Tyler Blevins, more commonly known as "Ninja," is already one of the most famous professional gamers of all time, so don't be surprised if he adds poker to his gaming arsenal.
Ninja, who just weeks ago became a star in the poker world after an appearance on the now-legendary influencer edition of the Hustler Casino Live stream, is an upcoming guest on Dan “jungleman” Cates' Winning the Game of Life podcast, where the two will discuss Ninja's appearance on the Hustler stream and his plans to dive further into the world of poker.
PokerNews got the chance to listen to the episode, titled "Fortnite Ace to Poker: A Rise to the Top and Reaching for More," before its launch on all major streaming platforms on Saturday, May 21 at 9 a.m. EST. Here is some of what you can expect from Cates' hour-long interview with the pro-gamer-turned-poker-star.
From Halo to High Stakes
Ninja, who got his start in gaming by playing Halo 3 professionally as a teenager before becoming a Fortnite star, became an overnight sensation in the poker world earlier this month when he appeared on a now-legendary Hustler Casino Live stream featuring other content creators like Jimmy "MrBeast" Donaldson, Alexandra Botez and Ludwig Ahgren, as well as poker icons Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan.
One of many highlights of the stream was Ninja getting all-in with pocket sevens to be in bad shape against the pocket jacks of Hellmuth. Hellmuth flopped a set to have Ninja drawing nearly dead, but the runout put a straight on the board to have the two chop the pot and leave "The Poker Brat" speechless.
Since his appearance on the Hustler stream, Ninja told Cates he has been "obsessed with poker."
"I had so much fun," Ninja said during his podcast appearance. "Just straight addicted, almost immediately.”
Shortly after going on the Hustler stream, Ninja said he took a shot in a much smaller event, a $220 buy-in tournament at his local casino. Even though it was his first time playing in a tournament format, the veteran streamer made the final table and locked up a fifth-place finish, a result he called "invigorating."
"I was playing f***ing phenomenal," said Ninja. "I didn’t have a single bad beat. That’s how I know I’m having a great day or I’m just playing really good poker is I don’t have any bad beats (or put bad beats on anyone). I’m not calling something on the turn or river (with hands in bad shape)."
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Future in Poker?
Despite having a full-time career as a gamer and Twitch streamer, Ninja said he is finding time to study poker with his brother-in-law and is even picking up on the lingo of the game.
“For the first like two or three days, I’m like ‘what the f*** does 'range' mean?’" Ninja laughed. “I’m starting to accumulate the minimal knowledge to be able to now use my gaming talents and actually be able to perform really well (in poker).”
He also said he's learned a thing or two from Hellmuth.
“I’ve been watching so many of his heads-ups," Ninja said, including his heated High Stakes Duel III match against trash-talker Eric Persson, who Ninja noted “got under his (Hellmuth's) skin so bad.”
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to stay level-headed, and that’s what I’m going to try to do," he said.
Ninja said he looks forward to playing more private and celebrity poker games in the future. Recently, Jason Koon invited Ninja to play at the Triton Super High Roller Series in Madrid, though the streamer couldn't make the trip.
@Ninja I’ll fly you and your brother-in-law to Madrid right now, back your bags and tell the fam you guys will be back in 2 weeks!— Jason Koon (@JasonKoon)
“I think it’d be cool if you get involved into poker," Cates told Ninja. "You’d be able to play a lot of private sorts of things that would be good for you if you handled those situations right.”
While Ninja acknowledged that getting into poker had "not (been) in the cards," he also said that he has a newfound love for the game and may even make poker a part of his brand.
"I’m reaching so many new eyes and, again, I’m genuinely loving it," he said.
Cates' interview with Ninja can be heard on Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms when it airs on May 21.
Cates recently appeared on the PokerNews Podcast, where he talked with Chad Holloway about launching his new podcast. That interview can be viewed below.
*Images courtesy of Sarah Goddard PR
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