Pedro Canali

Joe Stapleton Interview: 'For Me Poker Is a Fun Saturday'

Comedian and EPTLive co-host @Joe Stapleton has a huge following of adoring fans and many tune into PokerStars live streams as much for the poker action as for Joe’s hilarious commentary. He talked to Pedro Canali about the industry and his own experience with poker.

What do you think is the main challenge for the industry right now?

We’ve got some real challenges right now. Just keeping people interested in the game I think is a challenge that’s always going to be with us. And mainstream sponsorship - that’s a big deal, and that’s what we want to do. Before I was doing commentary I was actually on the business side of poker a little bit. When Joe Cada was in the World Series in 2009, I was with his representation team and I called a hundred companies to try and find a mainstream sponsorship but none of them wanted to have anything to do with poker. So, we need to change people’s opinions. There is no reason why poker couldn’t be like anything else you watch on television, any other competition. I don’t necessarily see poker as a sport, but as a competition and there is certainly nothing wrong with this. So that’s what we need to get out there, I think.

Did you ever play before you started doing commentary?

I played a little bit; I was your perfect poker player, the hundred dollar a week depositor. Or maybe even a hundred dollars a day if I was having a punt week, but I never really took it that seriously, I don’t really like competition, so I prefer to be on the sidelines, to be watching; I’m a joke maker, I really just want to be the guy on the side making fun of the people who are actually trying hard to compete. I don’t want to try hard myself so I’ve never really taken it seriously. For me poker is a fun Saturday. It’s not a lifestyle and even if I could be a professional player, I wouldn’t want to do it.

Do you mean generally or just in your case?

No, just in my case. No, certainly, people can make a living at poker. I mean, we see people that do it every single day. I don’t think it’s as glamorous a living as people may once have thought. I think it is very much a job, like anything else, and something you have to work hard for and not ‘easy street’ by any means. But for people that want to work hard and use their brains for a living I absolutely think that you can make a living at it.

What do you think will change in the future of the industry - formats, buy-ins, strategy? How do you see the future?

I’m not a businessman and I’m not really an expert on these things; all I can say is what I as a recreational poker player would be more interested in. I don’t know if this is the right answer or not. So, I like smaller buy-ins; I like - let’s say the UKIPT, for example. I think it's a great tour, there’s a great atmosphere, and it's a fun tournament to play, not necessarily having to invest a whole lot of money in it. If it costs 5,000 pounds or euros to enter an EPT, for me that would be a huge score. If I won 5,000 pounds in a poker tournament that would be the biggest score of my entire life, so I’m not the kind of person that’s looking to enter major tournaments, To keep me interested in poker, it would take reasonable buy-ins and a great experience for not necessarily a huge risk. I just want to have fun.

What is the role of social media in poker? You’re using Twitter a lot, right?

I use Twitter a lot, yes. I think it’s different for me than for most poker players per se, because I consider myself a comedian and Twitter is a 24-hour-a-day audience for me. So, If I have a joke that I want to tell, I could tell it to the people who are in the room with me or I could tell it to X number of followers out in the world. And because I just crave the attention of strangers all the time, it’s there for me whenever I want it.

As far as it affects poker on the whole, I don’t think we know what effects social media are going to have in general over the long term for the world, let alone in poker. So I’m not really sure where it’s going to go. It’s been interesting, obviously, with players being able to get their own live updates; being able to interact and keep in touch with each other; I think that in poker you see on a smaller scale what is happening for the rest of the world - it's just a way to keep up with things; I don’t think there’s anything more to it at the moment.

What do you think about the RankingHero project and our mission to bring the industry together?

I think that you’ve got some really smart people working on the RankingHero project. Nicolas Levi specifically is a guy that I have a lot of respect for and I think that he has some very good ideas about what should happen within the industry. He has always come across as a very level-headed, very smart guy, so I have a lot of confidence in the sorts of ideas and plans that he is putting forward. I’m not super familiar with all the ins and outs of the site because I feel that it might be something that’s more appealing to poker players, to people who are living and breathing in that world. I know it would seem that I am that kind of person myself but for the most part, when I walk out of the building for the day, I don’t really think about poker. Poker is my job and I try to leave it behind. I’m probably not your core market.

Actually, as a comedian and social media user, I think it’s the perfect tool for you. You can link your social media accounts and you can post from RankingHero directly on Twitter and Facebook. You keep up with the news and talk to people like you do on Twitter, but with a 100% poker audience.

Maybe it is the better thing for me. Actually, since I want to appear as a mainstream comedian, I don’t tweet much about poker. I tweet mostly about other things. But if this is a way for me to speak to poker people directly without clogging up my timeline with poker stuff, maybe it’s something that I should look into some more.

5 Comments Display all

Very interesting interview. And the selection of pictures gives and idea of the kind of character Joe is 

JOE IS THE MAN  i once drunkenly msgd him an woke upto a msg back saying i love you 2 hahahah TRUE STORY

Marc-Andre Ladouceur Would Take Main Event Title Over $50 Million Winning Lottery Ticket. Interview by Pedro Canali

He may have an impressive $1,601,207 in live tournament winnings and a High Roller win from EPT9 Sanremo, but @Marc-Andre Ladouceur is still after his first major victory and would not even be tempted to take a $50 million winning lottery ticket over a Main Event title! Ladouceur came close two years ago, when he fell 4 places short of making the WSOP 2012 Main Event final table; he scored his second-biggest career cash at EPT11 Barcelona in August this year, and recently cashed in EPT11 London, where he talked to Pedro Canali.


Why do you play poker?

The only reason I started to play poker was to make money. That was at first - I was working full-time, I had my own business at the time. I met someone who was playing full-time online and when I saw the potential money that could be made I wanted to see if I could do it. And there was the freedom that it gives you. So money and freedom was the first reason.

Afterwards, as I started to battle online and then live tournaments came the sense of competition, the battle against some of the top of the world, both online and live. I guess that feeling of competition and accomplishment has actually taken over the money aspect.

So right now you play more for the competition than the money?

Well, I play to make money. Definitely online I have my usual grind where I play cash games and it’s fun because I’m battling some of the toughest games but I also do it to make money. But there is something very enticing about winning titles and about, I guess, recognition among your peers. Not the public recognition per se, but to be accomplished in what you do as a poker player and be recognized among your peers.

Does this mean you would rather win the Main Event than 50 million at the lottery?

Yes, for sure. Not even close.

Do you enjoy the poker lifestyle? Are there any downsides?

I think one of the downsides, and one that I myself fell into at some point is that since you’re in full control of your schedule, I think it’s easy to get a little lazy, and to get satisfied with what you have and stop working hard for it… But I love the freedom, the fact that I can make my own schedule, that I get to travel, that I can work, more or less, the hours that I want to...

So as long as you are serious about your schedule, there’s no downside, basically?

I don’t see any personally. Maybe one - if you play poker online, you’re usually by yourself in front of a computer. I know that I myself, maybe after two years into it, felt like I was missing the interactions with everyone. It could feel a little lonely at times, so that’s why I think it’s important to surround yourself with other guys that share the same things you do but also to have a group of friends outside of poker to bring you back to the real world.

You are a PokerStars Team Pro. What does it mean to you to be an ambassador for the game and how do you connect with your fans?

First of all, it was a really big recognition for me to be signed to PokerStars Team Online. PokerStars is where I first started and I haven’t played on any other site. I remember seeing some of the members who got signed and thinking, 'Wow, what if I could some day get there', so in a way for me it came to legitimize what I do as a career. To get the recognition from PokerStars was really cool.

I’m not huge on social media, I don’t post so much on Facebook anymore. I used to post more before, partly because I was part owner of a nightclub and I was using Facebook for that extent. Most of poker-related things will be through Twitter.

Is the industry listening to players and what improvements would you like to see in the future?

I think there is a need for a players’ association, I know there’s been talk about that in the recent year. Also, the way it is now, live poker is structured around three main circuits and I think that these circuits probably need to have better cooperation between each other, at least as far as the scheduling - not to overdo it, not to enter directly in competition with each other with big events.

You mentioned that you used to have your own business. What was it?

I was running a nightclub. I was living in North Carolina back then because I went to college there and I started to play online while I had the club. It was great but I was looking to go back to Montreal and I was looking to travel, and the club was really tying me down to North Carolina. I saw that in poker I could make probably the same amount, maybe more, so I just went for it.

What do you think about the RankingHero project and the goal of bringing the industry together with a combined social network and database?

Having a huge database like that is great, and connecting players to venues, even just having social users who can interact and comment on different things is awesome. It’s very likely to be needed for the industry right now. I mean, poker needs to get mainstream, and that’s a very good step towards that goal.

Which is your favorite destination for live poker and which is your favorite casino?

I think my favorite destination is Barcelona - the beach, the whole setup, with the hotel being right next to the casino, right by the beach, right by all the restaurants, all the nightclubs.. The weather’s always great as we’re usually there in August or September.

As for favorite casino… It’s pretty hard. A lot of big poker tournaments are not necessarily in casinos, they may be in other venues or conference rooms.  I thought EPT Vienna last year was amazing. It was at the Hofburg palace - you walked in the room and you couldn’t believe that you were about to play poker, it almost felt wrong to play cards in such a beautiful and grandiose place. I I thought the setup in Deauville was really cool - the casino with the huge conference room in the back was really nice, and Barcelona, too, obviously. I went to Melbourne two years ago and that was great.

As for Vegas, my favorite casino is definitely not the Rio. Usually when I’m there I stay at Palms Place, which is great, but I usually don’t spend much time in Palms Casino and I don’t really play any casino games altogether, outside of poker. Vegas is great and there’s so much to do but casino-wise, I prefer the ones in Europe.

7 Comments Display all

I am not yet schizophrenic, but who knows... :D

That would be fun... But unfortunately I am sure that Pedro would rather take the lottery ticket and use the money to play the main event every year until the end of his life


VGG^^VGG to @Charly RKH  who won the Friday Night RKH home game!

@Elena RKH , @Ina  and @Eva Dimitrova  I count on you next Friday !


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She warmed up with us, Charly. That's why she rocked the danceflood then.

Indeed! :)))

Yes that must be that ...