Jason and Jason melt the Internet
So not too long ago, I'm driving along in my car and the phone rings. I punch the green phone button to activate the Bluetooth connection. On the other end was an excited voice easily identified by how he melded my name into one word.
"Leejones! I've got an awesome idea."
Lot of my conversations with Jason Somerville start out like that, so I simply exchanged greetings with him and waited for the idea to be unrolled. A handful of sentences in, I said, "Jason, I'm going to pull over and talk to you. Because I don't really trust myself to drive at the moment."
See, here was Jason's idea: it turned out that Jason Mercier was planning to be in Toronto for the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), which is where Jason Somerville is for the whole of WCOOP. The two Jasons are good friends and have been business partners in various things for years now. The two of them got talking, and Mercier mentioned that he was planning to play the $102,000 buy-in event during WCOOP.
"How'd you like to stream it live on Twitch, with me in the booth with you?" said Somerville. One thing led to another, and here we are.
Ladies and gentlemen, on Sunday, September 11th, 2016, beginning at 3:00pm Eastern Time (8:00pm UK), Jason Mercier is going to play the $102k buy-in event of WCOOP live on Twitch with Jason Somerville sitting next to him providing commentary and interacting with the audience. (Note: The event itself begins at 12:30pm, but Mercier will be starting his play and streaming later at 3:00pm.)
It will all be on the PokerStars Twitch channel at:
You can also watch it live on Facebook at:
Or on YouTube at:
Or on PokerStars very own TV channel (the one where you watch Hartigan and Stapes), at PokerStars.tv.
Yes, Jason Mercier will be showing his hole cards, on a 15-minute delay. So audiences around the world will be able to watch the 2016 WSOP Player of the Year compete in the highest buy-in online poker tournament of all time. And they'll get commentary from and interaction with Jason Somerville, the inventor of poker live streaming and reigning king of the hill in that milieu.
To a poker junkie (your author proudly raises his hand) this is an absolutely must-watch event. You will get a first-person-shooter view as one of the best players in the game mixes it up against the elite of the elite, for silly amounts of money. And you'll get your commentary from the guy who has brought fun back to poker in a way that really nobody else has.
I'm going to watch every minute. And I won't be alone. This is going to be a big moment for poker streaming. As an aside to the IT folks at Twitch and PokerStars: please have your best people standing by this coming Sunday; we expect to melt the Ethernet cables to your servers.
So I'll wait a second while you put "September 11th, 3:00pm ET, twitch.tv/pokerstars" into your smartphone, and then I'll answer a few questions:
Q: Jason Mercier is really going to show his hole cards?
A: I know - hard to believe. Yes, he's showing his hole cards, but on a 15-minute delay. That will prevent "sniping" - the extremely prohibited act of attempting to see the hole cards of a live-streaming opponent by waiting out his delay period before you act.
Q: Do I have to pay something to watch this?
A: No. And there's not even a "subscriber mode", so everybody will be able to talk in the chat box. However, if you put a spoiler in the chat (announce results from the "outside world" before they happen on-stream), the moderators will, at the very least, snap-ban you from chat and perhaps from the stream itself.
Q: Will Somerville be giving strategy advice to Mercier?
A: No. They may discuss hands afterwards, but during the play of a hand, Mercier will be making the playing decisions solely on his own.
Q: What happens if Mercier busts?
A: We'll all be very sad. They may go play something else (there's a $700 NLH WCOOP event that starts an hour later) or they may quit playing. No promises. And along those lines, Mercier is there to win the tournament - not maximize his on-air time. If his poker instincts - his very very good poker instincts - tell him to put the chips in the middle, he will. There are no guarantees in poker, and there are certainly no guarantees about the length of time Jason Mercier will be in the tournament.
Q: What happens if Mercier makes Day 2?
A: Then cancel your Monday, September 12th plans and strap in for the second day of the most amazing online poker spectacle ever.
Q: Will there be video of it afterwards?
A: Yes, definitely. We don't know yet exactly where it will be hosted, but there will be a video. Whether it includes chat or not is another unknown.
Q: Will Marshmallow be on-screen?
A: Tune in and find out.
So that's it folks. This is likely to be a watershed moment for online poker: an elite player showing his hole cards throughout a $102k buy-in tournament, with a world-class entertainer and host as commentator.
You really want to be nowhere but twitch.tv/pokerstars at 3:00pm Eastern Time (that's 8:00pm UK time) on Sunday, September 11th. See you in the chat.
Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones