“There’s a huge motivation to win when you have so many people rooting for you and wishing you the best,” says Elias “SinKarma” Gutierrez, winner of the $5,200 buy-in 7-Max NLHE SCOOP-18-H event for $174,375. “It feels very good and it’s something I really appreciate.”
The people Gutierrez is referring to aren’t just his friends and family, but the 15,000+ viewers who tuned in to his Twitch channel (ZerosPoker) and watched him win his first SCOOP title live on stream.
Gutierrez, originally from Granada in Spain but now based in the UK (“The UK is great for poker, but I do miss good weather” he tells me), has been playing and crushing high stakes tournaments for some years now.
He first began taking poker seriously in 2010 and began grinding micro stakes tournaments. After only 18 months he was making a living and eventually moved to 6-Max cash games and by 2017, he’d reached the high stakes and was making YouTube content based on his play. “I realised that tournaments are more exciting for the audience,” he tells me. “At the beginning, I was mixing between tournaments and cash, but it was clear that tournaments were more popular and I enjoyed them a lot as well.”
Some high stakes cash game players who switch to streaming tournaments, such as PokerStars Ambassador Lex Veldhuis, drop down in stakes as they master tournament strategy. But Gutierrez was already well versed in the art of MTTs, having played for years at the beginning of his career. “First of all, I love Lex,” he says. “I think he’s amazing. But for me, instead of dropping down in stakes, I just studied a lot and began playing $1Ks right away. I didn’t find the transition too difficult as I’d been playing a very high level in cash games.”
He won his first WCOOP title back in 2018 in a $2,100 4-Max NLHE event, banking $124,123. Not surprising for a guy who for years cut his teeth in high stakes online 6-Max cash games, Gutierrez loves short-handed tournaments.
“It’s extremely fun playing those events against the best players,” he says. “I think my WCOOP win was the result of the work I’d put in playing cash games, whereas this SCOOP win was different. It was still kind of short-handed [the event was 7-Max] but the buy-in was bigger. I couldn’t tell you which means more to me. It would be like choosing a favourite child.”
This week’s huge score certainly came at a good time for Gutierrez. Over the past year, he’s put in a lot of work growing his communities on both YouTube and Twitch and as a result, hasn’t been playing as much as he’d like. “I was doing things that were good for my brand, my following, and good for me economically,” he says. “That’s what makes this win special to me. I really feel like I’m back.”
When Gutierrez first started producing content for YouTube around two and a half years ago, there weren’t many Spanish-speaking pros doing it. He soon built a large audience with ~70,000 YouTube Subscribers and ~60,000 Twitch followers at the time of writing. “There’s a lot more competition in the English-speaking community,” he says. “Playing high stakes and speaking Spanish, it wasn’t too difficult for me to grow.”
He currently streams around three times per week (“That’s the perfect amount where I can fully enjoy it,” he says. “Any more than that and it can feel like work”) but he always finds entertaining people and interacting with his community rewarding.
Looking to the future, Gutierrez can’t wait for live poker to return so he can give his audience an insight into the world of bricks and mortar. “I’d love to start travelling and play the EPTs and WSOPs so I can create content,” he says. “I know people will enjoy it.”