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Mar 02, 2015

Weekly Flop: Somerville + PokerStars, Twitch Explosion, Poker Bot Investigation

By RTR Dennis

Upon leaving Ultimate Poker in September 2014, Jason Somerville promptly declared that he's "not a cheap date." Apparently, PokerStars is willing to spend the cost to wine and dine Somerville since they've signed him to a new deal...It's little surprise that Somerville is joining Stars, given his massive Twitch following. And as the Wall Street Journal reports, Twitch and online poker are a match made in heaven...Many players know that bots are out there, but one player took it upon himself to uncover a bot ring at Microgaming. And as you'll find out in the Weekly Flop, this could mean lots of refunds for players.

PokerStars signs Jason Somerville to lead them in Twitch era

These days, simply winning millions of dollars in live tournaments is by no means a clear path to an online poker sponsorship deal. But if you can provide something beyond glossy tournament results, well, that's something poker sites are interested in. Case in point, PokerStars recently inked a deal with Jason Somerville, host of the very-popular 'Run It Up' podcast. Run It Up is the most-important part of this deal because Somerville has amassed almost 53,000 followers on his Twitch-based show.

As you may know, Twitch has become really popular among video-game players since it offers the ability to live stream play. This service also allows online poker players to live stream their sessions and offer analysis/strategy on each hand. Given that Somerville has $2 million in online winnings along with $4 million in live earnings, Run It Up has become especially popular because of all the advice the WSOP bracelet winner can offer Twitch users.

PokerStars kicked their Twitch channel off at the beginning of March with Run It Up as the featured podcast. Now, after ushering in PokerStars' Twitch channel, Somerville is in the midst of broadcasting for a minimum of four hours daily, for 70 straight days.

Will Twitch propel online poker in the future?

The methods for learning poker strategy have progressively gotten better over the past decade. Sure, books and articles still make nice reading material, but coaching, forums and training videos are far-more popular methods these days. And now, we could very well be entering an era where Twitch is the next big thing in taking players' games to the next level.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on this matter, specifically how Amazon Inc. hopes poker can expand its billion-dollar streaming service. One interesting statistic from the article is how Twitch already has 100 million users, and Amazon hopes that they can draw plenty more from the 150 million poker players worldwide.

What helps Twitch stand out above other services like poker training videos is that viewers can actually ask the broadcaster questions in real time. Furthermore, there's definitely entertainment value here since viewers can critique a pro's play or debate with each other via the chat log. Given the value here, it's little surprise that PokerStars was willing to invest in one of the Twitch poker segment's more-prominent members.

Bot ring uncovered on Microgaming

It used to be that poker bots were just some fun novelty in the online poker world that could still be beaten. However, bots have actually become quite annoying these days due to their improved ability.

A prominent TwoPlusTwo user named 'Internet' has had enough and decided to do some investigating after noticing suspicious play on the Microgaming network. As Internet explains, most poker networks like to keep this matter hush-hush, but they will remove confirmed bot accounts eventually.

Microgaming, on the other hand, is not only removing the accounts, but also issuing refunds to affected players. Additionally, they're going to confiscate winnings from the accounts and allow those who won against the bots to keep their money. This is a class-act move by Microgaming and some excellent work by Internet to help uncover another bot ring.