YouTube has quickly emerged as one of the more popular mediums to consume poker content. Andrew Neeme has just as quickly grown to become one of the more popular poker YouTubers on the web.
Neeme, a Las Vegas based professional poker player, started a vlog about four months ago, chronicling his journeys as a mid and high-stakes professional poker player. In that time span, his channel continued to grow and now has over 40,000 subscribers.
By filming his mostly $2/$5 and $5/$10 No Limit Hold’em sessions, the Michigan State graduate tries to give the viewer a first person point of view into his experience at the table by filming his actual cards and chips. It was a tactic that helped grow his audience, but also got him in some hot water with some of the bigger Las Vegas casinos that he frequents.
“The Bellagio room had an alert on my player’s card,” said Neeme. “When I clocked in, the floor staff would be notified. So, I had been sitting for about 30 minutes in a $5/$10 game when one of the managers came over and asked to have a chat about the filming.”
“He had seen the vlog and thought it was cool, and a positive in terms of promoting the game, but they just aren’t sure how to handle it yet. The poker room managers get it. Three of them specifically told me that it’s a net positive and great for the game and really dig the content. But the decision about whether to allow filming of the action doesn’t come from that level. It comes from higher up.”
In newer episodes, Neeme moved away from filming at the actual table and instead films himself going over hands in a different location. The change in style hasn’t slowed his channel’s popularity, though. When he travels to California and plays in other card rooms, he films at the table without being challenged by management and he still provides insight into the hands that he plays.
In the long run, however, Neeme thinks the Bellagio and others will change their stance on his filming.
“Their stance will change,” said Neeme. “But it won’t be their idea or their invite. It will be when they see another smaller room doing something successfully, with the value clearly outweighing any perceived risks.”
Aside from filming the action and providing insight, Neeme’s videography skills are above what most other vloggers are capable of. It’s no surprise that he drew inspiration for his own vlog from one of the most popular vlogs ever put on YouTube.
“There’s a pretty obvious influence from Casey Neistat in my vlogs,” said Neeme. Neistat is a YouTube personality who has turned his vlog there into mainstream success. “I haven’t really watched too many other vloggers and especially not regularly. The formula that he created for his content was too perfect that it’s hard for me not to try and mimic. Obviously, he’s not a poker player, so I was able to add that aspect to the videos in my own manner. But the lifestyle presentation draws from his influence of videography.”
Neeme is new to the YouTube scene, but he is no stranger to the poker table. Neeme has been playing poker on a professional level for the last eight years. Those eight years as a professional left him wanting more fulfillment out of his life, which is what led him down the road of this vlog.
“Poker can be pretty rigid,” he said. “You’re often grinding by yourself and for yourself, and it’s just that – a grind. You stick to your game plan and a decision tree sort of predetermined rules and expect to end the day with more money than when you left your house. Rinse and repeat.”
In an effort to find some creativity in his life and get away from the grind, he started on his venture to film his own personal roller coaster as a pro. The decision to create the vlogs weren’t completely selfish. He wanted to fill a void in the way he felt poker was being communicated to the masses.
“I felt like the way poker was being marketed to a mass audience was a little lacking,” said Neeme. “We have the big MTT event coverage like the WSOP and the WPT, which is exciting, and mostly well-done. And we still have nosebleed cash games and the Super High Roller Bowl from PokerCentral. But it’s also pretty far removed from the everyday experience of the vast majority of poker players in the world.
“The question becomes whether creating some sort of production based around $1/$2 to $5/$10 grinding is interesting. Well, I think as long as you’re telling a good story with a good production quality, you can make just about anything interesting. Especially when it’s a topic that so many people already take interest in.”
The storytelling aspect is where Neeme differs from some other prominent poker YouTube channels. He tells a story that more players can relate to, while Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu’s channel tend to be more focused on strategy.
“I’m more of your everyman poker player who’s made some progress, but is still trying to make it in poker and in life,” said Neeme. “[I’m] bringing the audience along with me and maybe we’ll all learn something together. And document the journey in hopefully an entertaining fashion.”