When PokerStars Canada ambassador Arlie Shaban decided he wanted to stream his play, just setting up a Twitch channel wouldn’t do. The poker player from Toronto, Ontario, sought to make a real splash. He figured to really build an audience, pulling off a major accomplishment might create some buzz.
Shaban has an obsessive personality and says he’d studied Twitch poker for years before even launching his own channel. He wanted to learn what viewers liked most and that seemed to be some kind of challenge.
So when the time came to start his own channel in November 2017, Shaban settled on a streaming 50 days in a row for an average of eight hours a day. He also had some extra plans behind the scenes.
“Guys, you think I’m actually going to stop on day 50?” he said during the stream when the 50th day finally came. “I’m just getting warmed up. We’re going to go for 100 days.”
That still wasn’t enough. When the 100th day rolled around, Shaban announced he wanted to finish at a nice round number of 1,000 hours streamed. That meant he finally wrapped up the challenge after 125 straight days of streaming.
“That really set me apart from everyone,” he says.
The natural question someone might ask is: how did Shaban have so much time to accomplish the challenge?
“I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone and locked myself in an apartment to become a full time poker player, because I have that tenacity that other people don’t have,” he says. “It was worth the sacrifice.”
Shaban is now part of Team PokerStars and was still alive on Day 3 of the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Players Championship (PSPC). He spoke with PokerScout about the event, streaming, and recent online poker changes in Canada.
From ‘Big Brother’ to online poker streaming
Fans of reality television in Canada may remember Shaban from Big Brother Canada in 2014. Fellow poker pro Kevin Martin appeared on the show the following season and the two met and became friends.
Shaban had played poker for a long time, but knew Martin was much better. Seven years ago, an inquiry into Martin’s playing habits turned things around for Shaban. That ultimately led to a career at the table and in poker content creation.
“I played millions of hands of poker as a recreational player and just asked him, ‘How are you so good? I’ve played more hands of poker than you, but you’re way better than me,’” he remembers of the conversation. “And he was like, ‘Well what are you doing off the felt to improve your game?’
“He just taught me what a training program was for poker. I went onto a training program for the first time and I just obsessed over it. It was like taking a course in university for poker. That’s how I looked at it. And that one year of studying really hard turned me into a full time player.”
That came with his complete launch into Twitch streaming as well. The transition has been great so far, he says, and the platform is perfect for his personality. When behind the microphone, viewers can expect plenty of jokes and laughs with poker mixed in.
“I don’t mind being behind the camera,” he says. “I’m an extrovert. I like the idea of trying to entertain or create content.”
Embracing online poker changes in Ontario
AS Canadian player in Ontario, Shaban has seen the province transition from a wide open online poker market to a ringed-in environment as seen in some American states.
That presented some real changes to his daily poker grind and life as a streamer. However, Shaban’s taken the change in stride and has actually found some positives to that approach.
— Arlie Shaban (@ArlieShaban) February 1, 2023
“ I didn’t know what it was going to be like obviously going into it,” he says. “I was super scared and thought I might have to move out of Ontario. But it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. All the top pros from around the world are gone out of my field now.
“And the fields are much smaller, guarantees are smaller, prize pools are smaller, but (I’ve had) a lot more consistent wins.”
Streaming has also benefited from the changes as well. He may have lost a few global viewers, but seen a surge of Ontario Twitch users check out his channel. Finding more success because of a smaller market has also helped.
“With so many more final table appearances and first places because of the smaller fields, that just draws in extra crowds once you get to the final table,” he says. “So even though I’m not playing for as much on top, it’s still pretty exciting for the viewers.”
At the PSPC, Shaban returned for Day 2 and was among the chip leaders early in the day.
“It’s an amazing event,” he says. “The structure is perfect. I love this 12 o’clock start time and I don’t know how I did it, but I bagged eighth in chips yesterday.”
Can Shaban’s self-described “obsessive personality” pay off in the Bahamas as it did with the streaming challenge? That remains to be seen, but this former reality show contestant is hoping for another big appearance.