Ethan “Rampage” Yau Talks About His YouTube Origins and Playing Poker for a Million Dollars

  • Yau started out as a poker vlogger on YouTube five years ago
  • The first time he played live, he immediately lost his $500 stake
  • Despite his success, he still doesn’t think he’s a very good poker player
  • This week, Yau is a star player in HCL’s “Million Dollar Game”
Ethan Yau on Hustler Casino Live
Ethan “Rampage” Yau spoke with VegasSlotsOnline News about his poker vlogging career and meteoric rise in cash game stakes. [Image: / Hustler Casino Live]

Rampage by name…

As play wraps up on Hustler Casino Live’s (HCL) “Million Dollar Game,” one of the emergent heroes of the five days of nose bleed-stakes poker has been Ethan “Rampage” Yau. Yau has become one of HCL’s regulars, converting his success as a poker vlogger into a seat on one of poker’s most watched streams.

He has won a WPT High Roller, two WSOP Circuit rings (one online, one live), finished as the runner up in two more ring events, and had a +$500k session on the HCL stream, and that’s just in the last 14 months.

What’s most impressive about Yau’s rampage to the top has been its speed. Five years ago, he posted a video to his channel titled “CASHING MY BIGGEST WIN! | Poker Vlog #3.” The win in question was $515.

I had a call with Yau ahead of him putting up his first million-dollar buy-in to see how things had changed for this rising star.

Starting out

“I got into poker in college,” Ethan told me, calling from his car as he sat parked in a charging station.

“I was playing sports betting and blackjack at the time. Just getting into the whole gambling world. A classmate said he played poker and wanted a buddy to drive an hour and a half to the nearest 18-plus casino. He was teaching me as we drove—how the button worked, that you tip the dealer every single hand.

I just sat there the rest of the session and watched YouTube videos about poker”

“I went in, lost my $500 buy-in in 15 minutes. So I just sat there the rest of the session and watched YouTube videos about poker. I learned about the whole vlogging space.”

Yau had been trying to make it as a YouTuber for a while, starting out with Call of Duty montages as a 13 year old.

“Through college and COVID I tried and failed on maybe 20 different YouTube channels,” he explained. “So it was funny that poker was the one that worked out. I just wouldn’t have thought a small niche like poker would work out, something I knew nothing about.”

Raising stakes, rising standards

Yau remains humble about his poker skills, even as he prepares for a game in which Tony G, Tom Dwan, and Doug Polk are all scheduled to play.

The more I keep playing the worse I think I am.”

“I still don’t think I’m good at the game,” Yau said when I asked him about this. “The more I keep playing the worse I think I am. Especially when I get introduced to actual good players.

“In college, I was super overconfident playing $1/$2 stakes and I was beating the local player pool. I thought I was really good because I was making more than [at] my on campus job at the time. Now I know I was just horrible, punting in all kinds of spots. I think that was the only time I really felt like I was good at poker.”

Playtika, PlayWSOP, and the Thrill Team

PlayWSOP is a free-to-play poker app. In partnership with Playtika, it has put together a set of sponsored pros for the World Series of Poker called the WSOP Thrill Team. Yau made the cut, a member of a team that includes great players like Vanessa Selbst and Patrik Antonius.

“It’s cool to be part of the team with six other really upstanding, high-quality big names in poker,” Yau said. “Pretty surreal to call them peers. You know Patrik Antonius—huge crusher, everyone knows him—and we’re on the same team!”

Yau described himself as “immediately interested when I saw that email come through. PlayWSOP was the first time I played poker. I downloaded the free-to-play app the week before the first time I went to play poker with my friend. […] I got hooked on it for that whole week.”

The million-dollar (game) question

A lot of Yau’s recent exposure has come from Hustler Casino Live. I asked him about his relationship with the show and his recent half-million-dollar session.

Hustler Casino Live has been fun,” he said. “It’s nice to take a big shot and have it work out.”

“Historically, the first time I take a shot like that I’ve been whacked. […] I see it as a steppingstone. Every single big win, you parlay that into higher stakes. Like playing the upcoming ‘Million Dollar Game.’ A half-million dollar win will help with that a bit.”

In the first episode of the stream, Yau pulled off an incredible $618,000 bluff to win a pot worth more than $1m. It certainly looks like Ethan Yau is on a rampage.

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