It was the final break of the night of Day 1A of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas, and it was time for a color-up. Over on table 332, the players started shipping their small chips to the chip leader. But they weren’t shipping them to two-time WSOP bracelet winner Michael Wang in the 9 seat. Nor were they getting change from two-time WSOP Main Event final tablist Ben Lamb in the 2 seat.
No, the chip leader at this table was Alan Keating, the fan-favorite nosebleed cash game starter, star of Hustler Casino Live’s Million Dollar Game and 24-Hour stream, and arguably one of the most popular livestream personalities of the year.
The fact that Keating is the chip leader might come as a surprise to some, it may be equally surprising that he’s even playing a tournament at all. But in catching up with Keating it’s clear, he’s just here for a bit of fun.
“I have a bunch of friends that are playing so we all kinda got together with a last longer and making a thing out of it, going to dinner together…stuff like that,” Keating said.
It’s been a wild year for Keating who has emerged as a newsmaker in poker and a headliner that will take a livestream to the next level. You don’t need to convince Ryan Feldman and Nick Vertucci of Hustler Casino Live of that fact, as the showrunners have gone out of their way to bring Keating to the forefront whenever he clears his schedule to spend time mixing it up on stream. However, despite the star treatment, Keating rebuffs the notion that he’s more than just another player. In fact, he brushes off any notion of poker celebrity.
“I’m definitely not a celebrity in my mind,” Keating said. “I’m just having fun with my friends, kinda getting out there gambling. I’ve been gambling for a long time so it’s not out of the ordinary. But I’m enjoying getting out there and having fun with friends.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the support. When the “chat pros” tune in to see him fire away and play his brand of no-holds-barred poker, as a poker fan himself, he feels it.
“I love it, I get excited about it. You know I go into the chat sometimes when I’m watching different streams. It’s just a really fun thing to do on the viewing side so to be on the other side, I’m doing a little bit of it for [the fans]. I definitely feel the warmth from people that enjoy watching me play.”
It would be natural to think that with several major cash Games livestreams in Las Vegas this week, including a $300/600 game hosted by the World Poker Tour , he would be interested in getting in the mix. Prior obligations are keeping him busy this week but, that’s not the same for Garret Adelstein, the high-stakes crusher who is making his return after 15 months away from the game following one of the most infamous hands in poker history. Keating, who has had occasion to play with Adelstein, took a moment to share his general sentiment on the return of Adelstein to the high-stakes scene.
“I do have thoughts on it, I mean just from a human-to-human perspective I think Garrett’s a wonderful player and it seems like he’s in his element when he’s playing poker,” he said. “So human-to-human I just want people to do what they’re best at and what they really enjoy. So I’m happy to see him back out there and playing.”
Who knows, perhaps Keating and Adelstein will cross paths in the future but for now, Keating is seemingly having some fun with the task at hand – making a run at the $40 million guaranteed prize pool of the WPT World Championship. It may seem antithetical to have a splashy player like Keating grinding a multi-day tournament, but with a last longer on the line (which he wouldn’t comment on, but it’s Keating and his pals, let your mind run wild) he’s doing his best to deny his nature.
“I kind of feel like a phony because I have to play a style that isn’t me…otherwise I get my head taken off,” he laughed. “I’m kind of just paying attention to how other people are playing and reverse engineering how I should be playing. That clearly means playing less hands.
“Who knows,” he added. “Maybe I’ll win this thing.”