For the first time, Twitch Streamer of the Year is an awards category at the American Poker Awards and one of the nominees, Kevin Martin, opened the APAs as part of a panel of Twitch experts. Martin was joined by Scott Ball, who is the Global Head of Poker Partnerships for Twitch.tv and Farhan Ahmed, Poker Partnerships Manager for Twitch.tv.

Both Martin and Ball spoke to the power of Twitch in growing the game and while it is tough to say how many new players their streams are bringing to the game, they’ve each seen how the accessibility and ease of Twitch streams have introduced the game to a new market.

“It’s very accessible, it’s very live, it’s very real and it’s very authentic.” Martin said, when asked why people enjoy Twitch streams before adding, “I get Tweets, Snapchats, Instagram messages every day from people who have fallen in love with poker because they were introduced to it on Twitch.”

Introducing new players to the game is important and even if those players are starting their careers at the lowest stakes, in freerolls or home games, there is still room for those types of players to grow.

“I always try to encourage those players coming in, we need those people in our poker world.” Martin said. “For those players, Twitch isn’t just entertaining, there is also a lot of people giving out good information for them to work hard and get better.”

If you are one of those players just entering the game, regardless of the level, Martin believes that the “poker dream” is still alive.

“I feel like there is some pessimism around the community and I don’t understand it. I’m still going through my dream and I think a lot of other players are through Twitch as well.”

Martin is certainly living the dream. Two years ago, he started streaming small stakes online poker tournaments. Now, he is one of the biggest personalities in the game and is nominated for an American Poker Award.

“Twitch streamers are the new form of poker celebrities, these are the new personalities and it is exciting to be a part of it.”

To win Twitch Streamer of the Year, Martin joked on Twitter that he would have to go “runner, runner” or “perfect, perfect” to beat his Twitch counterparts. Win, lose or draw, Martin and the rest of the nominated streamers are certainly doing their part to not only grow the game of poker but also keep the dream alive.