Kevin Martin knows what it’s like to be under pressure – and not just at the poker table. The 27-year-old poker pro is a two-time competitor on the Canadian version of Big Brother – winning in 2017 for $100,000 and a new car.
“I could write a full book on this,” he says laughing about his time on the reality show. “It was intense – the most rewarding and difficult experience I’ve ever encountered. I say the mental game of poker is easy compared to Big Brother.”
The native of Calgary, Alberta, now has another interesting bullet point to his resumé. Martin is the first member of GGPoker’s new GGSquad stream team. He looks forward to a fun new page in his media and poker life.
“My role at GGPoker is to continue making the best poker shows possible while also bringing that extra level of community relations,” he says, “continuing to make poker more accessible and enjoyable to the common player.”
Big Brother and a life at the poker table
The new role with GGPoker comes after a life of making lofty goals. As a teenager, those included getting cast on and then winning Big Brother.
“It is surreal I accomplished it,” he says. “There were no other poker players, just a bunch of wild, beautiful people.”
Before his score in reality television, the poker table was his daily reality. He got into the game in 2014, playing live and devouring all the basic strategy content he could.
Martin loves the mano a mano nature of the game – flipping the odds in his favor. After getting into the game, he believed success would head his way if he continued to apply himself.
After three months, Martin quit his job in radio to pursue his new passion full time. So far that’s worked out well. He has more than $300,000 in live tournament earnings as well as additional online winnings. Letting his family know about his new career wasn’t easy.
“I come from a conservative religious family so the original response was quite poor,” he says. “It didn’t deter me though, I knew what I was capable of.
“Thankfully after some of the success I’ve had, they’ve come around to it. They always support me. I’m sure if I made a call to my mom and told her I’m going to change my career to something else she would be happy deep down.”
A Twitch poker original
When Twitch launched in 2011, the platform was meant for video gaming. In fact, it was against the terms of service to stream poker until 2015.
“As soon as that changed my friend Jaime Staples predicted it would be huge and encouraged me to get involved,” Martin says.
Streaming has now become a growing poker trend and that’s included significantly growing numbers during the Coronavirus pandemic. But just five years ago it was a completely new phenomenon for the game.
Martin jumped on board and began betting and bluffing in this new media realm. He became one of the first people to use the platform. What sets his stream apart from others?
“I’ve been told my stream is relatable,” he says. “People feel it’s a good atmosphere and that I present a nice relaxed and enjoyable presence.
“I appreciate the kind words I am just out here trying to make the best shows possible while also winning some money”
Streaming the WSOP at GGPoker
A rapport with viewers and building an audience is important for any streamer. Martin must have succeeded and GGPoker came calling after he took a break from content creation in 2019.
Then the World Series of Poker Online brought him back to the action.
“For the first time ever the WSOP was going to be an online event due to the pandemic and I had a sense of how epic the series was going to be,” he says.
“John Scanlon [GG director of live events and sponsorships] got in touch because they liked the stuff I was making. We collaborated through the whole WSOP and put on some amazing streams. I consider it the best stuff I have made in the last five years.”
The WSOP streaming partnership went so well that his role was recently made official. He’s now a brand ambassador as part of the GGSquad streaming team.
“GGPoker really has exploded this past year,” Martin says, “and it’s a fresh and exciting brand to work with.”
Super Saturdays with the GG team
Martin becomes a key part of the site’s content creation team. The GGSquad’s primary role is to engage and entertain GG fans and the wider poker community. That includes showcasing the brand with plenty of fun in mind.
GG’s new “Saturday Session” becomes a big part of that. Saturdays now feature a major site programming block on Twitch. Poker fans will find streams like:
- Beat the Pros – Players who knock out Team GG pros Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and others earn a seat in a $5,000 freeroll.
- GGMasters Last Longer – Players can jump in the $25 GGMasters Daily and also earn a $210 Beat the Pros ticket.
- GGStaker – Viewers will be awarded five $210 Beat the Pros tickets.
- #SquadSession – GG players can jump in the low-stakes cash games with members of the GGSquad.
Other GGSquad founding members include: Michael “Easterdamnz” Van Elsacker; Torsten “Jektiss” Brinkman; Patrick “IrEgption” Tardif; Koray “KakiTee” Turker; and Fernando “JNandezPoker” Habegger.
“I’m thrilled to welcome both Kevin and the five other founding team members to GGSquad,” Scanlon says. “These players are some of the most exciting around, and engaging with our community each week during our Saturday Sessions, they will make GGPoker an even more fun place to play poker.”
New online poker boom, growing the game
It’s been a huge year for online poker and GGPoker has certainly been a big part of that. Martin hopes the current environment gets even more people interested in poker. He’s hoping his own streaming efforts can also help that trend.
“It’s great to see more people get into the game,” Martin says. “I’ve always believed that poker content plays a big part. Having fun personalities stream poker and make YouTube videos really does bring in a lot of people.”
Online poker operators need to keep adapting, Martin says. He believes GGPoker is doing that and one of the reasons he’s been such a fan of the company.
“They’ve added so many new features and fun elements this past year,” he says. “I’ve never seen a poker company improve their product faster.”
When not streaming, Martin enjoys working out. His girlfriend is a personal trainer, he’s been getting into weightlifting more. He’s also obsessed with golf, but the recent Calgary snowfall has curtailed that for now.
Always a goal setter, he hopes to break 80 but has come up just short so far. While Martin’s time in the tee box may be on hold for a while, look for him right back streaming on GG soon. Pleased with his new role, Martin hopes to be a big part of GG’s expanded move into Twitch streaming.
“Life is good,” he says. “I am a very blessed individual and I’m excited for what the future holds. Come hang out with me on Twitch; we always have a good time.”