[toc]The close link between poker and esports is about to be exposed to a wider audience as Amazon Coins and Poker Central broadcast a “Worlds Collide” event on May 24.
The event pits three poker pros against three Hearthstone pros: Team Poker Central vs. Team Amazon Coins.
Team Poker Central
Team Poker Central consists of Doug “WCGRider” Polk, Maria Ho and Scott Ball.
Polk is considered to be one of, if not the, best cash game poker players in the world at the moment. He mainly plays under the screen name “WCGrider“.
The WCG stands for World Cyber Games, becausePolk was an avid eGamer before he got serious about poker.
Her team members include Aaron Paul, the actor who played Jesse Pinkman in the TV series Breaking Bad. Paul was her wild-card pick for the team, and can be seen playing his GPL matches on the Poker Central GPL live stream.
In the lineup for Team Poker Central, Ball is the wild-card. He’s no mean poker player, and in January managed a sixth place finish in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure event No. 6, a six handed, $600 buy-in event.
But Scott’s day job is being the Community Development and Poker Manager at Twitch. He is deeply embedded in the center of the relationship between poker and esports.
Team Amazon Coins
Hearthstone pros Jason “Amaz” Chan, David “Dog” Caero and Esteban “AKAWonder” Serrano fill out Team Amazon.
- Chan is the owner of Team Archon, and celebrity video streamer with a huge following on Twitch and YouTube.
- Caero is the newest member of Team Liquid whose latest in-the-money finish was a second place in the insomnia57 (Hearthstone) – Truesilver Championship. Team Liquid’s announcement this week that they are now sponsored by PokerStars means that he will get plenty of opportunity to learn more about poker.
- Serrano comes from Spain and plays for Team SK Gaming. He won the 2016 ESL Legendary Series held in Katowice, Poland. The mammoth Intel Extreme Masters, Katowice, attracted 113,000 live spectators with another 36 million viewing the events online.
The whole event will be commented on by StarCraft player Geoff “INcontrol” Robinson. Geoff is well known to esports fans not just for his playing success, but also because he has become a regular commentator on Dreamhack events broadcast from Sweden, Bucharest and Valencia.
Esports is a natural extension for Poker Central
Poker Central is a 24/7 broadcast channel devoted to all things poker. It launched in October 2015 with a fairly limited set of broadcast options.
Since then it has gradually extended its reach to the point where the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl, created and produced by Poker Central, will air on the CBS Sports Network.
The $15 million prize pool poker event attracts the biggest names in poker, who each put up $300,000 to buy in to the event. CBS will be broadcasting 30 hours of action from the tournament, which takes place at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The cross-over Worlds Collide event is a natural for Poker Central. Not only are poker pros prominent in the event, but Ho is the host of one of Poker Central’s Twitch streams.
Poker Central managed to get over two million views for its live stream of last year’s Super High Roller Bowl cash game, which ran alongside the main event. The added demographic represented by a Hearthstone audience takes Poker Central into a larger audience than it can get from poker alone.
Amazon Coins are a virtual currency for digital transactions
Amazon Coins are the Amazon version of Bitcoin, the digital crypto-currency which has become popular for use in eGaming.
Unlike Bitcoin, Amazon Coins don’t change in value — 100 coins are worth $1. Coins can be earned via in-app purchases in video games, or can be bought directly from Amazon.
Coins can be used for in-app purchases in many different games, or can be spent in the Amazon app store.
Given the big picture vision that Amazon brings to everything it does, there’s no doubt that CEO Jeff Bezos would love esports to standardize on Amazon Coins. It’s a long-term ambition, but the increasing availability of Amazon Coins shows that progress is being made.