Interview with Andrew Neeme

Andrew Neeme – Poker player and vlogger in Las Vegas
Interviewed by Somuchpoker’s Gaelle Jaudon

Andrew Neeme
Photo Credit – Andrew Neeme Instagram @yayandrew

Somuchpoker: Now, your current big project is your partnership with Brad Owen and Doug Polk in the poker room The Lodge. What was your motivation and what is your goal with that? 

Andrew Neeme: Yeah my fellow content creator Brad Owen and myself came up with this concept of the meet-ups games a few years ago. We have been making videos and poker content and we thought it would be great to bring people together because most of the interaction we made so far with the audience was through the comments only. We had all those people who loved to watch the videos and play poker recreationally and we realized something was missing in terms of a poker event where it would be a little bit more fun, social and recreational. All those things sort of came together to create this meet-up game concept. That was very successful and fun to do. Everyone seemed to enjoy it but we were always doing it in other people’s casinos. For a very long time we thought how great it would be to bring people to our own property, and do all that work of creating video but to promote our own place this time, and be able to run whatever game we want and give input on how the place is run. But obviously the most difficult part is that Brad and I had no experience on how to run a poker room, so there was always that barrier. But last year, our fellow content creator Doug Polk had moved to Texas and was thinking along the same lines after he discovered just how big the demand for poker was here and to see how well those independant poker rooms in Austin and Houston were doing. He also thought it would be nice to have his own space after all the work he’s done in poker. So it just made a lot of sense to all of us to combine and join forces. But it also made much more sense to partner with an existing room than to start everything from the ground. 


SMP: Apparently there will be some big games, 200/400 with Doug Polk and Jungleman and others. As you just said, you want to target recreational players and organize more fun and social events, so how are you going to balance and mix that with your audience? 

AN: That’s a really good example of something that we can do that is fun and creative. Doug is well known for his heads up poker over the years and we can run heads up challenges with him and basically everybody who wants to play. At the same time, Brad and I are more known for mid stakes adventures and our meet up cash games are traditionally 2/ 5 or 5/ 5 so we can focus on those and also hop in in the 1/ 2 games. We also have a 1/ 1 Pot Limit Omaha at The Lodge so we’re really trying to offer something for everybody. We’re building a proper live stream studio where we can run higher stakes games but we’re also making sure that we spend time and have these casual social poker nights where a lot of people don’t necessarily play to have an income from poker but to have a good time. We love to be a part of that as well. 

SMP: You’re a pioneer of poker vlogging, you started in 2015/16, you now have around 180K subscribers. Some videos reached like 500/600 k views, did you ever expect that kind of longevity and success? So with that experience, what type of video people like the most?

AN: I definitely did not expect that kind of success but I thought I could find a reasonable amount of people who could find an interest in what the daily life of a professional poker player who lives in Las Vegas looks like. I didn’t really know what number that audience could look like but I thought it could be possible and if it didn’t work out at least I tried. Actually it took off pretty quickly and it spoke to the enthusiasm that poker fans have for consuming poker content. There is a lot of people out there who don’t have as much time to spend at the poker tables as they wish they could, so the live poker vlog is a window not only to the professional poker life but just to sitting down at a poker table and playing hands without risking their own money. Now there are much more poker personalities and content that they might feel connected to, they can pick and choose or watch more, that’s great. So I didn’t expect to reach those numbers but it’s very cool to see the everlasting enthusiasm for the poker world. 


SMP: Is there any other type of poker content that you would love to do one day? To exploit even more that skill that you have at telling stories and meeting people? Poker stories, talks, debates?

AN: There is an idea that I had in my mind for a while. A series of videos with a similar format to the poker vlog, but slightly more collaborative and that would give a little bit more meaning to each win or each loss. Because a lot of the time I think in these poker vlogs you win some money and that’s kind of it, it becomes a bit repetitive. Even if I don’t think the poker audience really minds if it’s repetitive, for me it becomes a bit annoying to always tell the same story over and over. So I’m trying to describe it without saying too much but I would like to create something where the money involved has a little bit more meaning rather than just a win or a loss. Maybe also use the money for something particular at the end of the video. I actually recently filmed the first video in Austin and if that’s well received I would love to do much more videos along those lines. But I think in general that aspect is missing, even in the super high rollers shows you see those guys winning huge amounts of money but you never really know what all that money means to them. You don’t know what percentage of their own money they’re playing for, you don’t know who’s backing them and how those events  affect their life in the end. You just see those big prizes where you think it would be real life-changing money but it doesn’t really seem like it based on how excited they seem to win it. It’s hard to get that sort of context so I would like to give more meaning to that. 


SMP: What do you think are or will be the new trends in terms of poker content now? What should evolve the poker content? Because in an interview you said poker was a slow-moving industry, is the poker industry missing out on opportunities to be more visible because of this?

AN: Yes it is slow-moving and it slows to adapt these new platforms and new types of media to poker. There are a lot of casinos and poker rooms today that are anti-video and even photos sometimes, which seems very silly because it’s very much a part of our culture now. I don’t think gambling should be something that is so hidden and secretive. Even sports betting has become a part of mainstream television programs, you can see odds now in sport programming now. But a lot of casinos still have that barrier and don’t allow that sort of content. Today there are much more poker vlogs, but I still don’t think it’s saturated even if we have much more content. I think there is still room for people to be creative and showcase their personalities. As far as online poker goes, softwares are very similar across the industry, it’s more identical but the streamers are doing a good job at showing their personalities. I do streaming very occasionally and I know all the hard work it represents, but I still would love to see a streamer do something very unique and different. 


SMP: As you just said there are much more platforms and types of media today and recently the Hustler casino streamed an amazing game with top influencers, including MrBeast, and poker pro Tom Dwan and Phil Hellmuth, who received a lot of criticism for his attitude. So it seems the poker industry is definitely trying to evolve with today’s culture. What did you think of that game? Or maybe what could have been done differently? 

AN: Yeah that event is definitely on the top 5, if not the best livestream poker production ever. It was so much fun, so captivating. They were playing for big dollars amounts and the personalities that were there and the energy that they brought into it was fantastic. Just to see the number of people that were watching and the overall excitement brought by this game was awesome. I think it’s a good demonstration that we should be embracing all the new media that people are producing and  individuals as creators. The creator class should be welcomed with open arms. There is always a spot for the old school poker pro for sure, I think people want to keep seeing. But, if we want to try to maximize the audience and players and become more mainstream I think we should definitely utilize more people who are already doing that in their own fields and be a stick in the mud so to speak when you’re a pro that is not winning at the table. It’s important to keep a fun and jovial attitude in that kind of game. Big thumbs up for the Hustler casino for having organized this, it’s really huge for the game.  


SMP: You did meet up games a bit everywhere in the Us, Canada ect.., What was the most surprising place you’ve ever been to? Or the weirdest? 

AN: We went to a very small independant cardroom just outside of Seattle. The place was called the Hideaway, they had maybe six tables, but unfortunately it no longer exists. We also went to a place in Deadwoods in South Dakota, which again was a very small room. They have gorgeous scenery. It was really fun to fly a drone up there and catch images. When I first started making videos I definitely did not expect to go to Deadwoods South Dakota, so that was definitely surprising and fun to do. We went to London too. We did a four day event there and so many people showed up to just hang out and play poker across all the four days, that was awesome. I’m a big fan of London, I lived there for a little while and to be able to go back there and do those meet up games was great. But I would say every spot that we go to is usually a really good time in its own way. We went to Detroit recently, which is the area I grew up in, so I finally made a meet-up game there. That was also a really good time. Every spot is kind of unique and fun in its own way. 


SMP: The WSOP are starting very soon now, are you going to vlog during the series? Do you have a schedule? 

AN: I’ve never been one to make a schedule. As a long-time cash game player, it comes and gows, I stay as long as the game is good, a lot of the time I stay longer than I should because of that or maybe because I’m stuck. So no, I never really made a schedule for the WSOP but I’ve been very much getting into the Pot Limit Omaha over the last years and I cashed a few PLO events in the previous WSOP. I’ve been putting in more work and I have a goal of making a final table in a PLO event so I’m definitely going to try to play a lot of PLO events and of course capture that in a vlog if it happens. I don’t have too much plans regarding the WSOP in terms of the content but as I mentioned before, I’m trying this new format of video and with so many people coming to Vegas for the series it would be great to find other people and great personalities to collaborate with. 


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Gaelle Jaudon

Travelling and working in the poker industry for 8 years, Gaelle is working on a regular basis for different poker media in Europe and the US such as for the live reporting, club poker radio where she does live interview of poker personalities, somuchpoker and also as a freelance event manager for the WPT. Originally from Paris, she has a master degree in journalism and marketing.

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