Somerville — a pro with nearly $4 million in live tournament earnings — is a pioneer for poker players using Twitch to broadcast their online poker sessions and interact with other players. He has more than 50,000 followers on the site.
Until recently, Twitch had been mostly used for streaming video-game play. But a story in the Wall Street Journal this week made it clear that poker is an area of huge possible growth for Twitch. (Check out our Users’ Guide to Poker on Twitch).
The signing of Somerville represents a new tack for PokerStars, which clearly intends to expand its reach through Somerville and Twitch. Two other PokerStars pros: Randy “nanonoko” Lew and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier recently began streaming regularly on Twitch, and a PokerStars Twitch channel is now live. Recently, PokerStars had been shedding some of its pros, and Somerville is the first truly major pro sponsorship deal for the site in some time.
PokerStars Head of Pro & Celebrity Marketing Kirsty Thompson had this to say about Somerville’s signing:
“Jason is a unique proposition – a poker pioneer who has had great success both online and live, and brings something different to the table through the way in which he has built a popular live streaming poker show. I’m sure he will be a great ambassador for PokerStars and help to increase the level of interactivity between the brand and its players.”
In the announcement, Somerville noted that he would be streaming his play live on Sunday, bringing back his popular Run it UP! series. Somerville had been hinting on his Twitter feed that he would be able to play “significant poker tournaments all day, every day” in the near future. That obviously foreshadowed his signing by PokerStars and a move outside of the United States so that he could play on PokerStars regularly.
Somerville — a former pro for the now defunct Ultimate Poker — has more than $6 million in earnings across live and online tourney play in his career, with World Series of Poker and Spring Championship of Online Poker titles to his credit.
Formerly playing under the screenname Taknapotin, he will now play as jcarverpoker at PokerStars.
Somerville is also up for an American Poker Award — for Poker Media Content of the Year — at a ceremony in Los Angeles tonight.
On Twitter: @DustinGouker.