Just about a year ago, James “jaimestaples” Staples became a ´Friend of PokerStars´ and burst onto the poker scene. The fresh-faced poker professional from Alberta, Canada, has become one of poker’s most popular Twitch streamers within a very short time. His incredible drive and passion for the game as well as willingness to give back to the community has brought him much success and a huge legion of fans.
Since signing his sponsorship deal, Jaime’s Twitch channel has grown from around 4,800 to over 56,000 followers. Later in 2015, he gained “Team Online” status and joined the EPT live circuit. I caught up with Jaime at the recent EPT Prague festival to find out a bit more about his Twitch experience, dreams, and goals for the future.
How are you? This is your first time in Europe; first time in Prague. How do you like it so far?
A lot of firsts this trip!
It´s been so much fun. The city is absolutely beautiful. The EPT is best live tournament I have ever played. It is simply so organized and clean and tidy. I´m having a great time playing so far. We are through the first 12 levels of the tournament, so, we are getting towards the end of Day 2. My stack is around 30 thousand. Nothing huge, but you know, there is time; this is a good structure. Hopefully, I will continue building it up.
What experience do you have on the live circuit? What tournaments have you played so far?
I played the World Series of Poker Main Event and a couple of side events; maybe six or seven. In terms of big live tournaments, I don’t have a ton of experience. I have played a lot of live cash games, sort of coming up in poker, but not too much on the circuit. This is a new thing for me. (Ed. note: Since EPT Prague, Jaime has also played at the PCA and EPT Dublin.)
How many years have you been playing poker?
I´ve been playing poker for six years, I´ve only been a pro for one year. I started playing online when I was eighteen and half or so. I began with freerolls, building my way up.
I spoke with Jake Cody earlier. He actually started from very little and it worked, as he never had to deposit again. How did it work for you? How much was your initial investment in poker?
It was three $100 deposits for me. When I first got into the game, I didn’t treat it very seriously. I treated it like the recreational player. I didn’t know what bankroll management was. I would just play whatever I wanted to play; then I just learned over time. I said: OK, I want to be successful at this, I need to manage my bankroll. So, the third $100 deposit stuck and everything else came from there.
I noticed you tweeted about visiting Old Town Square here in Prague; specifically you watched the Astronomical Clock. What else did you see?
I haven’t had time to do full tour yet. I did go through the Old Town. I did the bus tour, which was amazing. These are long days here at the tournament. I haven’t had enough time to check out all the spots. I´m looking forward to finding some local pubs. People say exciting things about that. I´ve not seen much more than what I shared on Twitter so far.
Prague Christmas market hype #twitch #EPT #poker #travel pic.twitter.com/DFmc9JtUSe
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) January 23, 2016
Do you remember your first ever live poker game?
I do! I was so nervous – walking in for the first time. I think it is kind of intimidating if you´ve never played before, when you see the houseman, usually a secluded room and you don’t really know how it works. I remember being really afraid. Then I sat down and I realized these are just regular people and I was probably better than them already at that point – it was a $1/2 game. So, I do remember being scared, but really loving it after maybe 30 minutes of getting used to it.
What brought to you to the Twitch platform? Did you play other online games before?
I started streaming on October 25th, 2014. It coincided with me dropping out of school and deciding on playing full time as a poker professional. When I did that, I realized I wanted to be part of the poker industry. This is what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to give back to the game. It perfectly coincided with it, launching and me having the opportunity: this is it, I can do this. I saw Jason Somerville´s stream and said to myself: OK, I´ll try it out. I´ve never streamed anything before on Twitch, and I´ve never been on Twitch before. Recently, I started playing other games just for fun on there, to see what that’s like. I watch a bunch of other games; CS: GO (Counter Strike: Global Offensive) is one of them.
The first experience for me on Twitch was poker.
You helped Daniel Negreanu to set up his Twitch channel, right?
Yes, that is true.
This made you look like you are some kind of special IT wizard. How did this happen? Are you more technically literate?
No, no, I am not!
Daniel tweeted something like “I´m trying to set up Twitch”, and one of the people that follows me tweeted back to Daniel: Hey, ask Jaime. So, he did message me, I got him on Skype and I set him up. But I don’t really know what I’m doing. I´ve never been a broadcaster before. I´m not great with computers. I just took him through the basics and he was very kind to tweet out “this wizkid is helping me to set up Twitch”. But, you know, I don’t know if I earned that title. I didn’t do anything special for him. This was my introduction to Daniel Negreanu – setting up his Twitch channel.
@RealKidPoker Pinching myself! Thanks for doing what you do Daniel. I have looked up to you since the start.
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) December 14, 2015
This year, you signed an official sponsorship deal with PokerStars. What do you think made them approach you?
I was very surprised that it happened at the time it did. It had always been a dream of mine to be sponsored by PokerStars, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon – on April 1st, 2015. It was just six months after I launched my stream. It was really crazy. There is a reason they thought we would be good fit together.
There is this new community on Twitch – it makes poker fun and exciting, something that maybe has not been the focus of poker for a while. So, I think they see that as really valuable and saw me speaking for eight hours a day and probably expected that I would be able to represent their site as Team Online – which is the status I´ve just achieved.
Where does Jamie Staples come from? Tell us a bit about your background.
My parents are both teachers. May dad was a professor – he just retired recently and my mom is a high school teacher; both in music. I´d say fairly academic background. For me, I did go to college and university. I took some business classes and eventually ended up in a lot of philosophy classes. I enjoyed it but it was really just a place holder for what I knew I wanted to do – which was this. It took me a long time to gather the confidence to take the path that I was supposed to take, not the easy road.
Did you have a dream job as a kid? What did you want to become?
I wanted to be a professional golfer. The same approach I take to poker I took to golf. I was obsessed with it. I set up my school schedules so I got off at noon and then I could go play all afternoon – usually two rounds on a course a day. I´ve always been that way. I find something that I´m passionate about and I try to become as good as I can at it. There was a lot to that growing up.
I remember, as a kid, I would get on these things that I really liked: Once I really liked biking for a couple of months. I would ride up and down our street for two hours – literally, just our street. I was into Space Jam when I was six or seven, and I would watch it twice a day. I was like: Find something and go for it!
You mentioned you loved golf and approached it the same way you now do poker. Can you pinpoint any similarities between golf and poker?
I think the main similarity is that the mental game is a huge part of both of them. That´s the biggest crossover I see in there. On the golf course, you´re out there for four hours and you are, hopefully, making around 70 shots, if you’re really good. That´s a lot of time to think about what you are doing right or wrong. I took a lot of from golf and applied it to my poker game. The two are very similar in terms of how you should approach them, namely, not being results oriented. You need to focus on the input, not the outcome.
How do you prepare for streaming on Twitch?
It comes fairly natural to me now. I wake up and I do sort of a work grind before I start streaming. Then, I have my coffee and just talk to people, like you talk to anyone. After that, there is more work grind. It is really nothing too special – just waking up in the morning.
Streaming some poker live on @Twitch Come hang! #HouseofCards https://t.co/NaXQT6rC4H pic.twitter.com/0Bo0KSyDrd
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) March 2, 2016
Let´s say I´m a recreational player and I want to learn more about poker, but I feel a bit intimidated by the whole thing. Why should I tune in to watch you?
Right! I give people a brutally honest look at what my life is like as a professional poker player. I´m trying to help them through some of the things they´re going to experience the first times playing, and I share in where I’m going and the struggles that I´m going through and what I´m trying to level up to as well. It is actual reality of what my life is and I think it is more engaging as opposed to the produced reality you find on TV.
When you fully brick a Sunday tournament schedule #poker #pokergifs #twitch #twitchpoker pic.twitter.com/LL38V3QWrh
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) February 5, 2016
Part of your work is to help people to improve their poker game. What helps you improve your own game?
It has changed over the time. Now, the most useful in terms of money and time spent is doing simulations. Using tools like ICMizer. When you are not playing and you´re studying, you can plug in hands and simulate: I raise this, and they go all-in with this range of hands, what should I call… That is not a tool that will be particularly useful if you don’t know what ´range of hands´ means, but as you progress more, those are the most effective ways of getting better.
Outside poker, what else are you into? Do you still play golf?
Not much. I played like two rounds this year.
I enjoy arts, movies, music, and books, but I as you can probably tell, I´m kind of one track person. People keep talking about balance and how it is important, and I just don’t know if that´s me. What makes me feel good in life is working towards the goal and achieving it. That´s what I spend as many hours as I can on.
I follow you on Twitch and every time you go live I get an email. That happens almost every day. Watch out, PokerStaples is live! How often do you stream?
I stream six days a week. The work around streaming takes a lot of time. You stream for eight hours and then there is around five hours a day of other stuff that goes into it. Running a YouTube channel for example and doing social media type stuff; that is what’s happening behind the scenes when I´m not on the air – the mornings, the evenings and on the seventh day.
Well, you’re obviously very busy in the day-to-day grind. To end off, tell us a little about what your goals are on the live poker circuit? What are your dreams and expectations?
I´d love to win an EPT event and I´d love to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. It is really hard to set that specific goal. Results are variable. I´m trying to focus on what I can control, which is the input. So, I´m working hard. But it is definitely a dream – winning a bracelet, winning an EPT event, even winning a Sunday major, SCOOP event, WCOOP event. That is what I´m working towards now.
Just hit 3,000,000 views on Twitch. I owe it all to you all. You improve my life everyday and I’m grateful #twitchfamily
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) March 4, 2016