Jaime Staples is one of the most famous poker streamers, besides Jason Somerville. He primarily plays on partypoker after joining partypoker Team Online in 2018.
Recently, YouTube removed numerous poker videos including some of his content.
Interview by Gaelle Jaudon
Somuchpoker: You’re one of the main poker streamers today, and many videos have been deleted on YouTube recently. This has already happened to you in the past, so how did you handle that situation? Did you have to modify the way you were doing your videos?
Jaime Staples: Yeah, it’s been a really difficult situation for the poker community and even broader for some of the gaming communities, as well, you know. It’s been a difficult thing because you talk to creator support, you talk to YouTube and you only get some formal answers, but no one is really getting to the bottom of the situation. So, I talked to a few guys on Twitter that deal with the gaming aspect of YouTube, and they’ve been able to help sort of guide me in getting my channel fixed and put back, but there hasn’t been a solid ruling yet as to where poker stands on YouTube. Problem is that the bot is catching words in the description and is correlating those words with people that are putting gambling links in the description, which is not allowed. So, even training sites are getting caught as an account that must be flagged, and they’re getting cut, which is not how it should work. But as I can see, almost everyone is being affected. I’m still being affected. I have about 30 videos that are off my channels and I have two strikes on both my blog and my channel so that’s a tough spot.
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) February 18, 2020
SMP: As you said, just the words in the description, not specifically the links, can be a problem.
Jaime Staples: Well, I received a notice that I had a link to a training site in my description. It wasn’t a poker site where you could play, which is definitely against YouTube’s rules, and they deemed that to be an unacceptable link that’s in breach of their terms of service but that’s fine, you’re allowed to link a training site, and yet they interpreted it a different way, or the algorithm and the AI are interpreting it differently. So that’s why none of this makes sense, and none of us really have any answers. I would have loved to step in and even work for free on that issue. I messaged the YouTube guys, saying, “let’s just have a central contract here, have all the people who have issues, and communicate that to you guys, because poker deserves a spot on YouTube.” This is our game and we deserve to be seen, but they don’t seem really interested…
SMP: Did you succeed in talking to a human on the chat, and not only a robot, someone that can take a real decision?
Jaime Staples: I’ve spoken with a few humans on Twitter, the head of gaming in America and the head of gaming. I’ve been able to have a bit of correspondence with them, but nothing official, in terms of, this is what you have to do to fix the problem, and here’s how we’re going to handle it going forward. That hasn’t happened.
SMP: You started vlogging a lot about poker and your daily life in 2016, including personal things, like quitting smoking and losing weight. Vlogging was really a new thing at that time, and it was really unusual. What motivated you to share your evolution and private life with the poker community?
Jaime Staples: I guess I had a desire that, if I was going to play poker for a living, I wanted it to be bigger than just for myself. I wanted to build a wider project for my career, for what I’ll be spending all my time on. So, when I decided to go full-time with Poker, I wanted to help influence the game industry in a positive light. We know how great poker is, what an amazing game it is, and I’m sure we talk to people in our lives who will never give it a chance, so I wanted to be someone that changed that perspective, beyond just making money in poker, and vlogging was one of the ways to do that.
SMP: You actually have two poker channels, pokerstaples and jaimestaples. Why choose to create two channels in such a niche market like poker?
Jaime Staples: I think online poker is very niche, it’s strong, but very niche, whereas vlogging has an ability to interact with people that might be interested in the human being or the lifestyle, and therefore find out about poker and maybe change the perception of poker over time. So, my pokerstaples channel is purely about playing poker; tournaments and cash games, while the vlogging is more of the human aspect behind the poker player and what it’s like to be a poker pro.
SMP: You were sponsored by PokerStars for a very long time and you recently joined the partypoker team. You declared that it gave you the opportunity to make a better impact on the online poker community. So, what seduced you more into partypoker compared with what you already had with PokerStars?
Jaime Staples: I spent four years with PokerStars, like you said, and I really enjoyed my time there. I thought they were working on good things. I did not necessarily agree with all the business aspects, like trying to essentially make more money, as opposed to grow the game, but I still enjoyed it. The opportunity to work with partypoker came up and they took an interest on Twitch, and were really investing in, sort of, having people from Twitch and finding out what they’re doing. So, for me it was an opportunity to head up a team of 12 creators, and really have a lot of creative freedom to do interesting and cool poker projects, whereas I felt the alternative was going to be, okay I’ll collect a paycheck and do my dues, and that was kind of the end for me. I felt stagnant, whereas this new opportunity allowed me to grow and make a bigger impact on the game. That’s why I left.
SMP: As you just said, the gaming aspect of the game is really booming. Partypoker recruited you and your brother, and more recently, the Canadian streamer, Jordan Drummond. In your opinion, what does this reveal about the future of the poker world? How is it going to evolve?
Jaime Staples: I think the poker world is catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to online content and marketing. It seems that, for such a long time in the game, at least when I came up, everything was just on TV shows, and we were maybe a little bit slow to pick up making your way onto YouTube for internet-based content or even podcasts. There were very few poker podcasts 10 years ago, maybe a couple. I think we’re just catching up, and if we think about it, online poker sites have a product that is played on the internet. They are not going to play their internet game on a TV show. So, this is an ability to share their game with a market of people that may be interested in playing it directly to them, as opposed to live tournaments, putting a patch on some pros, and hoping some people are going to find out. This is actually much more effective in showing people this is the game we actually play, and not just only the stories about the people who play.
SMP: On a very different subject, you made a buzz in 2018 with the bet you made with your brother versus Bill Perkins. You both had to get to the same weight in one year to win 150k. It was quite an unusual prop bet in the poker community, it showed something different and had healthy goals. What did you learn about yourself with that bet, because you had to lose a lot of weight, and also about the poker community and the support you received?
Jaime Staples: It is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done! I started the year at 306 pounds and I think my brother was at like 110 pounds and we had to meet in the middle. It was an incredible journey, and it was kind of ridiculous to take on in the year. I guess I was surprised that we really did it, like, day after day and month after month, we were on track and it happened. I also learned a lot of things about fitness and health, and how to put it together with the things that I can do in the ways that I work. And following that, I also learned how much of a toll it took on me! It was very, very difficult and I really felt the effects of that after. That’s something that I still fight with today and I’m working through it to regain the strength that I had, because it was such an extreme journey, but it was amazing and I’m really proud of the accomplishment.
SMP: Do you have other bets coming soon?
Jaime Staples: Oh, I’m prop bet-retired for now! I’m only focused on streaming poker on Twitch and my work with partypoker. The prop bet process was a lot of fun, but now I’m really enjoying going at my own pace and working on personal improvements. Money bets are kind of an emotional bondage; they get you excited for a while, but don’t necessarily heal the initial problem that you had. So, I’m looking to just change me without that extra money motivation.
SMP: What is the best advice you could give to YouTubers today to keep their channel and avoid all those issues?
Jaime Staples: So, I think with YouTube, anytime you’re putting a link to anything poker related, whether it’s within the rules or not, you’re adding a level of risk. Obviously, that’s the way a lot of people monetize their channels and make it worthwhile to spend the time, but if you really want to just preserve your channel, avoid putting links in the description below. But at the end of the day, our game is great, so it’s worth continuing to create content. YouTube is going to figure this out because there is no chance poker doesn’t belong on YouTube. The biggest video site in the world and the game of poker will coexist! They just need to sort their stuff out, and we will continue forward.
SMP: You’re kind of everywhere today, you have your channels, your work with partypoker, you also do commentaries for the WPT, and you play. How do you handle everything and find the balance?
Jaime Staples: Yeah it is a bit of a disaster, honestly! It’s just kind of chaos. I have a calendar, so I add things to the calendar, and then it’s almost like a willingness to fail in some aspects. At that some point in your career you can do it all, and it just gets more and more and more, and at some point, you have to start failing or otherwise you’re just going to die. So, I’m trying prioritizing what I do, saying no to a lot more things, and I think it’s important to take time for yourself as well. So about two hours a day I take for myself, and that’s exercise or that’s reading, that’s hanging out with my fiancé, just no productivity; it’s purely about me with no guilt. I think that’s really helpful if you want to keep going for longer periods of time.
SMP: How would you explain the success of your channels? What do people like in them? What’s the Jaime Staples touch?
Jaime Staples: I don’t entirely know, but I think the willingness to answer anyone’s question when it comes to poker, and even those mundane bankroll questions, or I just took a bad bit, did I make the wrong move? Etc. You hear it six times a day, every day, for almost six years now. But those are people on their journey, and a little piece of advice can really help them. So, that’s it; I think I am willing to go the extra mile, whereas a lot of other streamers or content creators are just kind of bored with that, and they want to do their thing. I think that’s important, speaking to your audience in their language, at their point in the journey.
SMP: What are your next tournaments? Are you going to be on some live events soon?
Jaime Staples: I’m purely focused on Twitch online right now and our partypoker team online, with Jeff Gross. I’m spending all of my time online. If I had to choose one event, though, it would have to be the WPT in Paris, because I love Paris and the French. I proposed to my fiancé in Paris, actually, so I really wanted to be there. I think it was, for sure, a great event!
You can follow Jaime on his Twitch channel – PokerStaples