We have all heard of, and probably watched, “HighStakes Poker” on GSN on Monday nights; the game where the world’s best players put up at least $100,000 of their own money in one of the most exciting games ever. Well, recently Erik Fast and Zack Messer have brought us an entertaining cash game with the same premise, only this time it’s called LowStakes. So far, there has been two LowStakes episodes on YouTube.com, with more to come, and they definitely do not lack in entertainment and poker value. Given today’s lack of exciting poker news on google and my great enjoyment of LowStakes, I figured I would interview the creators of the new YouTube poker gem.
STHollywood: So who’s idea was LowStakes?
ZM: Well me and Erik used to always watch “HighStakes” together because it was our favorite show on television, mainly because we are poker fanatics and loved the idea of a cash game being televised.
STHollywood: So you decided to do your own version?
ZM: Erik being the film major came to me with the idea that we should film our own poker cash game with the same premise but a low stakes version.
STHollywood: Erik, how did you come up with the idea and why did you want to create LowStakes?
EF: As someone whose wanted to be involved in media and truly obsessed poker player,working for a show like GSN’s “HighStakes Poker” or the WPT has always been a dream. I just wondered what it would take.
STHollywood: How much is the buy-in?
ZM: The buy in is 60 to 100 dollars with .25/50 cent blinds.
STHollywood: And how much of it is currently on YouTube?
ZM: There are currently two ten-minute parts of an episode.
STHollywood: Were you guys surprised at the number of people who watched it and commented about how much they liked it?
ZM: It was a great feeling, I think the most surprising thing was seeing how many people from around the world had watched it, from Portugal to Australia to Bhutan.
EF: Yeah, I never thought anybody else would care. But, just for the hell of it, I posted it to YouTube, and it got a thousand views in about a week, not viral by any means, but I mean, people from all over the world spent 20 minutes watching a 0.25-.50 cent NL game… it shows you how hungry people are for poker content.
STHollywood: Yeah poker is blowing up right now. There was a guy whose YouTube handle is tbonejuju who said “Nice commentary for those of us trying to understand the dynamics of the game (and who don’t have cable!). I’ll go low stakes any time. Thanks! “. Would you agree LowStakes has educational value for a beginning player?
ZM: I definitely do, I feel that Erik and I give good commentary as to why people played their hands certain way and I look forward to doing more commentary in the next episodes to come. It’s exciting because the action really heats up in the next few episodes.
EF: In some weird way it might serve a little bit of the same purpose as a low stakes Cardrunners video… just by giving examples of very low stakes play that isn’t necessarily elementary. It seems like it could help expand the game of players who have gotten past only playing Group A hands, but who are not quite ready to risk a couple hundred playing 2-5 NL.
STHollywood: Others on YouTube like katmanboss commented “that hand with AA was so a script…”, do you guys set anything up for entertainment value or is it shown like it’s played?
EF: No…we didn’t change anything for entertainment value, because we didn’t think anybody else would be watching. Even the commentary we did first time around was mostly just to see if we could. I understand why people are suspicious… having three people take a flop and all of them make at least two pair seems pretty ridiculous.. but that’s poker. Anything that can happen, eventually will happen. Also, if the hand in question was rigged, why would the best hand fold? The player who flopped top set made a very tight fold on the turn, do you really think he would agree to make that fold if he knew what was going on? Once he found out he had the best hand from me while I edited, his first response was jokingly, “please don’t show it!”
ZM: We definitely want to clarify to everyone who has seen the videos that we never scripted any of the hands. The last hand was pretty insane with [Matthew] Freese folding top two on the flop and Brad [Ross] folding a set of aces on the turn. People can laugh at Brad for folding there but he has the last laugh (winning the 100 with rebuys on Pokerstars for 40,000).
STHollywood: Wow, so you guys aren’t just trashy friday-night-game-with-the-boys players? Does everyone at the LowStakes table take poker as a serious part of their lives?
ZM: I think that was one of the great things about the game we put together. We had a mix of players, some who take the game very seriously like myself, Brad, and Erik, and others who treat it more as a hobby like Hampden. Overall, everyone who played in our game is very competitive.
EF: Are we serious? Yes and no. For the past 5 years some incarnation of this group of players has played together roughly 10 to 15 hours a week. Many of us have are also small winners at low stakes NL and limit cash games at The Bike and local Indian casino Morongo. I mean, with the exception of Brad [Ross], nobody’s making five figures, but we do all take poker very seriously. I think for many of us, we treat the buy-in in our home cash game like it was a $300 on a 1-2 table… we aren’t just shipping it with top pair (unless that game was at the bike, then we very well might stack off with top pair, and be right to do so).
STHollywood: Zack, you said you, Erik [Fast] and Brad [Ross] take poker more seriously, do you have any plans for poker in the future?
ZM: I’ve come to realize over the last year how much I love the game and I’ve been pretty successful at it. So it looks like this summer I will be moving to Vegas to play poker professionally. I’m excited to go out and do something I love, even if it is a little taboo. If I get felted in Vegas, at least I know I tried, and if I do even better in Vegas than more power to myself.
STHollywood: That’s awesome, good for you. How has playing in LowStakes and other games with these players in the East LA Poker Series influenced that decision and your game?
ZM: Over the last four years I kept playing in our regular college game where I was the biggest winner. I think the fact that I kept constantly winning and was having such a great time doing it became a catalyst for me to try and play full time. Now playing in a home game and playing in a casino are two different things, but I learned to love the game playing with these same group of people over the years at the low stakes level.
STHollywood: Hopefully, we’ll be watching you in the HighStakes game some day soon.
ZM: Thanks, I hope so to.
STHollywood: And Erik, how do you see your poker future?
EF: When I started playing 3-6 limit in my small hometown of Yakima, WA, I had no idea where my new obsession would take me. I was lucky enough to land a job at Cardplayer covering the World Series of Poker in 2006 and 2007. It was pretty sick, and though the dumber interns got us nailed on the forums for sucking at our jobs, it was overall a sick experience. I got to meet all the pros and tons of celebrities. I played with Shannon Elizabeth, I carried $40k in rebuy chips over to John Juanda for Erick Lindgren during the rebuy tournament, I got off work and went to play all night in the sick low buy-in Venetian tournaments…basically it was the best job ever. Being so close to poker I was able to learn how hard it is to be a pro. As the old saying goes, its the hardest way to make an easy living. The majority of my meager winnings come from donk stakes limit…so it’s hard to say if I could do anything more in poker. So far I have been to under-rolled to try, but with a steady job now I’m thinking about moving up to low stakes, as opposed to the micro I’m used to now.
STHollywood: And how do you see the future of LowStakes?
EF: Ive got two more hours of footage from the original shoot. If people keep watching, I’m ready to try to get my hands on some nicer equipment and get started on LowStakes Poker Season 2. Look for a teaser trailer up on YouTube soon for the upcoming episodes!
STHollywood: That sounds great. Well, LowStakes is awesome so good job and thanks for the interview.
EF: Wicked…thanks for the bigup.
So, if you can’t get enough poker entertainment and want some real low stakes cash game action, check out LowStakes Poker on YouTube. It’s an up and coming YouTube hit.