compatriots. In terms of “up-to-date” knowledge in the GTO era, these players are no doubt ahead of the likes of Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius, but who are the real celebs?

So now we are choosing between two eras of high rollers and the streamers. In the end, there are a few points which point towards the correct answer. Firstly, longevity coupled with top tier results is a sure fire way to claim celebrity status. Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are the best examples of this. Secondly, arriving out of nowhere to sit among the world’s elite gives you a rightful claim. Fedor Holz is a classic example, and Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom another. And finally, there are those who just plain have the personality or history for it. Think Gus Hansen and Tom 'Durrrr' Dwan.

It’s clear, when you think about, that the high rollers are the real celebrities in poker. PokerStars can dress up the streamers however they wish, but that doesn’t make them anything close to being the legends mentioned above. That isn’t meant to be disparaging. Twitch streamers have their own followings, but are unlikely to ever garner the same interest as when Durrrr is next going to pop up in public.

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Mark from London in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.Read more


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