A visit to globalpokerindex.com defines the GPI as “a ranking of the live tournament poker players in the world as of the day it is published.” But what happens when there’s no longer any live tournament poker being played?
That question, perhaps once thought incomprehensible, has become an unfortunate reality. The live poker scene worldwide has essentially been shuttered down for the long haul, awaiting the COVID-19 virus to run its course and hopefully cause as little damage as possible. Casinos have closed, tournament series have been postponed or cancelled, and we’re all just playing the waiting game, hoping for good news to arrive sooner than later.
We’ve profiled some of the more prominent members of The Hendon Mob team in the past (the folks behind the GPI) and have in the process learned what their day-to-day workload is like. A constant inbound stream of data and results from live poker events the world over gives plenty enough work to keep the entire team busy. Once that stream runs dry, however, one might wonder what the team is up to.
We reached out to GPI/The Hendon Mob President Eric Danis and Head of Partnerships Roland Boothby to find out more about what the folks behind poker’s largest live database do while the live poker world has gone into hibernation.
You’re all just coming off having run the Global Poker Awards ceremony in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. This was right around the time the COVID-19 was beginning its aggressive spread around the world. Was everyone on the team able to make it home and resume their regular work without issue?
I’m pleased to say that the whole team made it home safely and no one has shown any signs of illness since returning home from the awards. We’re also not aware of anyone who attended the awards falling ill which is especially pleasing. Whilst we spent the week in Vegas working closely with each other and the fantastic team at the PokerGO studio, fortunately there was enough known about Coronavirus at the time for simple precautions to have been taken from all sides, and to our knowledge those precautions appear to have worked out.
Live tournament series cancellations started happening right around that time, if I’m not mistaken. What was the reaction your team had as that trickle slowly but surely turned into a full-fledged stream?
As the first few tournaments series began to be cancelled, details of the severity of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide were beginning to emerge. It became apparent very quickly that a complete shut down of live tournament poker was inevitable. Everyone who works in or plays live poker is acutely aware of the issues live poker presents in the context of a pandemic: player proximity, the passing of chips, the redistributing of cards. We knew what was coming and offered our full support to our venue partners in delisting their events and offering them any other support we could.
A longtime staple of The Hendon Mob homepage, the “Tournament Spotlight” feature, is now strikingly (but understandably) bare, with less than half a dozen scheduled poker events still listed. Besides removing cancelled events, were there any other on-site or off-site adjustments the GPI had to make?
Indeed, it’s fair to say that the Tournament Spotlight section has been decimated by cancellations, and it’s not clear at this stage when live poker will return. At the start of the year we had 22 events in this section, and we were struggling to accommodate demand for inclusion. We will be staying in touch with our live event partners to establish the viability of events in coming months, and hopefully we will see events building up here before too long. In terms of adjustments, we’ve had to create dialogue with all our advertisers to establish how to proceed in the absence of live events. Naturally, this will differ from partner to partner. We’ve been delighted to see some live series moving online, including our live event partners the Irish Open, whose online Irish Open series will feature the online Hendon Mob Championship on April 7th. It’s been very encouraging to see operators adapting to the new climate in which we find ourselves.
How about your current workload? I imagine there’s likely some residual work left in terms of processing results from concluded events, but there’s no longer any new information coming in. How and with what is each member of the team staying busy at the moment?
We’ve certainly seen a drop off in our traditional workload, but now and in the weeks to come we’ll be using this as an opportunity to work on some aspects of our websites that ordinarily get left on the back burner due to time and resources.
Day to day we receive results and schedules from over 2,000 casinos, poker rooms and tour operators as well as almost 1,000 support queries from players and media, and operators each week. This period of live poker shutdown will allow us to focus manpower on cleaning up the database; looking to eliminate errors, duplicate profiles as well as looking to source any missing data, catching up on outstanding/missing results, planning improvements and new features as well encouraging players to get in touch with their own feedback.
We’re also reaching out to our commercial partners and looking for ways to continue to support them. The most obvious way we’re doing this is by switching over to online event advertising for those of our partners who are operating in this space.
Are there any longer-term projects that will perhaps be the focus of your attention and efforts for the immediate future?
We’ll certainly be using this time to explore improvements to our all initiatives: The Hendon Mob and GPI websites, The Hendon Mob Championship live event product as well, and sitting down and reviewing the Global Poker Awards and planning for next year. All I can say here is watch this space!
Every so often you tweet out a notice to poker players about reaching out to make changes to their profiles. With players having a lot more times on their hands, it would seem this is a good time for everyone to do some “spring cleaning” in that regard. Have you seen a recent increase in requests of this nature and overall number of players turning to you?
This would be a great time for players to reach out to us. As someone who plays poker and interacts with players on a regular basis, I’m always surprised at how many players choose the poker table as the place to raise profile issues! Whilst I’m always happy to talk about our websites at the table, I always point that that the optimal way for players who achieve corrections or additions is to reach out to us by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – we have fantastic team who will be able to help with any queries that come our way.
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— The Hendon Mob (@TheHendonMob) March 20, 2020
You all do so much for the poker world; perhaps there’s something that the poker world could now do for you in return? Whether it’s recreational players, professional players, or poker industry folks, what types of assistance could The Hendon Mob/GPI use at this time?
We’re grateful to everyone who continues to support our projects. Our message to poker room managers is – if you have outstanding data, however old, this is a great time to submit to us and create goodwill and satisfaction within your playing community. We hope our commercial partners will stick by us and work with us to find way to support online series. To our players we’d like to say that we’re very much open for business. Why not use this time to check out your Hendon Mob profile and get in touch if anything is missing that ought to be there.