Ethan Yau wanted to make it on YouTube. The tricky part was finding the right content to dive into. Golf and video game channels didn’t stick. Then he tried poker.
Yau’s on-felt persona ‘Rampage’ entered the poker sphere in 2018 with a $1/$2 session at Bally’s Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The video features Yau, post-session, recapping hands from his bedroom. It’s a far cry from the streamlined, high-quality content he puts out now, but it was the start of a remarkable journey.
Yau’s most recent video on the channel shows a $25/$50/$50 session on the livestream at The Lodge Card Club in Austin, Texas.
There’s a stark contrast between the two, both in the presentation of the content and the money Yau puts on the table. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, and with over 650 videos under his belt, Yau has become a master of the poker vlog.
From the low-stakes grind to the nosebleed, high-roller arena, Yau’s ascension in both poker and content creation has come hard and fast.
Poker and YouTube–a winning combo
While Yau’s channel grew, his poker knowledge, skill, and experience grew alongside it. “I would never have gotten so deep into poker if it wasn’t for YouTube,” Yau tells PokerOrg. “I started poker when I started YouTube, and I would never have played bigger, or jumped up in stakes, or gotten as serious if people didn’t watch the channel.”
Yau’s YouTube channel exploded in the post-COVID era, and as the live poker streets re-opened, opportunities arose. Yau’s draw, in terms of sheer eyeballs, earned him invitations to all the most popular livestream cash games–Hustler Casino Live, The Lodge Card Club, LIVE! At The Bike. The abundance of both live and online tournament series gave Yau a chance to highlight a different side of his gameplay, one that he quickly found success in.
The success brought waves of new viewers to the channel (he’s up to 269,000 subscribers now), while also ensuring the retention of the early followers–now invested and along for the ride. The growth placed Yau firmly on the map of poker’s rising stars. The accolades arrived in no time at all, as Yau earned not one but two Global Poker Awards for his efforts in 2022.
Yau won Best Vlogger and Fans Choice: Poker Personality awards at the 2022 Global Poker Awards
Yau’s momentum caught the attention of Tom Wheaton’s marketing and talent agency Above the Felt. Wheaton moved quickly to add Yau to the company’s already impressive roster of talented poker players and content creators over the summer of 2022. The timing worked perfectly as just months later Yau secured a career-high score of $894,240 with victory in the WPT $25k High Roller at last year’s WPT World Championship festival. The story of Yau’s epic win would become one of the highlights of Above the Felt’s Dreamers documentary.
Yau recalls, “It was wonderful. I’ve told the story a few times now. I was on dinner break right before late registration ended with two friends and I was like, ‘Hey I think I’m gonna degen this, do you want a sweat?’ And they both said no. I get to rub it in their faces forever.”
Partnership with WPT
In April of 2023, Yau inked a deal with WPT Global to represent the platform as their first dedicated online poker content and brand ambassador. The partnership came in the wake of the WPT’s signings of Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme, fellow master poker vloggers.
As Yau puts it, “WPT Global came onto my radar a little bit after Brad and Andrew signed with WPT. They contacted my agent, Tom, about the Global side, the online side. I was super attracted to it because it’s a brand new platform and there was more opportunity to grow and have more of a hands-on experience. To kind of be on the same team as Brad and Andrew is really cool because they’re the two people that inspired me to do what I do now.”
WPT Global is the online-facing arm of the World Poker Tour brand and offers players in over 100 countries access to real money poker games and exclusive satellite into live events, including the upcoming WPT World Championship. “They’re doing a lot to send people to Vegas this year,” Yau tells us, “from ClubWPT and WPT Global, it’s great, all of it.”
After Yau’s big score last year, he’s excited to head out to Vegas this December. “It’s what I look forward to now at the end of the year. It’s at the Wynn, which is such a nice venue. The tournaments are going to be great, they’re going to be big. I’m infinitely more excited for this than the WSOP in the summer, for sure.”
“At the Wynn you feel like a guest”, Yau continues. “You’re being treated well, you’re in a very nice establishment, the tournaments are well run, the dealers are always really good. You just get to enjoy the experience. I’m looking forward to it. Also, I’m still in the red for tournaments. Last year the $25k bailed me out and I’d love for that to happen again this year.”
The WPT World Championship Festival offers up an action-packed slate of events for players to compete in. Yau, not one to shy away from any form of competition, hopes to play a robust tournament schedule.
“I’m there to fire,” Yau says. “I think I’m going to play my first $50k and I recently tweeted out a genuine inquiry about trying to play the [Big One for One Drop] million-dollar tournament. The door is open, but I mainly just wanted to see if I could raise $900k for one single tournament as someone who has never played higher than a $25k before.”
For Yau, however, the tournaments aren’t the sole focus of his trip. “I prefer to mix things up. I can’t just do all tournaments for a month. You start going crazy and get sad because you lose all the time.” There are high-stakes livestream cash games on the schedule as well and Yau aims to play these as well.
In fact, Yau has pitched a huge piece of action on StakeKings, with a massive total budget of $6,000,000. He’s aiming to sell just over a third of this before the games kick off in December. It’s a far cry from his early days of grinding and the dizzying figures have raised the eyebrows of high-stakes regulars such as Rob Yong.
That’s some pressure 🥶— Rob Yong (@rob_yong_) November 13, 2023
Yau’s next target
Having already accomplished so much in poker and in such a short time, the only question that remains is: what’s next? Yau tends not to set any concrete poker goals, but there’s one that’s been on his mind: “I really want to get in the all-time top ten [on Hendon Mob] in Massachusetts.”
Yau is hoping for another big score at the WPT World Championship festival after his $894,240 win last year
That might sound like a relatively easy goal to achieve. Until you look at the list.
Currently, Yau sits at 22nd on the list, with $2,194,661 in earnings. The top ten players on the list are all crushers and, importantly, most of them are still playing. Nick Petrangelo, Anthony Zinno, Jonathan Jaffe, Brian Altman, Jesse Sylvia, Matthew Wantman, to name a few. These players continue to compete at the highest levels and, barring an across-the-board downswing, Yau’s faced with an uphill battle in his quest to dethrone one of them.
Petrangelo is top with $32,263,907, ahead of Daniel Colman on $28,925,059. Curt Kohlberg is tenth with $3,572,011.
As things stand now, Yau needs to add roughly $1,500,000 to his earnings to break into the Top 10. If he manages to pull off a repeat of last year’s performance at the WPT World Championship, he could be very close to breaking into the exclusive club.
Watch the whole interview with Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau below.
The WPT World Championship festival runs from November 29 to December 23, with the flagship event starting December 12. The Big One for One Drop runs December 18-20. High-stakes cash games play on December 9 and 10, with the Million Dollar Cash Game on December 15. The WPT is livestreaming 14 days of coverage, including high-stakes cash games on December 9 and 10, and the Million Dollar Cash Game on December 15.
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