10 Hosts Set for New Run of Thirst Lounge Streaming Starting Feb. 14
Mo NuwwarahPamela Maldonado
Table Of Contents
- What is Thirst Lounge’#lunacy-begins’>’Lunacy’ Begins
- Meet the Hosts
- Matthew Forsythe
- John Gonzalez
- Voislav Ivanovski
- Justin Kelly
- Ebony Kenney
- Adam Klein
- Priestley Leng
- Kelly Minkin
- Jon Pardy
- Cat Valdes
- What to Expect
A "Survivor" champion. A "Big Brother" champion. A YouTube host with nearly 700,000 subscribers.
That’s just a sampling of the eclectic mix of people selected as the 10 guest hosts for the Thirst Lounge, Bill Perkins‘ popular streaming channel and show.
What began as a simple poker streaming channel is about to become an outlet for 10 "dynamic, young, energetic, charismatic, outrageous people" — the words of Perkins himself — to showcase their talents and cultivate a community across several…weeks? Months?
Perkins: "I want to see what they will do so i think other people will as well."
There’s no definitive endpoint planned, but Perkins hopes he’s about to help set a new standard for streaming. Thirst Lounge will become something entirely unique: a cross between "2 Months 2 Million" and "The Real World," all taking place on a boat and in exotic locales frequented by said boat.
Perkins’ yacht (pictured above) has already left port and set sail for the high seas, with streaming set to begin Thursday, Feb. 14. Before the journey began, the crew gathered in Houston for a meet-and-greet. There, PokerNews was able to get the scoop on the upcoming series of streams, the individuals hosting them and the future of the channel.
What is Thirst Lounge?
Thirst Lounge began as an experiment, according to Perkins. Streaming veteran Jeff Gross introduced him to the platform, thinking his natural charisma would play well on the platform and he might enjoy cultivating a community.
The community, in turn, wound up benefiting from Perkins’ means and generosity.
Perkins gradually evolved the channel, incorporating co-hosts like Gross, Jaime Staples and Dan Bilzerian. Streaming of online poker played a role, but it was just as much about showcasing Perkins’ lifestyle and encouraging people around the world to work hard and follow their dreams.
That’s where the name Thirst Lounge comes in — Perkins wants all of his community members to stay thirsty for bigger and better things, be they through poker or in other avenues of life.
Unfortunately for the avid followers of Perkins’ channel, as so often happens, life got in the way.
"When you create a community, they rely on you to show up and I wasn’t showing up all the time because of the demands of my life," Perkins said. "You know — kids, family, work, leisure — and people are disappointed. I don’t want to disappoint them so I decided that we needed to think bigger and bring on hosts that can maintain the channel on a regular basis."
Perkins held a contest. The goal’d entertain the masses and get shots to build bankrolls on Perkins’ dime, with the ringleader granting them $10,000 to work with on a 50/50 stake — Perkins would keep half of any profits obtained.
The hosts would get the chance to build their own personal followings while also boosting the visibility and reach of Thirst Lounge.
Gonzalez: "There was no sizing up, it was like we knew we were on this journey together and we just meshed."
After sifting through "many strong entries," Perkins and his team selected the 10 they thought best reflected the values of Thirst Lounge.
The crew gathered for the first time in Houston, in preparation for takeoff, and shenanigans ensued immediately as Jon Pardy agreed to get fellow host Kelly Minkin’s name tattooed on him for $1,000.
"There’s already lunacy going on," Perkins said. "I want to see what they will do so i think other people will as well."
John "BetOnDrew" Gonzalez said the chemistry between the crew was instantaneous.
"Going into this — nine people you don’t know — it’s scary," he said. "But immediately, we clicked. There was no sizing up, it was like we knew we were on this journey together and we just meshed."
Meet the Hosts
So, who are these 10 lucky and enterprising individuals upon whom Perkins has bestowed $10,000 bankrolls and the run of his yacht for the foreseeable future’s the rundown, alphabetically.
Forsythe, 26, said he lives out of his car and plays poker to pay his expenses while he travels the country. He called Las Vegas his home base, where he grinds $2/$5 and $5/$10. He hopes to get some tournament tips from Minkin and come out of the experience a better poker player and streamer, and he said he expects plenty of prop betting action to go down on his watch.
Gonzalez, 35, often streams small-stakes online tournament play on offshore sites. He said he’ll bump up and take some shots in bigger tournaments with the stakes. He hopes to grow his following and network with like-minded people.
Ivanovski, 27, is a small-stakes tournament player who has been trying to take the game he loves more seriously to see how successful he can be at it. He’s happy to get a chance to keep learning while traveling the world more.
"I’m already getting out of it what I want," he said. "It’s my first time to America. I got Denny’s, Taco Bell, Shake Shack, played Texas hold’em in Texas. It’s great."
Kelly, 34, is an experienced stream host with over 170 episodes under his belt on the Stones Gambling Hall stream. He aims to encourage more people to give poker a try by showing them what the game can do for their lives.
"You don’t need to be the best player in the world to have fun doing it and I really want to encourage more people to get in the game," he said.
He also owns an arcade game collection and wants to get some prop bets brewing based around them.
Kenney, 36, is a familiar face in live poker with nearly $300,000 in tournament cashes to her credit. She said she fell out of love with the game but has been reconnecting with poker and working on her game again.
"This lines up with what i want to do: get better in poker while keeping it fun and light," she said. "I want to bring everything that I love into poker. I want to help people realize that you can have dreams that don’t just involve poker."
Klein, 28, won $1 million as the champion of the 33rd season of "Survivor," in 2016. Now, he’s going to see if he can translate his strategy game experience to poker while continuing his mission to inspire and help other people. He called himself the worst player in the group but he’ll be bringing his competitive instincts and some other games to the table to keep the streaming diverse.
Leng, 33, grinds small stakes live cash and said he has zero online experience. He’s excited to create content with the help of an experienced team of editors employed by Perkins on Thirst Lounge.
The best-known and most experienced poker player in the crew — she has $1.3 million in tournament cashes — Minkin, 31, has already made her mark literally with the tattoo bet. She wants to translate some of her live experience to online poker, where she’s a relative newcomer.
"I thought this was a good opportunity for me to immerse myself with online poker, learn more, stream, and include my fans," she said.
Pardy, 28, won the second season of "Big Brother Canada." He’s been trying to get better at poker by playing online over the past year or so, but he expects his main contributions to Thirst Lounge will come away from the felt.
"I walk a little bit on the wild side and want to get that content out there," he said. "Maybe some prop bets, maybe a talk show with Adam, something with humor. I love laughing and making people laugh. That will be my goal — to be the host that is just a whole lot of fun and entertaining."
Valdes, 29, has built a massive following of just under 670,000 subscribers on YouTube over the course of her 10 years creating content. With her experience, she’s a natural fit as a host on Thirst Lounge, and she’s excited to create a new type of content after so many years producing personality, relationship and lifestyle-driven stuff.
"I really enjoy jumping into a new community, getting well connected and going 100 percent in it," she said. "I get to have fun playing poker and get to connect with an audience in a different way than I have in the past."
What to Expect
Perkins is excited to see what the team he’s put together can do for Thirst Lounge, and to see what Thirst Lounge can do for the 10 hosts he’s selected as they embark on their individual journeys with individual goals.
He expects the audience will love the diverse content when streaming starts Feb. 14.
"I think they are going to see lively, engaging, funny people playing poker, winning money, interacting with fans, explaining why they did things and also learning about these characters, in real life," he said.
In his interview with PokerNews weeks ago, Perkins hinted at some sponsorship opportunities for Thirst Lounge, and news dropped on Wednesday that partypoker has come aboard as official sponsor of the channel. As part of the deal, they’ll be matching Perkins’ $10k stake for each player.
Perkins said he’s "extremely grateful" for partypoker’s support, and he knows it’s another big step for a channel that started as a little hobby with some friends as he cruised the seas in his yacht.
Perkins: "We want to be ambassadors of poker, of aspirational living around the world."
Now, he’s got 10 aspiring channel hosts repping his brand, and he’s basically giving them free reign to do their thing and give the people all the entertainment they can handle. He hopes to build the channel into "’The Tonight Show’ of Twitch" and showcase the poker life to bigger and bigger audiences as time goes on.
Perkins hopes to stream seven days per week with at least two different hosts per day commandeering the channel. He plans to keep the show chugging along indefinitely. As long as there’s an entertaining product on the screen, expect Thirst Lounge to be broadcasting.
"I hope it expands," he said. "We want to be ambassadors of poker, of aspirational living around the world.
"So the end goal is for it not to end."
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