Earlier this week, PokerStars Ambassador and Twitch streamer James “OP-Poker James” Mackenzie took down the PokerStars Virtual Realty Poker Tour (VRPT) Ultra High roller–a 25 million chip buy-in VR event with a 200 million chip guarantee.
He’s now one of the only three VRPT bracelet winners in the world, virtual or otherwise.
And he did it right here at Lex Live 2 in London, surrounded by the Twitch community and the hustle and bustle of the Aspers Casino.
We had a sit down with Mackenzie on the final day of the festival to talk about his experience and the “unlimited potential” of PokerStars VR.
PokerStars Blog: Hey James, congratulations on becoming one of the first three VRPT bracelet winners. What was it like playing VR live at Lex Live?
James “OP-Poker James” Mackenzie: Thanks! The guys who were playing in the VR tournament were really happy I was playing, not because I’m a PokerStars Ambassador, but because the ambiance from the Aspers Casino was being broadcast through my microphone. They told me it felt like they were actually playing in a casino, which they really liked, so maybe that’s a feature PokerStars VR should adopt.
Are you now going to try and be the Phil Hellmuth of the VRPT?
I have to now, I’m a bracelet hunter for sure. I have a goal now, and for the VRPT I hope I can get more bracelets than anyone else. I’m going to play everything.
At OP-Poker, you guys are known for tackling the new poker formats. How big do you think PokerStars VR could get?
I think VR has near unlimited potential at the moment. I have we’re a long way off being able to play for real money, but there are so many things which you might not expect that you see in VR. The way someone handles their chips can give you information, like in live poker. If they’re looking after their chips, they’re usually more conservative. If they’re splashing about, throwing objects everywhere, you’re far more likely to be up against someone who is really aggressive.
BRANDON NGUYEN WINS SUPER SIDE | INTERVIEW WITH “GJREGGIE” | TOM “PREDATOR410” PARSONS WINS PLATINUM PASS | PLATINUM PASS WINNER PATRICK WINTERBOTTOM | BEER PONG EVENING | STREAMER SHOWDOWN | SPRAGGY WINS THE FU FLIP | ‘DAMMO_23’ INTERVIEW | WELCOME PARTY PHOTO GALLERY | POKER IN THE EARS PODCAST | HIGH ROLLERS IN TOWN | LEX LIVE ADVENTURE | MEET THE QUALIFIERS
What would you suggest to someone who wants to start playing PokerStars VR, but doesn’t know what equipment they need?
If you’re really new to VR, the Oculus Quest has just come out. It’s a standalone thing which costs around £500, I would highly recommend getting that. If you want to upgrade to the really expensive stuff, the graphics are going to be absolutely amazing. But I’d suggest if you’re new to it, the Oculus Quest is great. It’s like an Xbox, a similar price, and you have loads of games including PokerStars VR.
How has Lex Live 2 been for you overall?
At the first Lex Live we were getting to know Lex’s community. But this time, because we’re in the UK, we’ve been able to have members of our community come, and Spraggy’s, and Fintan’s, who we didn’t have in Namur. Lex Live 2 definitely feels like it has gone from being Lex’s community to an overall PokerStars Ambassador community.
Even if you’re not sponsored, it felt like if you are on Twitch, you had to be here. It’s great. You’ve seen them on stream, then you see them here, and it’s like we all know each other as we’re always chatting.
What’s next for you? Are you looking forward to getting back on Twitch?
After WCOOP, I felt I needed a break. Lex Live 2 was the break, and now I’m raring to go. I’m ready to put some decent streaming hours in, particular in 6+. I played the 6+ event here and it was awesome.
Tom “Predator410” Parsons won his Platinum Pass yesterday. He told us he won his MicroMillions title in a Fusion Poker tournament and only knew the game from watching you play it on stream. That must be pretty cool, right?
I’m really proud of Pred. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he’s a sponsored streamer too. He’s always streaming, he’s part of everyone’s community, he looks out for people. He’ll do hand history reviews at the micros with people who are new to poker, and I think at some point someone will snap him up. Now I’m going to try and get a piece of him in the PSPC 2020!
Finally, PokerStars is looking for the first-ever PokerStars VR Ambassador. Who do you think would make a great ambassador?
The VR scene has a lot more female players than live poker and online poker, so I would really suggest a female player to go for it. We definitely want more women in poker.
Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.