Interview With Ryan 'rschoonbaert' Schoonbaert

Ryan rschoonbaert Schoonbaert has become one of the go-to TwitchTV poker pros for many fans of the game, the Canadian building up a large following for his unusual mixed game approach to the poker streaming world.

HighstakesDB caught up with Ryan to discuss his background in the game, his game choices, his own favourite streamers, the recent HighStakes ambassadorship and much, much more!

Q: Hi Ryan, to kick this off can you give us a brief history of you and your poker playing/twitch streaming career please?

I started playing poker when I was 18. I lived in Calgary and shortly after my 18th birthday I decided to head to the local casino to try some live poker. Despite being absolutely awful, I ran really good when I first started and that fuelled my passion for the game and I decided I wanted to pursue it full time. Over the years I transitioned from NLH to PLO cash games more and played live cash games for quite a few years.

About a year ago, I did a stream challenge with Kevin Martin where we turned the stream on and between the two of us we streamed 24 hours a day and kept the stream going for 5 days straight. That was my first introduction to Twitch, and since then I fell in love with it and decided to pursue a streaming career full time. The first year was absolutely amazing, and I am so excited for what the future holds!


Q: You are different to most of the streamers out there as you play and stream mixed games. What got you into these games and are they more profitable than NL?

I had always played a bit of PLO but there were no mixed games offered when I was playing live poker in Calgary. As soon as I started playing online, I tried out some O8, and 8-game and HORSE and fell in love with how different and dynamic each of these games were. Since there aren't too many mixed games that run, I like to play the highest value ones that do and fill the rest of my MTT schedule with some NLH games as well.

Q: Streaming mixed games must be a bit of a risk. Do you find you lose audience members or gain them by doing this?

I think there are definitely both pros and cons to streaming the mixed games. After a big host or when new people tune into my stream, if I am playing a bunch of mixed games that they aren't familiar with they definitely just find another stream that offers NLH that they actually understand so I think I do lose a bit of viewership overall.

But on the other hand, because there are so few mixed game streamers on Twitch when someone tunes in who loves mixed games I find that they keep coming back day after day and this has helped me to build such an amazing, supportive tight-knit community. So overall I definitely think that streaming mixed games has given me a great little niche in the Twitch community, and I look forward to growing the mixed game community and getting more people playing them!

Q: Who do you look up to in the Twitch poker universe? Any of them helped you/given any advice that you can share with us?

Definitely look up to a lot of the Twitch streamers. It's hard playing in front of an audience day after day and I have such insane respect for anyone who does so. That being said Jason Somerville is definitely one of the ones I look up to most. He played all the mixed games, was one of the ones who paved the way for all of Twitch Poker and transitioned that into the RunItUp team which hosts some amazing live events and has a great stream team involved now.

Also Kevin Martin is one of my very good friends, and without him and the stream challenge that we did together I would likely still be playing live cash games for a living. He helped me get set up, gave me lots of tips and tricks along the way and has been there for me throughout the entire streaming journey. I definitely owe a lot of my success in the streaming world to him and wouldn't be where I am today without all of his help.


Q: You were recently announced as a HighStakes ambassador. Can you tell me more about them and how this deal came about and what it entails?

I was originally introduced to the HighStakes site through the Online Poker League. They had some tournaments on there that I was playing, and when I explored the site a little further I fell in love. Between the promotions they run like the monthly MTT leaderboard, the high rakeback, and a great software which is a huge selling point for me as a streamer I really like everything that they had to offer.

They offer many daily and weekly freerolls, and all kinds of tournaments from the small stakes all the way up to some very high stake MTTs. Throughout the month of December when I was playing every day for the monthly leaderboard I got talking to them a bit and was able to secure an Ambassador deal which I was so excited about.

I would never want to promote a site I wasn't 100% behind, but I really love what they are doing on their site and have planned for the future. They are giving back more to the player which is the opposite of what most other sites are doing, and I hope that this helps separate them from the pack and people move more of their games over to HighStakes.

Q: What does this month have in store for you? Any key goals/aims?

With the return of the monthly MTT leaderboard on HighStakes in February, I am going to be streaming every single day. I want to improve on my 3rd place finish from December! Between the PCA and a live poker series here in Calgary, my January streams were much more sporadic so it will be nice to buckle down and be back on the stream grind every day in February. I set some ambitious goals for my stream and poker game in 2019, so I look forward to working towards all those goals and putting in a lot of hard work over the next month!

Q: What other sites do you like to play on?

Currently I am playing on HighStakes, partypoker, PokerStars and ACR. I used to play on Natural 8 as well, and might make a return to playing a little bit on there as well in the near future.

Q: partypoker have recently upped their game and are now running huge online events daily. Do you think they will ever jump over Stars? Have you moved a lot of your play there?

In terms of software and game selection I think it will be very hard for any site to surpass PokerStars. But partypoker is doing amazing things on their site, and the rakeback and promotions they are offering are definitely great for their players and I would like to move a bit more of my MTT volume over there for sure.

Q: All poker streamers seem to have merch. Will you be dropping a line soon?

While I don't have any immediate plans to come out with any merch, people in my community have been asking about some and it is definitely in the future plans to launch some sort of merch line!

Q: We heard you had a stroke of luck in a recent live event which you finished 2nd place in. Can you tell us this story and why it was quite lucky?

Yes, I wasn't even planning on playing the live $1100 tournament here in Calgary, but because my stream ran a bit shorter than expected that day I decided to last minute play this tournament. I went into the final table as one of the shortest stacks, remained one of the shortest stacks the entire time, and once we got heads up I had 600k chips to his 12m chips and he offered me $2500 of the $9500 heads-up match to chop it. So instead of $14,500 I took home $17,000 to his $21,000. Was an amazing result and I was very happy with the heads-up deal I was able to get!

Q: You just got back from the PCA... tell us all about it!

The PCA was amazing! It was my first time down in the Bahamas, and being down there during the PSPC was great. The series was run really well and there was so much to do any days I wasn't playing poker. Unfortunately, the poker results weren't great while down there, but in terms of fun and atmosphere the PCA was absolutely incredible! Will definitely be going again next year.

If you want to see Ryan in action, check out his TwitchTV channel - https://www.twitch.tv/rschoonbaert - but remember to brush up on your mixed game first!

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