Those of you who follow our social media accounts will no doubt have seen the occasional mention of Dan O’Callaghan, who regularly live streams his play at partypoker on Twitch. You may not know who Dan is or what he’s about, but by the time you have finished reading this Meet The People article, you will.
Dan says that he is 27-years and about 480 days old, and he lives in Hartlepool with his fiancée Rachael and their pet dog, who is apparently “the dumbest dog in the world, the kind that barks at his own farts!”
Back in 2008, Dan joined some friends in a game of poker despite not knowing the rules to the game. Then his flatmate, Matt, who was really into poker, convinced Dan to go to a university fun day that a poker site was running and he “luckboxed my way to winning a poker goody bag, which had some glossy A3 poker book in it.”
Although the book wasn’t likely to win any literary awards, it did explain the rules of poker, and some basic concepts such as continuation betting and pot odds. Armed with his new knowledge, Dan entered a £30 freezeout at his local casino and went on to take it down for a couple of hundred pounds.
Dan spent the next few years playing at the micro-stakes before starting to take the game more seriously when he won his way to a $1,000 buy-in tournament in London. It was here that Dan had his so-called lightbulb moment.
“I stayed with a couple of really good professionals and was blown away by how they spoke about the game. I realised how little I knew and, thanks to some solid advice by German pro Sascha Walet, I bought a Deuces Cracked (a poker training site) membership and began studying the game more seriously.”
After making what Dan calls “okayish money” for a while, and being apprehensive about turning professional due to Black Friday, Dan took the plunge and decided to play poker for a living, but only once his home situation was solid.
“I was making okayish money for a while before I took the plunge, but for a long time I had a couple of part time jobs that I kept as a cushion when I was a student, and again after I graduated as my girlfriend was a medical student and I wanted to help support her. When she graduated a few years ago, I had no excuses so went for it.”
A large number of partypoker players would love to follow in Dan’s footsteps and play poker for a living, but doing so has its own stresses and challenges.
“Discipline is an issue, and I’m really bad at managing my finances, too. I’d say the biggest obstacle is maintaining a good work-life balance. It is really easy to become a hermit, so I make sure that I do what I can to be as sociable as possible, and have things other than grinding going on in my life. Of course, playing is important, but one of the more glamourous things about poker is the freedom that comes with it so wasting this by being glued to a laptop screen 24/7 is just dumb on so many levels.”
One of the ways Dan keeps matters sociable is via his popular Twitch stream. Last year, Dan was signed as a sponsored pro for an online poker site, and was asked to stream some of his play. The site was subsequently bought out and the business decision taken to drop all of the site’s pros so the streaming essentially stopped. Dan was then approached by Dusk Till Dawn and with their and our support, Dan’s Twitch channel has doubled in size in only a few weeks.
“I was keen to stream too. Not only does it keeps poker social, lots of people on Twitch come from a gaming background, and that means that there’s a good chance it brings new players to the game; it’s as a fantastic way of helping the overall longevity of the game. Being in the ‘hot seat’ really forces you to play your A-game too. Making mistakes is embarrassing, so commentating on what I’m doing helps me to have a sound reason for doing it.”
Streaming his partypoker play means Dan has witnessed first-hand the changes we have made, including Pure Poker, changes that Dan believes are for the good of the game.
“I love what Partypoker are doing. I’ve talked about this a few times on stream. While other sites are increasing rake, they seem to be one of the few sites that are really prepared to invest in the poker industry. Bigger guarantees and better structures have a direct benefit to the players, and it’s refreshing to see a site operating with its customers’ ideals in mind.”
Over the next 12 months, Dan is hoping to keep building his Twitch audience and reach enough followers to become a Twitch partner, but he’s also going to be heading to Las Vegas where he’s playing four events at the 2016 World Series of Poker, and hopefully returning to the UK with a shiny gold bracelet.
If you are getting started in poker, or perhaps you have been playing for a while, Dan’s tips for you are to keep a healthy poker-life balance, keep studying because poker isn’t going to get any easier, and that higher stakes doesn’t always mean better players.