For three hours on Thursday afternoon, several hundred players around the world gathered in Twitch chat to play poker with a world champion, a comedian, and a guy who works for Run It Up. You know, just your average home game.

Chat Plays Poker launched at noon Pacific Time yesterday on the PokerStars Twitch channel. The $1/$1 capped no-limit hold’em game featured a lineup of Chris Moneymaker, Joe Stapleton, and Jesse Fullen. Around 1,500 viewers watched, with several hundred of them voting on what actions to take through the Twitch client. All the while Run It Up mastermind Jason Somerville played host, giving Chat its options on every hand and commenting on its decisions in real time.

When we spoke with Somerville at the Run It Up House this summer, he told us he’d been looking for ways to make live streamed poker more interactive, more engaging, and more entertaining. “If you watch a lot of other live stream poker games, it’s usually stiff, often with no player audio, often with no one that understands Twitch,” Somerville told us. “We are Twitch, we live and breathe Twitch, particularly Twitch poker. So we know what the fans want.”

He ain’t lying.

The smack-talk from the other players at the table was heavy from the very beginning, especially from Moneymaker. Stapes caught an earful on the very first hand.

Chat showed it was going to play a tough game by winning the second hand with 9♥7♥. It was a sign of things to come.

Moneymaker may have been dishing out the trash talk early, but he was also shipping his chips to the other players at the table. He lost stacks to everybody else — first to Jesse, then to Joe, and most satisfying of all, to Chat.

By the time Joe Stapleton stepped into the Twitch Chat Confessional, Moneymaker was down and everybody else — chat included — was up for the session. Add several hundred dollars’ worth of donations from members of the Twitch community, and Chat was working with a big stack for the second half of the game. The blinds moved to $1/$2 and the caps for each hand were raised accordingly.

Stapes came out swinging after the break.

The sneaky plays started coming out in the second half of the game. Moneymaker couldn’t get one past Stapes and Chat let him hear about it.

Chat owned Moneymaker with a river check-raise.

Moneymaker got back some of his lost chips when he got inside Jesse’s head and made him fold the best hand.

After capping the bet on the turn and getting him to call, Chat owned Moneymaker again with an unlikely out on the river.

But the river of the final hand saved Moneymaker’s skin, winning a Bomb Pot — where everyone bet $15 blind before the flop — to salvage his session.

Moneymaker answered Chat’s questions after the game was finished.

Chat acquitted itself quite well over the three hours, turning a profit of $119 even after losing the last pot on the final card. Between that and donations more than $1,200 was raised for charity.

The atmosphere was loose and fun. Playing along with Jason Somerville was as educational as it was entertaining. Watching the three opponents interact with each other and with Chat was a unique kind of home game experience. And on top of all that, all the winnings and Chat donations went to charity.

Want to get in on some of that sweet Chat Plays Poker action yourself? The show returns to the PokerStars Twitch channel on Friday, October 4!

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Jason has covered poker since 2005. He lives in Washington state with his wife and three dogs.

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