Run It Up Ambassador, Arlie Shaban makes it through the first two of his ’12 Labours of Arlie’, and we take a look at what poker has thrown his way.
I’m in the Maestral Resort & Casino, Montenegro, and I have a plate full of rub-a-dub-dub. Sitting in the corner, bathed in the strange effervescent glow of the dying sun, is Celina Lin.
I ask if I can join her.
She puts her iPad away (a thumbs up).
We start chatting about life, and I learn that when the PokerStars Team Pro and her fiance, Randy Lew, are not playing poker, they find their entertainment in Escape Rooms.
And that’s the thought lingering in my mind after Arlie Shaban successfully navigated his way through the first two of his 12 Labours of Arlie last week.
Shaban is competing in an Escape Room of an entirely different kind, but it’s an Escape Room all the same (well, 12 to be exact).
And it’s equally as enthralling.
Who’s That Guy?
My two-year-old daughter has an embarrassing, but hilarious, thing she does in public when someone pays her attention. She takes her finger out of her nose, eats what’s on the end of it, then points it at the giant figure towering over her and says, “Who’s that guy?”
And, that’s what I said, a month ago, when looking at the Run It Up (RIU) website to learn more for a piece on Matt Staples, and I came across this hairy looking guy called Arlie Shaban.
Things are very different, today.
The world is slowly learning who he is, thanks to PokerStars.
Creating a Star
I remember sharing a house in Vegas for my first-ever World Series of Poker (WSOP) with some UK pros, who were cast-iron sure, given time, they could turn anyone into a professional poker player.
I have felt for a long time, that the online poker giants could do the same with Twitch stars. I have interviewed a few of them. None of them agrees with me. I am putting it down to cognitive dissonance. They don’t want to accept that once you get through the dip, anyone can do it. It’s the dip that’s the problem.
Arlie doesn’t have a problem with dips.
Hell, the man once streamed for 1,000 hours spread over 125 consecutive days.
But he did have a branding problem.
PokerStars has solved that in the most ingenious way.
PokerStars and RIU signed a partnership deal in July to help give streamers the platform and resources to reach Jason Somerville sized heights, and Shaban is our first look at how that can pan out.
Tomorrow, PokerStars Team Pro.
I will swim across the Nile butt naked if it doesn’t happen.
The 12 Labours of Arlie
Three weeks ago, PokerStars became Poker Gods when they interrupted Shaban’s Twitch stream to send him a challenge based on Herculean mythology.
Legend has it that the Gods set the mighty Hercules 12 challenges (labours) designed to test his strength and will. PokerStars has done the same to Shaban calling the test ‘The 12 Labours of Arlie.’
At the time of the announcement, we had no idea what the challenges would be; now we know they align with the Herculean challenges designed in the minds of the people who created him.
Two Down, Ten to Go
Labour #1: Skin the Dutch Lion
Shaban’s first challenge was to beat the Dutch Lion, Lex Veldhuis, in a series of heads-up matches.
Shaban did that.
Fortunately, for Lex lovers, his skin remained on his bones.
If you ever watched the crap film starring The Rock you know that Hercules’ first challenge was to skin the Nemean Lion.
Here’s a clip of the Shaban v Veldhuis scrap.
Labour #2: Slay the Multi-Table Beast
In Hercules’s second challenge he had to kill the Lernaean Hydra, easier said than done when each time you cut off a head two grow back.
Shaban’s challenge of a similar ilk was to beat the multi-table wizard, Lew. The brilliance in the challenge lay in the rules that stipulated that each time Shaban beat Lew, the PokerStars Team Pro would fire up a further two tables.
The challenge was intense, with Lew’s connection falling apart after he exceeded 20+ tables.
Then, with Shaban going out of his mind, salvation came in the form of the watching Ben Spragg, who reminded Shaban that in the original Hercules labour, the musclehead asked his nephew Iolaus for aid in defeating the Hydra.
Shaban gave his followers access to his tables, and they jumped on board to help him defeat a floundering nanonoko who was left trying to crack eggs without any hands.
Take a look.
I idea behind the ’12 Labours of Arlie’ is brilliant, and so far the execution matches the promise.
It’s the future of poker entertainment.
And at the same time, PokerStars is creating a star.