His vlog may not have as many subscribers as Daniel Negreanu’s or the high-stakes action of other well-known players.
But there is one thing Matt Kiefer’s vlog does have that recently stood out in the PokerStars‘ #VloggerInParadise contest: quality. So much quality that he won the contest in early October and earned the coveted Platinum Pass.
He can’t wait to keep his story going while in the Bahamas.
The PokerStars vlog promotion became the perfect creative outlet for Kiefer.
The 36-year-old living in Indianapolis works for an information technology company in video production. He says it’s not exciting, because he works in the banking and financial sectors.
His everyman approach has made his vlog popular.
It focuses on everything from his love of poker to his neighborhood, to his 2000 Honda Civic. Kiefer said viewers like his storytelling and dry sense of humor.
Poker vlogging has given him a creative outlet he enjoys and hopes to continue. That includes low-stakes poker and his occasional trips to nearby casinos.
“I think it’s relatable because I’m a family man living in the suburbs,” he said.
Poker to vlogger
More of a recreational poker player, Kiefer began playing while in college at Ball State University. Like many, he was inspired by Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series of Poker Championship.
“Then I kind of took a break and then, three years ago, I got back into it,” he said. “I (had) a home game at my house and forgot about how much fun it was to play poker and be competitive.”
As a video guy and with a renewed interest in the game, Kiefer began following other poker vloggers.
As part of the PokerStars contest, YouTube vloggers Jeff Gross and Andrew Neeme hoped to find the best poker vlogger through a series of challenges. Participants had to produce at least five vlogs to qualify as well, and the competition was dubbed #VloggerInParadise.
“I immediately was excited because I had always wanted to start my own poker vlog anyway,” he said. “I just never had that push, so I figured this was my best shot.”
As he planned out his shows, Kiefer added elements of humor, creativity and storytelling. He hoped not only his love of US poker came out on video, but also his personality.
The big day
As the #VloggerInParadise competition progressed, the father of three kept producing videos. The promotion started with about 200 people, but competitors began dropping out the further along it went.
Some didn’t make it to five episodes and by the final episode, only about 80 remained.
“I told my friends that if I didn’t make the top five that I was going to be really disappointed,” he said. “But I just kept trying to stick to the criteria.”
The hard work paid off. In a vlog post announcing Kiefer as a winner, Gross noted this about his series: “The dry humor, creativity, cinematography, love for family, friends and fun poker – just from the beginning I thought his stuff was super special.”
Kiefer was watching as Gross announced he’d won and kept the camera rolling on his reaction to the announcement. In his own vlog from that day, he is clearly overjoyed with the outcome.
“I’m going,” the father of three said with a wide smile. He rubbed his hands together after hearing the results. “Are you kidding me?”
The next clip shows Kiefer and friends toasting a nice glass of champagne. He then calls his wife from the roof of his workplace to break the news.
“I knew it had to be you; I just knew it had to be you,” his wife said. “You were just knocking it out.”
More calls and texts to friends and family followed
“It was just pure emotion. I was just flipping it out,” Keifer said.
Kiefer said it’s still hard to believe he won.
Though he put in long hours of planning and producing the show, he finds it a bit mind-blowing winning the $30,000 package.
The Platinum Pass includes a $25,000 buy-in to the PokerStars Players Championship tournament at January’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and travel expenses.
“It was just surreal,” he said of the day.
While he’s pleased with winning, Kiefer’s also proud of his success and plans to keep the vlog going while playing at the Atlantis. Kiefer believes the quality editing and production are what sets his videos apart from others. Many times he feels more slick productions are thrown out, but that didn’t seem to be the case this time.
“Most of these poker vloggers are poker players trying to pick up a camera, and they do a good job,” he said. “But there are only a few who are good production guys.”
As Kiefer continues his productions, his sense of humor remains – even in his own poker game.
In 2018, Kiefer started a bankroll challenge to turn $1,000 into $5,000. It’s a start many players might chuckle at, but also may have been there before – he promptly lost $400 on Day 1.
The trip to the Caribbean will be more than just poker. Kiefer is turning it into a vacation, bringing his family along.
The win was thrilling, and he’s focused on producing more videos, but don’t count him out at the tables. As far as Kiefer is concerned, he feels much freer in making moves at the tables since this money isn’t his.
He took a trip to a Heartland Poker Tour event to get in more tournament practice.
“I’ve been telling people my plan is not just to sneak into the money,” he said.
“I want to go the distance. It’s hard to tell until you see the cards you’re dealt, but I don’t want to play like scared money. I want to see some hands and make some moves.”