"YouTube is the future" - Parker Talbot

Barry Carter chats to 888poker pro and prolific YouTube and Twitch streamer Parker 'Tonkaaaap' Talbot.

Parker Talbot 888poker
Parker Talbot

I’ve followed your stream for a long time and I think I’ve worked out the reason you are popular – there is no filter between what you think and what you say out loud.

Parker Talbot: That’s how it started out, when I started streaming I was like “fuck all these Shills I’m just going to be me and uncensored”. There wasn’t really a plan with it, I just didn’t want to do it and not enjoy myself by censoring myself. Within reason of course, I’m not trying to insult anybody or be overly aggressive. I feel like I have dialed it down a little bit.

How much of your online play is NOT streamed?

Parker Talbot: Very small, maybe 1%. If I’m going to play poker off stream it will be next to nothing. I’ll play 30 tournaments on a stream but if I do off stream I’ll play four tables, then be one tabling pretty quickly and watch a movie on the side.

"Streaming is not a good way to learn"

Parker Talbot 888poker
"Streaming makes poker harder"

Do you feel like you are giving up edge given anyone at your table can watch you play?

Parker Talbot: I don’t think there are too many positives unless you are hardcore metagaming everybody all the time – which I am not. For me more than people getting reads on me, it’s just a lot of work, it’s a crazy amount of work, how much behind the scenes goes into it, so it gives you less time to study. The general decline of your game, not caring less, but focussing less on your game and more on the show, it’s a hard balance which is really difficult, while also playing high stakes and beating the games.

Has it in any way helped your game to put yourself under that level of scrutiny?

Parker Talbot: Not really, a lot of people say they streaming would be a great way to learn the game and force themselves to be really focussed, but that’s a backwards way of thinking, you are focussing on being entertaining. You can also fall into the same routine where you say the same thing over and over in certain spots and repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Having worked with mental game coach Jared Tendler a lot, he says a lot of best decisions you make in then Zone you can’t articulate yet anyway because they are still being learned.

Parker Talbot: That’s the way I play poker, a friend of mine Conor (‘1_conor_b_1’), who is one of the top five MTT regs, I lived with him for a year and a half and he was more theory orientated than I was. We almost always ended up at the same conclusion but he would be able to articulate his thoughts but I wouldn’t be able to, even though intuitively I feel I had the skill set.

With so many people watching, and trolling, does it at least force some more retrospective thoughts with a misplayed hand?

Parker Talbot: It does not force retrospective thoughts, it forces a frustrating scenario. Here is how it works with the masses, if you have 500 viewers you’ll have a few guys who know what’s going on, as soon as you get to the 5,000 viewer mark, 4,900 of those people are not going to have an understanding of how to play high stakes poker. They’ll see you triple barrel it off with no equity in a $1,000 buy-in event in a fantastic bluff spot where it’s a fantastic play against a certain player, and then you’ll get roasted by 80% of the chat. These people feed off each other then all of a sudden you have a mob mentality, especially if you go on a downswing. But, if you get that bluff through, they think you are God’s gift to the game, it’s very results orientated.

"YouTube is the future"

Your YouTube channel gets surprisingly high views considering it is just edited highlights of the Twitch stream, any idea why? They do tend to be good headlines and thumbnails.

Parker Talbot: It’s good thumbnails, it’s clickbait. I got shit from another Pro the other day for using clickbait on my videos. I said if you make online content and you don’t use clickbait, you are giving up equity, it’s pointless trying to do it organically. It’s the same reason I am popular on Twitch, it’s unfiltered and nobody else is doing well and beating the tournaments I’m playing.

Do you feel like part of the poker media given how involved you are in content production?

Parker Talbot: Sure. I feel the entire poker media has never utilised social media the way that they should, like most industries. The fact we can drive traffic through our followings and we are going hardcore into the editing, we know what we are talking about, it’s a bit of a leg up on the media guy who wants to start his own channel. I can guarantee you Doug would call himself a YouTube media personality at this point.

Could somebody in poker make a career just on their Twitch and YouTube income alone yet?

Parker Talbot: It’s all relative with what you are satisfied with. It’s a tough game to get into. If you are a small stakes guy you want to build yourself into a mid stakes player before you get into that. The thing is people will always select somebody who is less entertaining at high stakes over somebody who is super entertaining at micro stakes. It’s a really hard space to find a balance in.

Could poker produce a breakout YouTube star who is famous outside of the game itself?

Parker Talbot: I think so, I spoke to Doug a decent amount on this, we definitely think YouTube is the way of the future and I’ll definitely be making more content there. The cool thing about YouTube is nobody competes – Doug, Jaime, Jeff Gross and I, none of us are competing – we all benefit from people making more videos. When somebody watches one of Doug’s videos, the next recommended video is mine and vice versa. It’s not like Twitch where if you have the top spot you are top dog and you’ll get more viewers than anyone else. YouTube is not a live stream, you can watch it anytime. Also you get way more people, it’s the biggest platform. I definitely think somebody like Doug in two or three years could get half a million views per video.

You can follow Parker Talbot on YouTube and Twitch.

How appealing do you think poker is to regular gamers on YouTube and Twitch? Let us know in the comments:

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