Monday, 22nd July 2024 09:32
Home / Interviews / The Reinventor: Lex Veldhuis on trading Twitch comfort for a YouTube challenge

With a successful poker career pushing two decades, Lex Veldhuis knows a thing or two about reinvention as a way to keep things exciting.

The PokerStars Team Pro kicked off his career playing online no limit hold’em cash games, then discovered live tournaments. From there he found live cash games, before switching to pot limit omaha and grinding online PLO cash games for a few years. When that felt stale he switched again to online tournaments, streaming his play on Twitch and eventually becoming the poker directory’s top dog.

But now, after years as the king of Twitch poker, Lex is stepping away. 

“It’s a way of reinventing myself, just like I do in poker,” he tells us. 

But what are his plans for the future, what led to the decision, and where will you be able to watch his content from here on?

A new beginning

Lex Veldhuis has given up his Twitch Partner status, meaning he will no longer receive income from subscribers. This might seem surprising from the man who consistently pulls in the largest poker audience on the platform, and who has built a loyal fanbase so committed that they travel from around the world to meet up at his live community events, Lex Live.

But he’s not leaving the world of streaming and content creation behind. Quite the opposite.

“I feel like within poker there’s so much to offer and so much cool stuff I could be doing,” Lex says. “You can reinvent yourself in so many ways in poker and I think in content creation it’s the same thing.”

For Lex, this latest reinvention will involve conquering a new challenge: YouTube. 

“There’s a lot of really interesting things happening in poker on YouTube,” he says. “There are big cash game shows, and the PokerStars broadcasts from the European Poker Tour (EPT) are doing really well, so I started thinking about YouTube in a new way. So many big Twitch streamers have been going to YouTube and that’s had a positive effect on the platform.”

He won’t be starting from scratch. Lex already had 100,000 YouTube subscribers when he announced his plans to focus on creating content for the world’s largest video sharing platform, and the second-most visited website in the world. (He’s now up to 117,000 subs at the time of writing).

But those numbers are modest compared with some of poker YouTube’s giants, like vlogger Brad Owen (652,000 subscribers) and retired pro Doug Polk (353,000).

“Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme, Doug Polk, Rampage Poker…all those guys are doing really cool stuff and I feel like I have to start the battle,” says Lex. “I have a long way to go to get to where those guys are. But it’s cool to be at the bottom of the mountain going through the learning process. It allows me to be creative in different ways.”

By stepping away from Twitch Partnership, Lex is now free to stream his play on PokerStars on YouTube. He was always able to create content there, but streaming was off-limits. Until now.

“I have a strong community and fanbase that is super loyal, and I’m lucky that they’ve followed me to YouTube,” he says. “I feel that if you want to make good content you have to be passionate about what you do and you need to wake up and be excited about what you’re doing that day. People bond to that enthusiasm.”

You’ll still find Lex Veldhuis streams on Twitch, but now he’ll be everywhere, getting as many eyeballs on poker as possible.

What led to the decision?

There are multiple factors that led to Lex deciding to focus his attention on YouTube rather than Twitch.

The first is that he’s simply always looking to grow and try new things.

“I was trying to turn a corner in terms of the content I was making on Twitch and I was trying to reinvent some stuff,” he says. “But I felt like there was a limited amount I could do in the Poker category because on Twitch you pretty much do a “campaign”–something fun like an online series that runs for a few weeks–but that’s not real innovation, in a sense. It’s just doing another campaign in a different way.”

He describes feeling a sense of complacency, that he had achieved everything he could have on Twitch in terms of setting records and beating his competition. “I’m super grateful for that, but it’s not what keeps me going every day,” he says.

So what does? 

“I want to challenge myself and I want to feel uncomfortable,” he says. “I want to face obstacles. I love to think, what can I do today to make it better? What can I do today to improve the stream etc? My stream was by no means perfect but the steps I could take to improve it became smaller than they were at the beginning.”

After six to seven years, he felt it was time to change things up in a bigger way. If Twitch suited his personality (“In a living room, chatting, chilling”) then YouTube suits his creativity.

“On YouTube, I can make different segments. I can dive back into my old hands, and I can Vlog now. All of a sudden it opens up all these new avenues of content and all of these ideas come up in my brain and I start conceptualizing them, and when that happened, I thought wow, that’s exactly what I needed. So then the decision was easy.”

Another crucial factor in the decision was the birth of his baby girl three months ago.

Lex currently travels to Belgium from his home in the Netherlands in order to play online poker as part of the global pool. That means time away from his family. “During the last two months of my wife’s pregnancy, I thought, how am I going to be in Belgium four days a week to play online and stream it?” he says.

But with his focus on YouTube, Lex can make amazing poker content from the comfort of his home studio.

What’s next for Lex Veldhuis?

One of the most exciting elements of Lex Veldhuis’ reinvention for poker fans is the news that he’ll be entering the world of video blogging (vlogging).

And it’s happening very soon. Lex will be vlogging every single day of his trip to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), which kicks off on January 22, 2023.

“I’m bringing a videographer and I’m excited to see what that’s like,” he says. “Then there’s EPT Paris after that, so that will be great.”

Naturally, with more time spent at home or at live events creating content for YouTube, that means his on-stream playing hours will go down. But if you think that will result in lower stakes and a dip in his ability, think again.

“I’m going to add some tough high-stakes fields so that I really make it count when I’m on stream,” he says. “This will be harder as I won’t have the streams throughout the week to support it and build the bankroll with lower stakes, so it becomes more high variance.

“But at the same time, I’m adding lots of poker coaching content to YouTube as well. I get really structured coaching–two to three hours per week–and that will keep my game sharp. I think I have a more educational role on YouTube than I had on Twitch.” 

Lex will cover a range of poker concepts in his YouTube videos, so everyone from beginners to more experienced players can benefit. Plus, the more well-oiled his YouTube channel becomes, the more hours he gains throughout the day that he can spend studying. 

“I think YouTube is more time efficient than streaming on Twitch, so it’s up to me how I spend those extra hours,” he says.

But the biggest goal Lex Veldhuis has set for himself in 2023 is to make greater use of his custom-built studio. “I have an insane green screen set up, and different camera angles, so I need to take it to the next level in terms of production in poker,” he says.

“Having felt like I was wandering without direction last year, I can really channel that. I don’t think there’s a limit to the content I can make.”

Check out Lex Veldhuis on YouTube.

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