The Poker Life Podcast returned in full force Wednesday as fan favorite Jason Mo was welcomed back for his sixth headline appearance in 15 months. Still fresh off their respective 2016 WSOP experiences, both Mo and Joey Ingram began by giving fans a unique take on this year’s Series as well as the Las Vegas EDC and GTO hairstyles.
Yet the hundreds of real-time viewers who flocked to Twitch and YouTube Wednesday knew it was only a matter of time before the 2015 APPT Seoul Main Event champion weighed in on highly debated topics in the poker industry. The inevitable hot tag came at the 14-minute mark when chicagojoey asked Mo about Andrew Barber’s insights on Tournament Markup.
By the time the show ended two hours later, Mo had gifted his gab on the Global Poker League, 2016 WSOP November Nine player Griffin Benger, private high stakes poker games, the upcoming EPT Barcelona Season 13, Daniel Negreanu, Team Upswing, Twitch Live Streaming, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, poker coaching, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar, Lee Jones, Gus Hansen, and the superior mental aptitude of German poker players compared to their American counterparts.
The Value of “Shoot” Poker Personalities
Loyal Poker Life Podcast viewers may find themselves wondering at times exactly why they enjoy Mo’s comments so much after more than 15 hours of appearances.
Indeed, how could PokerStars headline pro Daniel Negreanu get away with referencing all those awesome things that were coming our way this year without going into more detail? How is it that Microgaming Head of Poker Alex Scott got to use Papi’s platform in May to work in an hour-long MPN infomercial?
And how can Jason Mo get away with his unique brand of personal jabs? Like calling Global Poker League commentator Eric Danis a chubby Canadian dude who looks like he’s homeless? Don’t guests run the risk of offending viewers by using such methods to generate buzz around their ideas? How do these personalities manage to maintain a steady live viewership in 100-minute-plus formats?
The answer is that Poker Life Podcast guests back up their shtick with genuine, authoritative insight on topics that interest the poker community. And as long as Papi’s invites continue to shoot on sensitive issues until they run out of things to say, viewers are willing to accept (and even encourage) the occasional rant or shameless plug.
Marketing to Recreational Players
“The problem with Sports Entertainment today is that it’s not that fucking entertaining.”
-Jim Cornette: professional wrestling legend (manager)
Jason Mo thinks The Cube cost too much. You can read the rest in the TIMESTAMPS area below, but the basic premise of @cuntycakes123 criticism is based on GPL’s Season 1 programming being uninformative, difficult to follow and boring.
Papi defended GPL chief Alex Dreyfus and the brand to a point, but couldn’t ride the momentum for more than a few seconds before sighing and agreeing with his guest. Unsurprisingly, the GPL is a tough sell to many informed members of the poker community. That may not be a huge deal as long as recreational players can relate to the format, but can they?
Mo points out differences in GPL commentary compared to popular eSports games League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Hearthstone. When Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier met for a Hearthstone exhibition match last November at Blizzcon 2015, commentators Chris Chan, Rachel Quirico, Adrian Koy and Dan Stemkoski were careful not to dumb down the action too much for Hearthstone casuls.
The authoritative commentary provided by eSports broadcast teams during sanctioned matches is leaps and bounds ahead of GPL in-booth observations. While eSports announcers purposely leave basic concepts out of their casts, the Global Poker League believes it caters to a broader audience by being more inclusive. But again, do even recreational fans of the game care about programming that’s so spoon-fed in nature?
Case in point — high stakes poker pro Dan “Jungleman” Cates — a globally recognized name who owns fully-established credentials within the high stakes poker community.
Less than three months ago, Jungleman joined chicagojoey’s Poker Life Podcast from an undisclosed location (Romania) with crappy Internet and got close to 25,000 YouTube views. There’s not a single GPL video featuring Cates that rivals those numbers.
2016 WSOP One Drop champion and Super High Roller Bowl runner-up Fedor Holz talked with Papi this past Thursday, with roughly 10,000 viewers accessing the clip over the weekend. Yet somehow the Top 20 All Time Live Tournament Money Winner can’t manage 5,000 YouTube views competing heads-up in a showcase poker match?
Obviously the issues aren’t with the talent, but rather the setting and format. At one point in Wednesday’s live dialogue, Mo suggested Upswing Poker featured pro Doug Polk would be a good fit for the Global Poker League. Yet as the GTO host countered, it’s hard imagining WCGRider or any poker player successfully promoting the game in such an environment.
The GPL bills itself as a League that reaches a “mainstream” market, while Ingram’s shows are generally perceived to lean towards an informed, niche poker audience.
So either the poker industry has suddenly stumbled across 25,000 insiders who tune-in to the chicagojoey cast, or the numbers reflect casual fans opting for informed “shoot” entertainment over glass-enclosed works. There is an element of disconnect when big name pros find it difficult to thrive in a poker setting. Could this be because they’re essentially “playing for nothing,” as Mo puts it?
When poker fans watch an archived video clip of Fedor Holz winning the 2016 WSOP One Drop, they do so knowing the action represents a pivotal moment in the 22-year old German’s career. When Jungleman shoots on being owed millions of dollars by high profile poker players, viewers can see the frustration is genuine.
And when Jason Mo appears on the Poker Life Podcast with @Joeingram1 for a sixth time, it’s because his views connect with the community — which in large part is willing to forgive the homeless Canadian barbs as long as they are followed by insightful commentary.
Jason Mo Quotes (Timestamps)
Poker Life Podcast: July 20, 2016
YouTube Ratings: 5,250 Views / 63 Likes, 18 Dislikes
(14:20) Andrew Barber’s Tournament Markup document
“That guy has no clue what he’s talking about. Like absolutely no clue. Some of the things he was saying on your Podcast. Okay, so he makes a post on Twitter. It’s actually like a one or two paragraph thing about markup [Source: Google Drive Document] and it’s fairly well written and a lot of things logically make sense so I was like, ‘Okay, this guy probably knows what he’s talking about.’ And then he gets on your Podcast and the stuff he’s talking about is just like complete nonsense.”
“One of the main things he’s saying is that everyone should just charge lower markup for the reason that investors can’t make enough money at higher markups. There’s never any discussion as to an actual market that happens where it’s like a Bid & Ask type system where every single player should in theory sell for as much markup as they possibly can.”
“Like for example… the top players in the high buy-in tournaments this year specifically. I paid fairly absurd amounts of markup to a few players just because I think their edge is big enough to justify buying those pieces. As a disciplined investor I should take into account what I believe peoples’ edges are and if I’m making a winning proposition or not. None of this stuff is ever discussed. He never talks about how Investors should be diligent, how Players should be diligent in getting the correct value for their services.
And then afterwards he decides that his solution to this whole problem that he outlines is that he’s gonna sell action at markup but then donate the markup to charity? And somehow that solves the problem of (a) The investors not making money, or (b) The players themselves actually getting the better end of deals in buying or selling action? The problem is that once someone sells action and someone buys, and they agree on certain markup — there’s obviously going to be one winner and one loser. And that’s not determined until the tournament is played and you figure it out.
The worst thing you could possibly do (because there’s a margin of error between the buyer and the seller) is to donate a certain amount to the buy and the sell to charity. How does that make any sense? That hurts the Investor and that hurts the Player. The entire point of buying or selling at markup is for financial benefit… I didn’t really understand what [Barber] was talking about. I think he’s just kind of an idiot.”
(17:40) Is markup currently too high?
“Yeah I think the main problem is that there isn’t a market that allows people like me that can, in my opinion, effectively handicap players in certain fields to be able to undercut certain lines that people give for selling their action.
For example, a lot of people give bad pieces that you would buy, like the packages posted on TwoPlusTwo or like the scammy YouStake, or I don’t know what they’re called… sites?”
“I don’t know what the YouStake Performance of The Week is, but I would say that 90% of the people who sell on that site are probably not winning at the rate they think they are? And I would love to undercut almost all those packages but there isn’t an effective way for me to do that, which makes the market more of a seller’s market because they can charge whatever they want. A lot of the people on the site are sort of uninformed about [Return on Investment]. I would say about 98% of poker players are uninformed about ROIs.”
(21:50) What’s preventing Mo from handicapping?
“The main reason is the sites or the forums that allow you to buy and sell pieces strictly don’t allow other people to come in and do what I’m talking about. For example, if on TwoPlusTwo someone posts a package and let’s say they’re selling at 1.5 markup and I think they’re winning at maybe 1.1 — which is a huge disparity. I would go in and offer to sell their package at like 1.3 or 1.4 and I’m still making 0.2 or 0.1 on that bet. The problem is the site itself doesn’t allow anyone to do that which means there isn’t necessarily a free market. It’s just a market that exists where someone is trying to sell at a certain rate and you can either buy it at that rate or not buy it at all.”
(32:15) Global Poker League, GPL Commentators
“So the first week I was in Vegas I actually went to the Wynn or Encore poker room Opening Party? And I was out with a few friends and I talked with Alexandre Dreyfus… I don’t know if he wants me to share everything he said about it but basically a lot of money, like a ridiculous amount of money was invested in the GPL and he clearly has plans in the next two to five years that haven’t come to fruition yet.
So it’s hard to say whether it’s going to be a success or a failure, but it’s been going on for how long? Six months or something like that? And if you look at the Viewership on average on Twitch, it doesn’t even make it into the Top 3 to 5 poker streams at any given time it’s on? On average? Especially during SCOOP and stuff like that it didn’t make like the Top 10?
It just doesn’t seem like that many people are watching or that many people care. I was watching a bunch of the heads-up matches [a few months ago] because I play a lot of heads-up and I feel like I’m fairly good at heads-up? So I thought I could do the job of handicapping players against each other because you could see both sides’ hole cards. And even as a heads-up player I got super-bored within the first few matches I watched. And these are like some interesting matches. I was watching people like Jungle play. People like Olivier Busquet. It was just like not that exciting to watch.
And then the whole Cube thing… I think they paid way too much money to build that ridiculous Cube thing. And it’s actually kind of hard to follow the action because… the interface isn’t very good and a lot of times I’m watching a hand — and usually I’m pretty good at understanding what’s going on in a hand or understanding the action, especially if it gets complicated — and it’s really hard to follow even with the software and during the stream.
The commentators are actually horrible. Like they have no idea what’s going on at all. They don’t even talk about what happens in the hand or what kind of line people are taking. I don’t know. There’s this one like chubby Canadian dude who looks like he’s homeless. And I don’t know what he’s doing there but he clearly hasn’t played more than a hundred hands of poker in his life. And he’s there with like some mediocre MTT reg and they’re commentating heads-up matches like either of them have any business talking about what’s going on in those matches.”
(35:30) GPL commentator Griffin Benger 2016 WSOP ME November Nine
“That’s pretty sick actually. Good for him. He could probably use the million dollars or the $8 million.”
“I wonder how much they’re paying him? Probably not that much, right? They should really hire me to do the commentary for the GPL matches. I think I’d do a good job. They probably couldn’t afford me but I mean, I’d probably give them a discount. I’ll find like another homeless person off the street for cheaper than what’s his name… Eric Danis, and we’ll go from there.” (39:00)
(43:30) Poker “Sportification” lack of entertainment
“We’re essentially watching people play play-money poker. It would be way more entertaining if the GPL was actually played for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But then obviously most of the field wouldn’t want to enter.”
(50:10) Who’s playing in high stakes private games?
“Some major businessmen. Some pros you may or may not know. I’m pretty sure Ivey plays that game. I’m pretty sure Dwan plays that game.”
“[Tom Dwan has been playing] poker, baccarat… I don’t know what else. Rumor has it he loves his baccarat. He’s stuck like infinite playing baccarat. He’s basically an Asian person. I heard they let him out [of that sneaker-infested bunker] on good behavior this summer. He was spotted in Vegas this summer. So I guess they let him out of the dungeon… he was at Aria.”
(1:04:55) Germans better than Americans at poker?
“I think it’s because [Germans] are newer to the game? And maybe they’re a little more successful recently where I feel like fairly mediocre MTT pros that have been playing for maybe like 5 or 10 years and haven’t improved since 2012 or something like that and their results are decreasing… they’re still selling at the same markup though so good for them. They just seem more withered. They hate life more.”
“A pretty good example is stealthmunk. He was probably like a fairly reasonable poker player back in 2012 and then probably kind of like a live fish. I knew him from back in the day. He was friends with one of my friends when I was basically broke and he was bragging about being a multi-millionaire while drinking bottles of Jack. You ever see that video? Of him visiting yellowsub [Jeff Williams]?”
“There are very few Americans who are good at poker and most of them are on the elite level… the good ones, a lot of them relocate or move outside the [United States]. I honestly think that your average decent-to-good American reg that plays tournaments these days is substantially worse than the average German. Or the average Spanish players… the Spanish are actually pretty good at poker these days.”
(1:15:00) Comments on Team Upswing
(1:20:00) Twitch Poker streamers
(1:23:00) Break-even poker coaches
(1:38:00) Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar
(If you’re interested in improving your poker game, check out the Upswing Lab! Doug Polk and Ryan Fee collaborated on this A to Z training course and the great reviews keep rolling in! Check out our Upswing Lab testimonials page here)
David Huber (known as “dhubermex” online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).