A few drinks, a Twitch idea, and a 24/7 plan that nearly worked
Like a lot of great ideas, this one came about while drinking.
"That's how all good things start right?"
It's not clear how many drinks Kevin Martin and his good pal Ryan had got through when the eureka moments struck, but given the enormity of the plan it would have to be a few.
"The idea of never pressing the stop streaming button really stuck with us. There have been marathons on Twitch poker before but two people going for a stretch like this I'm pretty sure has never been attempted before."
Kevin and Ryan met playing long sessions of poker in casinos, so were used to long sessions, and Kevin had always been keen to get Ryan in front of the camera. Not just because he thought he'd be good at it, but because their plan would exercise both of their competitive instincts.
"This isn't about the money at all! This is a test of our mental stamina and trying to top the other guy! It's a team effort, we really want the other person to do well. Just not too well where he's out of reach!"
So they got logged in, turned the cameras on and got started. Four days in we asked Kevin how things were going.
"This. Is. Hard. Really. Really hard. Both of us have been running terribly and struggling to play well through the sleep deprivation. Poker is an intense mental game and streaming it adds to the pressure! We're buckling down and still going! Hopefully the poker gods can smile on us the next 6 days!"
But not all ideas go to plan.
On the fourth day, with brains frazzled by fatigue and decision making gone to the dogs, Kevin and Ryan used the mental faculties they still had to discuss how to proceed. The decision they had to take, while disappointing, was obvious. It had to stop.
So, a few days later, well rested and back to their usual selves, Kevin and Ryan talked to us about the experience - the good bits, the bad bits, the terrible bits. Oh, and would they do it again?
Here's what they had to say.
Start by talking a little about the details of what the plan originally involved.
Kevin: The plan was simple! We start streaming on Twitch and don't shut it down for ten days. 240 straight hours of either Ryan or myself playing on PokerStars. We really wanted to push our mental limit when it came to streaming and playing poker. We both started with $1000 in our PokerStars account and for the duration of the challenge we were not allowed to add on. Everything coming into and out of our accounts had to be poker only!
What did you think would happen, and what actually did happen?
Ryan: I thought we would be able to accomplish the challenge quite easily and motivate each other to push through!
Kevin: For the first three days it was amazing! Energy flying everywhere. People were excited, and the vibes were awesome! BUT...it caught up to us quickly!
Ryan: After the fourth day sleep deprivation really set in. Fatigue became a major factor and playing winning poker being that tired became very challenging.
Kevin: That was it for me! At about 100 hours in it was obvious my poker decision making was poor. I was playing some awful poker and was getting really frustrated about it! We've had some amazing poker results on my channel and to play way below what I'm capable of was frustrating.
At what moment did you start to think this might not work?
Kevin: Around the 100-hour mark we had a discussion as to whether we wanted to push through and finish the challenge and probably lose a lot more money as a result.
Ryan: Around the middle of day five after I took over from Kevin we turned off the mic for 10 minutes and had a serious chat of what we wanted to do.
Did one of you crack first or did you both decide to stop?
Ryan: This was a challenge we started together. I'm good friends with Kevin and saw that he was really struggling. I had a little more in the tank but the last five days would have been rough and mentally exhausting.
Kevin: I'll admit I was the weak spot! I underestimated how mentally taxing playing poker is. Ryan really carried the team and was looking strong half way through. Twitch chat was calling him Ryan the Robot because of how good he looked mentally.
What were people watching saying during all of this? Was there encouragement to keep going or to stop?
Kevin: People really got into the challenge. The story telling was unique because we were always live on Twitch. There was nothing edited or scripted we were vulnerable for the 115 hours that we were live. The majority saw how tough it was and were happy that we were going to get some rest. A lot of people voiced their displeasure with us stopping. It's the internet when you get a large group of eyes on a project you're going to hear a lot of different opinions!
Ryan: People were very supportive and loved the idea of the 24/7 challenge. Many people were disappointed when we shut down the stream. I think it showed how many people were invested in us. Most people were supportive that we were putting our health and sanity first.
What did you get out of it regardless of cutting it short?
Kevin: The main thing I learned is that Ryan is an awesome streamer! We're working on getting his own Twitch channel going and he has a bright future on Twitch Poker! Other lessons I learned:
- Poker is a tough game made harder by not sleeping.
- You must adjust your game aggressively depending on the stakes you're playing.
- People rally behind ideas and challenges. The support we received was amazing. There are some awesome people on Twitch Poker that showed up again!
Ryan: This was a unique experience. Having never streamed before in my life to taking on 12 hours a day for 10 days was an interesting challenge. I didn't know what to expect but the Twitch community really got behind it and was incredibly supportive. Doing stuff with a friend is way more fun than an individual challenge! It was enjoyable to have someone there for support and I really enjoyed the challenge for the five days!
Would you ever try it again?
Kevin: (Laughs) This specific challenge I would say no. I like ideas and pushing concepts but part of what makes poker fun for me is playing well for my community. It's fun to see all the hard work and study I've put into my game come through on my Twitch channel. Playing under these tough conditions doesn't allow me to play at my best. I'm down for some crazy ideas in the future. I'm not going to mix sleep deprivation and poker again though! Not the best combination!
Ryan: I look forward to coming up with other ideas for future challenges. I'm motivated by pushing myself! We'll see what crazy stuff happens!
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley. What did you think about this post? Let us know on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.