How Two Bloggers Made Poker Fun Again

I’ve always been a “fan” of poker. But, it has been years since the last time I watched poker on TV. When in my early 20’s, the World Series of Poker and other poker related TV shows were always in my rotation. Then, life happened. I got a job, online poker became pretty much illegal and getting together with friends for a card game became infrequent. Poker became something that I enjoyed on occasion, but it was no longer a passion. As life wore on, I began to find televised poker boring. That is until this year. Enter Barstool Nate and Smitty.

This blog is weird to write. Not because we consider Barstool a competitor or anything. They’re on a level that no other blog or new media has ever achieved. To say they are in a class of their own wouldn’t be putting it adequately. They’re in a class they invented. But, still… it’s kind of feels weird to write a blog about another blogger. Moves like this generally only happen when there is beef or a feud of some sort. That being said, I’m admittedly an old school Stoolie. So, I’m trying my hardest to make sure this blog doesn’t sound fan-boyish.

I’d like to personally thank Nate and Smitty from Barstool Sports for making poker fun again. I’ve enjoyed following those two on twitter the last few days and tuning into ESPN to watch the World Series of Poker each night. Why? Because even though watching poker is fun, the story lines aren’t generally that intriguing. Barstool has managed to develop a storyline around Barstool Nate and Smitty, specifically Nate, that has us all sucked in.

A brief background: Smitty and Nate from Barstool have a long standing “rivalry” within the Barstool storyline. They both also have a history of playing online poker. In fact, they’re the people that got me back into actually playing poker. While my mates didn’t play, I was able to play games online and would say anyone interested in poker should do this. If you’re not in the US then you can learn how to unblock PokerStars here. Remember to gamble responsibly and when the fun stops, stop. Anway, a few weeks ago, the two faced off in a poker game to win an entry and a trip to the World Series of Poker. Nate won. Smitty lost. However, upon arriving in Vegas, also decided to stake Smitty’s entry into the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Fun Fact: Jonathan Bales, the owner of and my college roommate were childhood friends. Back in like 2006, I designed an advertisement for his first ever Fantasy Football business venture. From the few times that we’ve met, he seems like a good dude and I’m stoked to see all the success he’s having with Fantasy Labs. This was also an incredibly sharp marketing move on his part.

Fast forward to the World Series of Poker main event and Nate is the chip leader in his group after day 1. Twitter is a going wild, the Barstool faithful are engaged, is getting a ton of publicity and the Barstool guys are actually holding their own.

This is where the story gets wild. A disagreement between Barstool Nate and Dave Portnoy (the owner of BSS) erupts over who would get to keep the money if Nate were to win. If you’d like to follow along and catch up, I’d suggest visiting or following any of these guys on twitter.

What’s my point? Barstool has been able to bring in a heap of new viewers to the World Series of Poker this year. Every poker streaming service, television time slot and blog that is featuring stories on Nate and Smitty has seen an increase in traffic. How did they do this? By developing a story line and making people invested in the players. There are people watching poker this week that don’t care about cards, they only care about the players. They’re either #GoPresGo guys that are watching to see Nate fail, Spider Monkey guys that want to see Barstool Nate succeed or guys like me that just enjoy the story lines that have evolved within the Barstool universe.

Thanks for making poker fun again.

It looks like Smitty has been eliminated.

#GoNateGot – We’re with ya, Barstool Nate.