These days, Vancouver, Canada is a hot bed for online poker talent. Whether it be up-and-comers or top pros that relocated to Saltwater City, the city seems to be booming with talent more than ever. One of the talented players looking to make a name for himself is 25-year-old Travis Darroch, also know as "DramaticDegen" to the online poker and streaming world.
PokerNews will be hosting a number of players who will stream sessions on the PokerNews Twitch.tv channel, and Darroch is one of those players.
Originally from a small town called Parksville, located on Vancouver Island a two-hour ferry ride away from Vancouver itself, Darroch fell in love with the game of poker after he first watched the famous movie Rounders at the young age of 13.
"Being a kid always looking for a way to make a quick buck, the idea that I could sit on my rear and make loads of money easily appealed to me," Darroch told PokerNews. "Of course, I proceeded to punt $10 a week at home games for the next five years, but there was no escaping the passion or the addiction, for better or for worse."
Poker indeed stuck with Darroch, but in 2010 it was another passion of his that caused him to take the leap and move to Vancouver.
"I moved to Vancouver to pursue my career in acting, my other passion, and go to school," Darroch said. "I made a very lackluster attempt at paying my bills through poker while studying, which obviously resulted in failure. During my studies, I met my now best friend Alex, who was paying his bills through poker. He was a huge motivator for me, by telling me to quit. He didn't think I was capable, but that just motivated me to study and improve my game. Over the next couple of years, I slowly got better and better, and now here I am. I still have a lot to learn, and I'd consider myself an intermediate at best, but the future looks bright."
Motivated to improve, Darroch stuck with poker, eventually getting into streaming his play on Twitch, which he will be doing on the the PokerNews Twitch channel. He discovered Twitch in the summer of 2015 after listening to Joe Rogan interview a professional streamer on The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan's podcast.
"After checking Twitch, I naturally gravitated towards the poker directory, where I came across Kevin Martin, Jaime and Matt Staples, Jason Somerville, Adrian Fenix, "Hristivoje," and all the other great streamers," Darroch said. "I was obsessed. Most importantly, it was something I felt like I would have a lot of fun doing myself. I had been trying different mediums of expression, looking for a way to have my voice heard. After podcasting, blogging, etc., nothing appeared to fit, but streaming seemed right up my alley. I figured I might as well try and I'm glad I did. I started streaming November 5, 2015, and I have never looked back."
As for his screen name, "DramaticDegen," Darroch said it was a combination of his passions for both poker and acting.
"Actors are dramatic, and Alex always called me a degenerate," he said. "It just seemed to click. I never thought I was a 'degen,' but he was pretty good at reminding me of reasons why — spending rent money trying to rack up a stack several months in a row, going on a 10-day Vegas trip with only $800 to play $1/$2, taking a three-day bus trip to Montreal to play $100 satellites to the Playground Card Room "Festival Main Event," being too broke to fly back, only to take another three-day bus ride home — the label holds true. I've learned the hard way to be a little more disciplined with my money. I have small lapses, but so far so good."
On his own channel, Darroch regularly streams multi-table tournaments. He started at the bottom, playing micro- and low-stakes tournaments, but now considers himself a mid-level grinder. he'll also try to satellite his way into bigger stuff like the Sunday Million and COOP events on PokerStars, and some of those shots have turned into solid runs that have not only padded his bankroll, but also helped Darroch to gain momentum with his stream.
"Every now and again I let my degen colors fly with a drunken $100 Spin & Go, or two, but I try to keep those to a minimum," he joked before getting back to a more serious discussion. "I think what makes my stream entertaining is trying to keep the quiet pauses to a minimum. I'm always talking about something. Whether it's about the current hand, interacting with the chat, or just talking about life, I always keep the stream busy. Another big factor is creating a relationship with regular viewers. People who come back to the stream on a consistent basis want to be recognized for doing so, and they deserve that attention. It's also important to show improvement in your game and go for some deep runs. If you aren't studying and trying to get better at poker, people will stop watching. In the end, viewers are there to see a streamer win money, not stagnate. I've been lucky enough to do well in poker over the last few months and that's helped a lot."
On top of all of that, Darroch said it's very important to remain genuinely yourself. Authenticity is a positive tool for any streamer, and Darroch recognizes that.
"Overall, the most important thing is to be authentic!" Darroch said with emphasis and excitement. "You don't have to tell people everything about yourself, but they tend to be drawn to genuineness. They want to feel like they could hang out with you and grab a beer. In the end, that's what streaming is — hanging out."
One of the most famous quotes out there is "choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." For Darroch, his jobs are acting and poker, both of which he loves immensely. When it comes to poker, for him playing is fun, and that's exactly why he streams. Which means that although he may be paying his bills with his play and his streaming, it's not a job to him.
"My reason for streaming is simple — it's fun!" Darroch said. "It is still just as fun as when I started five months ago, and I'll continue to stream until I no longer enjoy it, which I don't see happening in the foreseeable future."
When you turn on Darroch's stream, and we hope you do when he hops on the the PokerNews Twitch channel next on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 a.m. PT, you'll notice he's a natural in front of the camera. That's where Darroch said he acting background has helped him the most.
"I love acting of all forms," he said. "My favorite is stage acting, but any opportunity to create a unique character and be a part of a great story is what excites me. My goal now is to make streaming and poker a lifestyle, and a liveable source of income, which would give me the freedom to pursue my acting however I see fit. Instead of feeling the pressure in the audition room, or passing up on projects that don't pay, I could work on any project of my choosing. The nerves would also disappear because I wouldn't be worried about not getting the job in the audition. My background definitely helped initially with feeling comfortable in front of the camera. Acting also involves a lot of trial and error. You need to be OK with being vulnerable and sometimes you end up looking silly while trying to find the right way to convey your character. A creative and interesting stream involves trying out many different things and seeing what sticks. Some things will go incredibly well, and some will fail miserably. You get to be as proud of your failures as you are of your successes when you have the courage to try something that was not guaranteed to work."
With the vision that Darroch has for streaming, he is hopeful that it will all work out, as according to him Twitch can be the next big thing for poker, especially in regards to bringing newcomers to the game.
"I personally see Twitch being the new frontier for the next wave of poker hopefuls," he said. "The poker industry has stagnated since Black Friday, and although there is still an audience for poker on network television, it seems to have lost a lot of the excitement that it once had 10 years ago. I think we're going to continue to see Twitch poker grow exponentially as more professionals and businesses alike see the potential that Twitch can bring. We're already seeing it with Jason Sommervile, who's consistently in the top 20 overall Twitch channels whenever he streams — he can sometimes be found at the number one spot in views. The quality of content has already increased significantly since I started watching Twitch poker just eight months ago. I feel very lucky to have started my stream at the early stages of Twitch poker, and I'm incredibly excited to see where the directory is a year from now."
With people like Darroch striving to push the envelope for streaming poker on Twitch to new heights, things can only be described as being in good hands.
"Right now, my goals are to simply make a living from poker and streaming," Darroch said. "I've always wanted to be able to make a living off of something I'm passionate about. I want to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to 'work.' This is the first time I've ever had that opportunity.
"Nothing worth having is easy. You have to sometimes go head first and deal with a few cuts and bruises before you make it to the top. I'm still working on it, but I love every minute of streaming, good or bad."
Don't forget, you can catch Darroch streaming on the the PokerNews Twitch channel on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 a.m. PT.