I came to Las Vegas this summer to attend the WSOP, same as I have annually since I was 20 years old. I had fallen in love with poker before I was old enough to battle at the Rio, and gladly spent that first pre-21 summer grinding online while rooting on my friends from the rail. Ever since, competing in the June-July WSOP with those same friends has been my favorite time of the year.
This summer, I played a whopping zero hands of poker at the Rio, a tiny bit fewer than I anticipated.
This year was always going to be a turning point for me. I celebrated my 30th birthday in April, and I took hitting 30 as a signal to pause and evaluate what I was doing and what I envisioned for myself and Run It Up. I had set up all my partnerships and commitments to expire in 2017, giving me the chance to pivot if I chose to. But as these conversations loomed, for the first time in my business life I felt anxious, not excited. I really didn't know what I wanted to do next.
I ended up spending June and July focusing on getting into healthy routines, the likes of which I've never had before in my adult life. Sorry Annie's, but I only ate mac-and-cheese for breakfast like six times this summer. I haven't checked, but that stock has to have plummeted. I made a concerted effort to read (even though I mostly read about baseball) and tried to spend 12 minutes outside every day, a feat I may have accomplished accidentally a few times in middle school. Small but fulfilling victories all around for a lifelong dirty basement resident.
Turns out, normal human things can be pretty fun. I enjoyed my summer and never found the competitive desire to go wage war for hundreds of thousands of dollars at the WSOP. And amidst this rather wonderfully tranquil summer, I was able to invest heavy time deep in the tank, pondering what could be next. It didn't take long. By the end of July, I had sketched out a vision for a new streaming project. Momentum gathered, I met with partners old and new, and big dreams started becoming Big Things.
Gaming has been a staple of my life since my Dad gave me a Commodore 64. Twenty years or so later, the first esport I fell in love with was Starcraft 2. I gladly stayed up until 5am every chance I had to watch professional matches live from South Korea. Captivated by those livestreams, I remember asking myself about what kept poker streams from reaching that same level of popularity and broadcast production. A few years later, I asked the same questions about poker on Twitch, but this time, I was in a position to try and produce answers.
Twitch has already been a powerful engine for growth in poker. Hundreds of thousands of fans have tuned into Run It Up each month since I began streaming, consuming over a billion minutes of poker content. But I don't think we're even close to peaking (_/\_). I see Twitch Poker as the single best way of introducing people around the world to the game we love. Illuminating the strategic beauty of poker draws new players and rekindles former players' interest in the game. Let's raise the bar for poker content so that one day our major events rival marquee esports championships. I want to build Twitch Poker and help our dedicated and talented poker streamers reach new heights of success.
Twitch's positive impact on our industry is only just beginning.
I promise to continue to work hard for the good of poker. I will seek partnerships and alliances across and outside of our industry in an effort to build our game and community. I've never been accused of thinking small, and there's a long road ahead filled with challenges. Let's get there together. I deeply appreciate everyone's love, support, and patience - these last few years on Twitch have been the best of my life, and I'm not going anywhere. I'm glad to have you with us as we embark on this new chapter of Run It Up, and I'm stoked to see many of you at Run It Up Reno October 16th-23rd!