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May 15, 2019

Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew Leaves PokerStars – Tired of Daily Grind & Streaming

By RTR Dennis

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Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew was a sponsored pro with Team PokerStars Online for almost a decade. However, he recently made the decision to part ways with PokerStars.

Lew has made his name by putting in an insane amount of volume on the Stars cash tables. Nanonoko has also become one of the most-prolific Twitch streamers.

But he’s tired of the daily grind and having to constantly stream his sessions. You can see more about Lew’s decision to leave PokerStars below, along with a recap of his outstanding poker career.

Lew Grateful for His Poker Profits & Friends

Nanonoko and PokerStars appear to have parted on good terms. He’s not unhappy with his former employer, but rather just tired of everything that goes into being a sponsored pro.

In a series of tweets, Lew discusses how he began playing poker because it was a fun way to make a living. He initially hid his gambling career, because it was considered taboo among his traditional Chinese family. Nanonoko also resisted making many poker friends in the early going, since he didn’t want to become ingrained in the lifestyle.

Lew eventually opened up to his parents about playing poker as he became more successful. He also met some great friends through the game, including his wife, Celina Lin.

Nanonoko notes how he’s played an incredible 13 million hands over the past nine years. This works out to just under 4,000 hands per day.

Grinding and Twitch Streaming Wore on Lew

While he’s enjoyed the many benefits from poker, Lew has begun losing his passion for the game more recently. He cites the removal of Supernova Elite (top VIP level) in 2016 and having to stream his sessions as big reasons for quitting.

Here’s part of what Lew wrote: “I still love poker and consider it my profession but there wasn’t an itch that I need to grind day in and day out. Probably why I didn’t put as much thought into the whole SNE debacle when that developed.

“Just sort of followed the line as I was content and not focused on purely playing as much simply because I didn’t need to.

“[…] While I think [Twitch] is a great platform, it felt too forced for me and I didn’t enjoy it. What first I told myself, streaming will be easy.

“I’m a good player and it’s fun interacting with my fans. Coming from the background as the biggest cash game grinder, I figured this is another feat that I can do well in.

“But in the end, it’s one thing to be playing 24 tables for hours straight battling all of the best players and playing epic high stakes heads up matches of the pure competition and then playing 1 tournament table on a laptop without a base location.”

Lew continues by discussing how he had to fly out of the US (where PokerStars is largely absent) to “grind hard for a few weeks.” He has finally grown tired of this lifestyle and wants to “feel free.”

A Look Back at Nanonoko’s Poker Career

Randy Lew started out as a professional video game player. He particularly excelled at Tekken and Street Fighter II. But by the mid-2000s, he became enamored with online poker.

He saw some friends playing the game and took it up himself. Lew wasn’t an immediate success, busting many deposits before finally becoming a winner. However, he was one of the top low-stakes players at PokerStars by 2007.

From here, he embarked on a legendary streak where he achieved Supernova Elite five years in a row (2007-2011). He played an unheard-of 24 tables simultaneously and racked up numerous rewards through Supernova Elite.

Perhaps nanonoko’s greatest achievement is the time that he entered the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the most online poker hands in eight hours. Lew tallied 14,548 hands within this time frame while also showing a net profit of $7.65 (part of the requirement).

In the short documentary I Am Nanonoko, Lew discusses how he became a multi-tabling god. He slowly added tables and improved to the point where he could profitably play 24 tables at once (sometimes more).

Lew professes to having made around $2.7 million in profits (SNE rewards & playing profits) by 2011. He’s most likely added quite a bit to this total within the past several years.

What will Lew Do Now?

Nanonoko isn’t leaving poker for good. However, he definitely appears to be leaving his high-volume days behind.

As mentioned in his series of tweets, he just doesn’t feel like living a jet-setting lifestyle in order to play at PokerStars and stream sessions. Lew instead wants to take on new challenges and reclaim some of his life.

Unfortunately, nanonoko didn’t leave any hints on his next move. It’s hard to speculate on exactly what he’ll do, given that he’s been playing poker for well over a decade.

Considering how Lew has excelled at both pursuits he’s tried (video games & poker), he’ll likely be successful in whatever he does next.