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Streamers Fintan Hand and Benjamin Spragg aren’t the most well known poker players PokerStars has ever signed to its online team.
They could, though, play a pivotal role in the years to come.
Spragg and Hand were only announced to PokerStars Team Online Pro last month but they add yet another valuable weapon to a streaming arsenal that already includes Jason “Jcarver” Somerville, Jaime Staples and Kevin Martin.
The pair seem like long-time friends but in reality Hand, who hails from Ireland, and Spragg, of England, met just three months ago. Both have been playing online poker since they were 18 years old but mostly low limit cash games and tournaments.
They both started streaming full-time and PokerStars soon took notice. Spragg and Hand bring a unique low-stakes angle to poker streaming and could potentially bring a new generation of players into the fold.
We caught up with the pair at PSC Barcelona and tried to get a read on the future of streaming and how Spragg and Hand got involved with it in the first place:
PokerListings: What do people like to watch the most?
Fintan Hand: They prefer big tournaments to Sit & Go’s, mostly because an MTT is like a long story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. In Sit & Go’s you just play for 40 minutes, which isn’t long enough to really engage people.
Benjamin Spragg: It’s definitely easier to engage people through tournaments than cash games as well. If you have a really good day in cash and win ten buy-ins, that’s $1,000, which is good money but not exactly life changing.
I recently turned $7.50 into five grand in one tournament and it’s much more interesting to watch that than to watch a cash game player grind out the same amount of money.
PL: There are many who play well but only few who want to show others how they play. Why did you get into streaming?
FH: Oh, we’re not really that good, though. We’re really more of attention whores.
BS: Well, you are. I’ve always enjoyed the entertainment aspect of things so I would have liked to stream any game. The problem is I’m not good at anything else and I’m only passable as a poker player.
Nobody would watch me stream anything else because I’m terrible.
FH: We’ve been grinding for a number of years and it can get a little tiresome because you’re mostly just sitting at home. Twitch gives you the chance to build and be part of a community. It’s just far more social.
PL: Isn’t live streaming a lot more about entertainment than just poker? Because most of the time you’re not actually doing anything.
FH: Yes, even a short 30-second gap where you’re not saying anything is horrible. You need to be talking all the time without being repetitive. You need to be talking all the time without being repetitive.
BS: You’re just talking completely nonsense all the time.
PL: Which is probably the best you can do in these situations…
FH: Only if you’re one of the top 20 players in the world could you stream without talking and still get a big following.
BS: Yeah, Phil Ivey could probably sit there without a microphone and would still have a huge following…
FH: …but most people actually would need a personality.
PL: Where are you going to go with these streams?
BS: The idea is to bring our two streams together under the PokerStars channel so that at some point we can stream simultaneously and the people can see both our hole cards and our tables on one screen.
It would give us much more action. Also, if we’re playing in the same tournament and one of us busts there’s still a good chance that the other one goes deep into it.
FH: Even before we were streaming together we would look into each other’s streams and… can I say “take the piss” out of each other?
FH: Ok. It got to a point where people actually thought we don’t like each other.
BS: Which we don’t, by the way.
FH: Well, we get along very well but there was a night when I was teasing him about his clothes and some people took it the wrong way and thought I stepped over the line.
PL: Since you were sporting a clover suit at the final table of the Irish Open, we’re not sure you’re in the position to tease anybody for the way they dress.
FH: I killed that suit.
BS: It was shocking. I know you think that was funny but it wasn’t.
FH: I got free drinks and everything. Everybody loved it.
BS: The thing is that he craves attention and I don’t. He’s very outgoing but I don’t like having fun. I enjoy being miserable.
PL: Have you ever tried something else. Like… a job?
BS: I’ve never had a job. I’m fine with video games. But to get an audience streaming video games, you either have to be very good or very funny.
FH: I used to be a dealer. I also had a couple of other jobs, like stacking shelves in a supermarket. I worked from 16 to 21, and then I got into streaming.
PL: What are your next projects?
BS: When we’re done here in Barcelona we’ll be streaming the WCOOP.
FH: After that I’ll be at the PokerStars Festival in Dublin.
BS: And in October we’ll be at the TwitchCon in Long Beach, California, so if any of your readers will be around there, come and say hi!
PL: Thank you Ben and Fintan.