Innovative streamer Tom ‘Majincast’ Hayward on his breakout Sunday Million victory

August 06, 2021inPoker

Tom ‘Majincast’ Hayward takes down the Sunday Million live on his Twitch stream in front of thousands of viewers. That second his family and friends–from every stage of his life–rush into the room to congratulate him. He checks his PokerStars bankroll again and again and each time the number has increased. There are cute puppies everywhere and his favourite band in the world is suddenly setting up to play a private gig in his living room. It’s perfect. Dreamlike.

Then he wakes up.

For years, Hayward has been having this dream. “It was always the Sunday Million too,” the PokerStars Team Pro tells me on a call from his home in New Zealand. “It was never a WCOOP event or another random tournament. We get so involved in the game that it just becomes ingrained in our psyche. The Sunday Million is this mythical beast that I felt I had to crack.”

A couple of days ago, Hayward woke up from a familiar dream and checked his PokerStars bankroll. This time, the amount he’d won was still there.

This time, it wasn’t a dream. On Monday, August 2nd, he conquered the beast and 26,651 total entries to win the 50/50 Series Half-Price $50 Sunday Million for $53K ($41K for first plus $12K in bounties).

“To actually overcome it, it kind of doesn’t feel real,” he says. “Even if I’d won it for $10K, or something less impactful, it would still feel just as insane to me.”

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Hayward began playing poker in his teens with friends before dabbling online once he’d come of age. He played everything under the sun–cash games, tournaments, sit & gos–and admits he was essentially a “fun player forever”. “It’s not a very exciting story,” he says.

Things certainly got exciting once he began streaming his play, though. If you’ve never seen Hayward on Twitch–where he plays under the name Majincast (‘Majinboob’ on PokerStars)–you’ll see him do things that no other poker streamer is doing, from dropping instant soundbites reflecting the poker action to cutting away to scenes of the Joe Rogan Experience or Judge Judy with his face inserted, all done in real-time, mid-poker session.

Lex Veldhuis has called him one of the most innovative streamers on Twitch. “It’s crazy,” says Hayward. “Lex is an absolute G, so down to earth. It’s cool.”

Joe Rogan interviews Majincast during his stream

But how did the ideas for his stream come about?

“I went to university to study music, then I bounced around between jobs–I installed glass panels for a while–and I was stuck in a bit of a rut,” he says. “I completely scrapped the music and was just doing labouring work, trying to keep on the right path mentally.”

Eventually, Hayward decided to go back to school to study animation and production. “It was a lot of media stuff, graphic design, film study,” he says. “That all built up into a combination of skills that eventually led towards the stream that you see today.”

PokerStars saw the potential in what Hayward was doing and signed him to Team Pro in August 2019. “That’s what really kicked my arse into gear,” he says. “I revamped everything and made it super presentable. Before that, everything was just an idea really. I was finding my way. But when PokerStars recognised what I was doing, it made me realise that I can take it further. I’m always trying to tweak and improve things.”

Tom Hayward at Lex Live 2 (October 2019)

That included his poker results. Hayward has steadily risen up from the low stakes to regularly beat mid-stakes MTTs, but where his fellow Team Pros had enjoyed impressive scores (Arlie Shaban’s Blowout Series title, Fintan Hand’s SCOOP titles, etc.) Hayward was still seeking that big breakout result.

“I was definitely feeling a little bit of that angst myself,” he admits. “It’s obviously great to see the boys picking up big ones and stuff, but it does make you wonder when your time’s going to come. So for it to come in this fashion–a Sunday Million win–it just blows me away. I never really expected this to happen.”

He had a hunch, though, once he made Day 2 of the Milly. Hayward didn’t stream Day 1 (“I played offline and chipped away in a bunch of tourneys”) but he had a good session and finished in 56th place with 132 players remaining.

“At the start of Day 2, for whatever reason, I was convinced in my mind that I was going to bink it,” he says. “So every single little hit along the way, I knew it was all good as it was eventually going to culminate in a victory. It was really just some psychopathic stuff really going on.”

Hayward had almost had similar spots in the past. “I bubbled a Day 2 of a WCOOP 2020 event in quite rough fashion and I remember feeling down about it,” he says. “I felt like a lot of potential for the stream was ripped away.”

But on this occasion, everything went according to plan. His hunch was correct. “It was great to really capitalise on that potential as there were a lot of people watching,” he says. “I think it was my largest stream in terms of organic viewers.”

Since his victory, Hayward has enjoyed an outpouring of support. “It’s been insane,” he says. “So many people have messaged me and congratulated me and said that they think I deserve it because they’ve been watching the stream for years, and they’ve seen me brick off tournament after tournament.”

This win–along with his signing with PokerStars two years ago–has also helped validate his chosen career path among family and friends. “Getting into poker is one thing, but getting into streaming as well…there’s just so much up in the air,” he says. “It’s a big gamble, so to have it come to fruition in this way, it’s a friggin’ dream, to be honest. I’m still pinching myself. It doesn’t feel real.”

After years of dreaming, this time, it is.

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