Some may have viewed the Hendon Mob site as having been a bit slow with their decision to make the break with Full Tilt. After all, it has been over five months since Black Friday, and nearly three months since the online poker site went offline altogether following the Alderney Gambling Control Commission’s suspension of Full Tilt Poker’s license to operate in late June.
One reason why some might have found the Hendon Mob’s response to have been a little sluggish here was the fact that in most respects the Mob has been way ahead of curve for a long time.
In For Richer, For Poorer, Vicky Coren tells the story of the early days of the Hendon Mob -- how the group formed, its connection with the early days of Late Night Poker, the launching of the website (back in 2001), and how the four Mobsters managed to be among the earliest poker players around to secure any sort of sponsorship.
Coren notes how the group from very early on had “small bankrolls and big dreams” -- that unlike others they had “ambitions beyond the card-playing itself.” Then she tells how it wasn’t long after Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event that they were able to realize those ambitions, soon inking “the first million-dollar contract in poker” to wear logos for Prima Poker. That relationship lasted a couple of years, I believe, after which point the Mob became absorbed by the ever-expanding throng over at Full Tilt.
Back in the spring I had a lot of fun interviewing Jesse May for Betfair Poker. Among our many topics we talked about the debut of Late Night Poker (in 1999) and those early, pre-Moneymaker days. The interview appears in two parts (Part 1 & Part 2) -- it is in the second that we focused more on the show and May’s involvement.
If you click over there you’ll see May allude to the Hendon Mob guys as also an important part of the scene there in the late 1990s/early 2000s. I’m remembering May making further observations -- ones which ended up on the cutting room floor as far as the published interview went -- regarding how clever and forward-thinking the Hendon Mob guys were when it came to formulating their identity and landing those early sponsorships.
That said, I can understand how difficult it was for them finally to take down the ads -- to accept at last that whatever the future holds for the Hendon Mob, a continued association with Full Tilt Poker probably isn’t going to be part of it.
In their statement from yesterday, they lament what has become of FTP. “We are saddened by the problems that continue to beset Full Tilt Poker” they say, adding almost wistfully that they “would be delighted to see positive developments in the weeks and months ahead” for the site. Perhaps news from today’s hearing with the AGCC will further such hope, but one gets the sense from the Mob’s tone that it’s hard to be overly optimistic at this point.
Over the last decade-plus, the Hendon Mob site has grown considerably, with that database of tourney results now its unquestioned highlight -- the part of the site most of us visit on a regular basis.
Kind of funny how early on the “Hendon Mob” consisted of just the four players, only a couple of whom were from Hendon, apparently. (By the way, Coren explains how the name is kind of an in-joke, Hendon being a decidedly non-frightening north London suburb where she used to watch Disney films at the cinema.) But soon the “Mob” grew to refer additionally to the many forum participants and others who wrote for the site. And today the phrase “the Hendon Mob” is synonymous with the database, that massive collection of names and statistics that, well, includes just about everybody.
As you might imagine, they do have a lot of folks working for them over there. In the statement they point out how the site “employs a sizable staff of full and part time people” who maintain the database, and that they are “currently running at a substantial loss and this is not sustainable in the long term.”
By ending what had been an exclusive relationship with FTP, they explain, the site is now free to explore “new opportunities” -- e.g., another sponsorship that would enable them to continue with their considerable contribution to the poker world.
As someone who writes about poker regularly, I’d hate to see the tremendous resource that the Hendon Mob provides go away. Thus do I hope some entity might find it worthwhile enough to step and sponsor the Mob. ’Cos, in a way, we’re the Mob, too!