The Hendon Mob website recently added the option for players to include their twitter feed on their database entry. This presents in interesting quandary for players: to add it or not?
On the one hand, most tweeters – especially sponsored pros who are charged with marketing their site as much as possible – do hanker after more followers, and anything that’s likely to up the count is a bonus. On the other hand, players are understandably guarded about giving away too much information in the game (just try getting a screen name out of a pro when you’re sat with them live).
Most pros who make day 2 of a tournament know that they have a bit of homework to do that morning before the cards are in the air. Last year, I got an early phone call from Black Belt pro Jamie Burland because one of the players on his table had a couple of cashes in Unibet Opens. Figuring I might have played with him, Jamie just wanted to check if I had any ideas about his play. While that level of dedication may seem excessive to you, ask yourself this: how many times have you found yourself in a tricky spot early in a tournament and thought – if only I had a few reads on this guy I’d be more inclined to make a certain move?
Of course, this cuts both ways. This summer I made a day 2 of a Venetian Deepstack event but unfortunately couldn’t read my table draw on the Venetian Facebook page, so did without. The guy to my right was Ryan Spittles – an English pro who I did not know.
I couldn’t learn anything prior to starting the game, so I had to make do with the good old fashioned wisdom of “he’s a pro, don’t bother trying too much on until you get a decent handle on him.” On my bustout hand, when I got up, he said to me “you’re Pickleman Poker aren’t you?” Turns out the table draw could be downloaded from Facebook and was then easily readable, so he had done his homework on me. When I checked my twitter I saw I had a new follower – Ryan Spittles.
As it happens, I rarely if ever tweet about hands during tournaments. I prefer to concentrate on watching the play and trying to get reads than being glued to my iPhone. Nevertheless, if I do have the twitter name of a guy on my table, I’m snap following him just in case, and Hendon Mob have just made that a lot easier.
Most players these days know better than to be tweeting “can’t believe I just bluffed the guy in seat 3 off his top pair – such a nit” but that’s not to say that extra information can’t be garnered. If one of your opponents is tweeting “3bet iso table fish w/79cc. Flop AcJ9 he chk I cbet he call” . . . etc. you know he’s played this game before. But there are other reasons to be circumspect in one’s tweeting in live tournaments.
In Vegas this year Sam Rasavi tweeted to his 2000 or so followers about what a bunch of clowns he had at his table, only to find out that three of those followers were among said clowns. Oops.
Maybe the auto-following of those on one’s tournament table will become so standard that we can look forward to tweets aimed at “levelling” opponents in the future. For now, I guess the rule of thumb is to keep schtum.
It’s also worth discussing how much one can profit from studying a table draw on Hendon Mob in the first place. I was recently asked to look up a poker player’s credentials by a (non-poker playing) friend who wanted to know whether they were genuine or not. His HM didn’t boast much: just one cash in a UKIPT. However, his Pocket Fives page showed a triple crown, a former top 100 ranking and over $1M in online earnings.
Most players are aware that the hoodie in seat 6 might still be a fearsome pro even if his live earnings aren’t up to much. Conversely, a long HM results page might not indicate a skilful player, merely a long history on the circuit (I shall not name and shame, but I’m sure you can think of a few).
That’s not to say that doing the homework isn’t worth it. Half way through day 1 of the Unibet Open Prague this year, a player with a mountain of chips sat to my left. When I heard him speaking French I licked my lips. That is, until I looked him up on HM and found a list as long as my arm including some big wins in some big events. Like I say, not a guarantee of a money making player, but still, not the droid I was looking for.
I think the safest bet in this regard is to find a player who has a few results in, say, $30-$200 buy ins, but who is playing in a $1k or above event. He’ll likely be backed or have satellited in and will be being all the more cautious as a result.
I also think there’s quite a significant difference between the older guy on day 2 who has a string of results and the one who has absolutely nothing on his HM. The latter is almost certainly a recreational player who has got to day 2 nut peddling a bunch of decent hands. If, however, his HM shows that he’s been around the block a few times, it’s much more likely in my opinion that he can show you a bluff or otherwise get out of line.
In conclusion, I think the extra work studying table draws on Hendon Mob is worth it, and it can’t be any harm to follow their twitter feeds at the same time. Any extra information is a bonus. Whether to add one’s twitter feed to HM? I haven’t made up my mind yet, but if you do, don’t forget to check your recent followers at the start of a day to see if anyone on your table is spying on you!