"Twitch is about entertainment, not results" - Ben Spragg

We chat to the PokerStars Pro about Twitch banter, England winning the World Cup and if a streamer needs to also be a big winning player.

Spraggy PokerStars
Ben 'Spraggy' Spragg

How did you discover Twitch and what made you realise you wanted to do it?

Spraggy: I’ve been a fan of video games all my life. I’ve been smashing Football Manager, FIFA and Civilization since a young age. I got really into Dota 2 when I was about 19/20 and started watching Dota 2 streamers on Twitch. I think that was my first real exposure to watching people playing games online. I did have an account on Twitch back when it was “Justin.tv” but that was just to watch totally legitimate football streams. When I found out you can play games, be sociable AND get paid to do it? What more did I need to hear?

You and Fintan Hand seem to be the ‘banter’ streamers (or maybe the Ant & Dec of Twitch), do you like that lable, is it accurate?

Spraggy: Our stream certainly has a focus on the fun side of things, poker sometimes becomes a sideshow. I think it’s pretty fair we have that label, one of the main reasons people enjoy our stream I think is the back and forth between us. It most likely stems from a UK and Ireland thing where being friends with someone in those countries means you just take the piss out of them at every opportunity. I know for a fact that some of the North American audience and even North American streamers think I’m a bit of a dick because I say “mean” things, but it’s always meant in a friendly and playful way. The tone of “banter” sometimes gets lost in translation across the pond though.

What is your advice to fledgling streamers?

Spraggy: Be different, stand out. Often people who want to stream do so because they watch a lot of Twitch themselves. So, as a viewer what would you enjoy watching? What could be done that nobody is doing at that moment. The whole, one webcam, poker table, chat deal is a really hard market to stand out in. So do you change something in the presentation? Do you change something in the presenting style? I always thought it would be cool to do a gimmick stream on Twitch. Why is nobody streaming as a character? Why is nobody streaming as “incognito”? Why is nobody streaming in a Luchador mask? Do something creative but mostly have fun. Either that or just grind the ever-living hell out of it.

"People get hung up on results"

Spraggy PokerStars
"Be different, stand out"

We are getting to the point where a poker streamer could make a living from Twitch alone. Do you think a streamer still has to fundamentally be a winning player to also make money from Twitch?

Spraggy: It really depends on the stream, if you’re out there on a stream talking over hands, discussing strategies and what not then absolutely you should be a winning player, if not I think you have an obligation to kind of qualify your advice with a “but I’m no expert” tag or something along those lines. I’ve always said that Twitch is about entertainment way more than it is about technical prowess though. If someone is funny, having a good time and brings people together to watch a card game then who really cares? People get hung up over this on Twitch. Demanding graphs, needling for results and questioning “when was the last time you won?” I think people can take it a little too seriously, when ultimately it’s just a fun place for people who like playing cards to watch people who play cards, play cards.

How has the Platinum Pass Adventure gone so far?

Spraggy: The Platinum Pass Adventure has been a lot of fun. People have been diving in two feet first and so they should with so much on the line. The standard of entries in stuff like the photoshops has been immense, some of them are legitimate design masterpieces and others are so shockingly bad that their comedic value is immeasurable.

What would your advice be to our audience wanting to enter it?

Spraggy: Come and hang out in the stream, it’s a very relaxed environment, a lot of the daily challenges are really easy to enter, deliberately silly and you have nothing to lose. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to win a seat in the final 72 player SNG you’re going have a good time hanging out.

"England will win the World Cup"

Spraggy PokerStars
The World Cup Show

I bet you never thought poker and Twitch would see you hosting a football show with Fintan and Lex Veldhuis, what’s that been like so far? You must love the sports side of PokerStars these days?

Spraggy: I’m a massive football fan so to be able to talk about the World Cup as part of my job has been great. I always have a flutter during the World Cup, so to be able to do this and get some value for the audience with the freerolls is the perfect combo.

Could that be a season long thing for the club season afterwards?

Spraggy: You’ll have to ask the higher ups on that one! I’d love to do something similar for the whole season. I mentioned earlier that poker sometimes becomes a sideshow because Fintan and I will ramble endlessly about all manner of nonsense. A platform for us to discuss one of our shared loves would be great, not to mention the fact that we have heaps of football fans in our community.

What was the reception like for a sports show in Twitch?

Spraggy: Generally, it was very positive. I think it helps that it’s kind of dumb with the funky green screened desk setup, the start of last episode was the three of us sat in super imposed Russian dolls so even if you’re not a football fan you’re going to be mildly entertained by it. We have two options on Twitch, we can either stay in our safe little box and stream poker tables from now until eternity, or, we can try new content, new ideas, new formats. You must be willing to do stuff that maybe not everyone is prepared to do to hopefully find something that brings a whole new dynamic to what we do on Twitch.

Who do you think will win the World Cup (other than England)?

Spraggy: England. Having been forced by the interviewer to give an alternate answer I would like to note my personal offense. No further comment.

Have you already won in the banter stakes given Lex and Fintan don’t have a team to support in the competition?

Spraggy: Easiest win of my life. It’s low hanging fruit to go after the lads just because Ireland and the Netherlands didn’t qualify. Luckily they make it super easy for me to mock them because Fintan thought Egypt was going to win the World Cup and so far Lex has predicted Saudi Arabia to beat Russia (they lost 5-0) and Iceland to beat Argentina.

You can follow Ben Spragg on Twitch

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