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The Unabridged Story of The Hendon Mob (Part Four: The Big Sale)

The Unabridged Story of The Hendon Mob (Part Four: What Happened Next)

When we last spoke to The Hendon Mob, they’d been hit, like all of the poker world, by Black Friday. The glory years that followed the poker boom of the 2000’s were over. The Full tilt Poker scandal became the black cloud that floated across the sky to block the sun, and everyone found themselves in the shade for a while. The Hendon Mob were no different.

Selling Out, Moving On

After a short period being sponsored by Genting, the four men took a look at their situation. It was at that moment that they were approached with an offer for their brand. After much discussion, they agreed to a carte blanche sale and just like that, The Hendon Mob business no longer belonged to the group.

“We sold The Hendon Mob complete; the business, the website, everything to Alex Dreyfus,” recalls Joe Beevers, the Mobster who did so much work to build the business across 15 years of poker adventures. “Alex is a great guy and we were very happy with the sale.”

“When we sold it, I wanted to get out of having a full-time job in an office. I wanted to get back to playing poker and doing the things I enjoyed.”

With the sale going through fully in 2013, it brought the sponsorship of poker’s ‘pop group’ to an end. From that first million-dollar deal with Prima Poker, through Full tilt Poker and Genting, they would no longer be patched up professionals. Beevers would later sign up with Grosvenor, a charming nod to his old days at "The Vic."

“I’ve been with Grosvenor for a few years now. They’re a natural fit for me; it’s where I started playing at the Vic, and they’re a UK company.”

Joe Beevers
Joe Beevers now sports the Grosvenor badge

Beevers is proud and happy that the two remaining staff who were part of The Hendon Mob when it was sold continue to work for Alex Dreyfus and the new team who run poker’s most popular database of results, profiles, stats and festivals.

“When we sold it, I wanted to get out of having a full-time job in an office. I wanted to get back to playing poker and doing the things I enjoyed.”

Barny Boatman felt exactly the same. He was delighted to see that Dreyfus took it on and took the Mob’s key staff with them and kept it going.

“We had to make a decision as to whether we were business people who could carry on running it when there was no sponsorship to connect to. I could see that we weren’t going to have the resources to keep it going and carry on being the top database and providing the service that it does. It’s very gratifying that the right people are keeping it going.”

Time for a Change

It was all change for all of the Hendon Mob at that time. Ram Vaswani needed a break, conceding that he had simply ‘had enough’ at that point in his life.

“I was pokered out. After so many years of traveling and playing poker non-stop, it was a good time for me to get out and have a rest. I had a little one and that changed everything, I’ve no regrets.”

It wasn’t just a change of pace that Vaswani craved. He could also see the writing on the wall in terms of poker sponsorship.

“When you’ve had sponsorship deals and all of a sudden, they aren’t there, that changed things a bit. For me, it was time to have a break.”

"After three seasons, Mum has generated a lot of respect within the industry, and I’m getting seen for different parts. Doors are opening, it seems.”

Vaswani wasn’t the only member of The Hendon Mob to walk away from the game. Ross Boatman began gradually returning to acting more than he was playing since the Full Tilt deal ended and has enjoyed a renaissance in his acting career in recent times.

“All actors have different kinds of careers, and some actors are more successful at different times in their career. I went a year without acting at times. In the past, my agent would call and say, ‘We’ve got something for you,' and I’d say, ‘I’m in Goa, playing poker.’"

Once the Full tilt and Genting deals ended, Ross could see that deals were getting smaller and less significant. Everything changed after Black Friday, and he was suddenly more readily available for those auditions.

“As I’ve hit 50, things really seem to have picked up. A lot of the characters I played at the beginning of my career were hard men, gangsters, wide boys, policemen, basically London-based geezers. That all changed after Mum.”


Ross Boatman as Derek in BBC Two's Mum (0:37)

The Mum in question is a hit television show on the BBC in Britain, having won a prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award. Ross plays a hen-pecked man living in suburbia. It’s changed his profile to casting directors as someone who has the ability and range of playing an everyman as well as a hard man.

“The phone rings more often than it used to. I got a call the other day to shoot a scene with Mark Strong. After three seasons, Mum has generated a lot of respect within the industry, and I’m getting seen for different parts. Doors are opening, it seems.”

Ross has enjoyed five years of plays at the National and small-screen stardom in recent times. His acting career has taken off for him and he’s not the only Hendon Mobster who’s experienced an upward curve in an alternative career.

Beevers Starts Fresh

Although Beevers is still a sponsored player for Grosvenor and plays GUKPT events around the UK, he also grew a new business with an old friend in the years following the sale of The Hendon Mob website to Dreyfus.

“Neil Channing had just got out of Black Belt Poker and we both had a big social following, both live and online. Neil’s an absolute genius and was doing write-ups on American Football and Horse Racing. It was really clever stuff. Back in 2013, I’d worked something out with a programmer and started betting on soccer and it worked.”

Beevers went to see Channing, and the two of them formed an alliance that resulted in Betting Emporium, a website full of sportsbetting advice across a wide range of sports such as tennis, soccer, American football and horse racing, which had been a previous career for the eponymous Channing.

"In the first year, [Neil Channing] tipped the two winners in the two biggest meetings of the season.”

The two men set up Betting Emporium for free in 2013, but after the first six months, they started charging punters money. That was down to a huge period of success in the site’s infancy.

“In the first year, Neil tipped Lord Windermere at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and it won at 33/1. He tipped Pino De Ray to win in the same year’s Grand National and that won at 28/1. In the first year, he tipped the two winners in the two biggest meetings of the season.”

Subscribers flew in and continue to do so to this day, with now six years of profitable results behind them. Thousands of bets have been tipped in that time, with their 5,000 members delighted. Even their weekly free column tips alone would have made even the modest of sports bettors a lot of money.

“We put bets up at the major meetings, like Aintree, Cheltenham and Ascot. We only do the tennis majors for the same reason. To have the kind of business that’s still strong after six years shows you how profitable it’s been.”

Together with other Grosvenor players Jeff Kimber and Katie Swift, Beevers has spent much of the last year coaching the boxer David Haye for a documentary called ‘David vs Goliath,’ where the former Heavyweight champion of the world will be taking on the Goliath 2019 Festival in the UK this August.

Barny Boatman Stays on the Grind

Of the four members of The Hendon Mob, Barny Boatman has enjoyed the most success at the felt since Black Friday.

“In 2011, I’d been in an EPT final and that had been the biggest result I’d got. I’d never quite kicked on and won a big one, but that changed in 2013.”

"It was a fantastic moment, and the pure elation, not just for him, but the whole crowd, chanting ‘There’s only one Barny Boatman’ down the corridors of the Rio to bemused Americans."

It certainly did. Barny finally won a WSOP bracelet ten years after coming runner-up, when he defeated Brian O'Donoghue heads up to win $546,080 and send the mostly British rail into raptures.

“It was magical for me to see a huge bank of English players from all generations to come and support Barny,” says his younger brother Ross, who embraced his brother as he clinched victory in a touching moment. “It was a testament to how popular he is. It was a fantastic moment, and the pure elation, not just for him, but the whole crowd, chanting ‘There’s only one Barny Boatman’ down the corridors of the Rio to bemused Americans. He’s a living legend.”

"Ross and Ram were both there,” Barny adds. “There was a funny photograph with Ross, Sin [Melin], Marty Wilson, Padraig [Parkinson] and a load of young UK and Irish players all their arms up in the air cheering. Ram is stood there in the photo, his hands in his pockets with a little smile on his face, which is very Ram. That was a great moment.”

Barny Boatman (center) with Ram Vaswani (left), Ross Bopatman (right) and others upon winning his WSOP bracelet  in 2013
Barny Boatman (center) with Ram Vaswani (left), Ross Boatman (right) and others upon winning his WSOP bracelet in 2013

The victory ‘reignited’ Barny’s love for the game of poker, and he added a second bracelet in a WSOP Europe PLO event just a couple of years ago. He’d always been more of a cash game player but now resides in Madrid, and lives for the World Series each summer.

“I’ve played more WSOP events in the last four or five years than the rest of my career put together. It seems to suit me there and I love it. I’m still interested in the concepts and ideas that come up around the game, but I’m focused more on writing these days. I worked on 'He Played For His Wife And Other Stories,' which went on sale in 2017.”

Looking Back

Things have changed so much in poker, and the four men have changed with it. Vaswani admits that, while he’s recently returned to action following his sabbatical, he preferred the game back in the old days, when more was at risk.

“People who get into poker now have got it easy. Back in the day, there were no books to read, you learned only by playing, and that took time. Now, a beginner can play thousands of hands on the computer and get a feel for how to play really quickly.”

“It’s much more difficult now,” counters Beevers. “The standard and quality of players is higher. There were two books in our day, 'Super System,' and one by Mason Malmouth and David Sklansky. There were no internet training sites or Game Theory Optimal play. We’d talk about things amongst ourselves.”

“It was the first time in years we’ve sat at the same poker table together.”

Barny Boatman added: “When we started, there was one $10k tournament a year. It was beyond our wildest dreams to play in it. Now, every week there’s a $100k high roller. It’s nuts.”

Boatman’s younger brother agrees and adds that there are two schools of thought in poker right now - GTO and exploitative. He definitely identifies as being in the latter camp.

“Every situation is different, every player is different, and it would be a sad thing if it wasn’t that way. If you really could solve it in the same way that limit has been solved, I don’t think I’d want to play it anymore.”

Despite having been away from the game for some time, oddly enough, just the other day, three of the four members of The Hendon Mob found themselves at the same table.

“It was pretty unbelievable,” says Vaswani. “We were playing a tournament and I got knocked out and they were sitting in the same cash game. I ended up in it as well.”

“It was nice how the other players at the table were watching us talk about times past,” says Ross Boatman. “It was the first time in years we’ve sat at the same poker table together.”

Only Beevers wasn’t present, and, having moved out of London, he’s less likely to be at The Vic at the same time as the others. But he does still play at their ‘home casino’ and all four men share a bond that will never be broken.

“When we started, there was one $10k tournament a year. It was beyond our wildest dreams to play in it. Now, every week there’s a $100k high roller. It’s nuts.”

“Ross and I are extremely close,” says Barny. “We’re best friends as well as brothers and I see my Godsons often.”

“We’re more than brothers,” Ross said of his relationship with Barny. “He really is my best friend and whenever I’ve had hard times, either financial or difficulties in relationships, Barny has been a pillar of strength for me.”

“I live in Madrid,” continues Barny. “So it’s rarer that I see the other guys. Ram plays at Dusk Till Dawn or the Vic. Joe’s traveling round the UK, but the last time I saw him was in Vegas where he railed me during the final of the WSOP Millionaire Maker.”

That time, Barny finished seventh, but of course, it was just nice to share the moment with one of his best friends. Beevers spoke to Ram recently, in an amusing echo of their first meeting.

“Ram phoned me up and said ‘Joe, we need to back the draw in this boxing match.’”

Vaswani liked the 40/1 shot and passed the tip on to the now-professional tipster. This time around, it won and both men collected their winnings.

Family Unit

There never seems to have been a time throughout their friendship that the four men haven’t been in touch. There were no fallouts, no splits like pop groups of the non-poker variety go through. Testing their collective mettle in the cauldron of 2000’s poker kept their friendship as strong as ever away from the felt.

Beevers has always made the effort to stay in touch with the other Mobsters. “I spoke to Barny yesterday," he said. "His glory has come later than my own, and I love Barny, he’s just as amazing guy. But then, I love them all.”

As Vaswani put it: “For two years, we traveled non-stop and even before that we were going to the tournaments together for five or six years. We’re like family."

Vaswani is back on the tournament circuit now. With Ross and Barny Boatman keeping an eye out for value between creative projects and Beevers on the GUKPT trail for Grosvenor Poker, there’s every chance that, in Britain at least, The Hendon Mob will cross paths at the felt. Ross Boatman certainly hopes so.

“We sold the site, but we’ll always be The Hendon Mob.”

“We’ve traveled the world together in poker. I love poker - it’s afforded me a comfortable lifestyle. I’ve probably made more money out of poker than I ever made from acting!”

“Maybe we’ll end up going to the World Series together,” says Vaswani. “We’re always going to be friends and we all speak on a regular basis.”

Barny Boatman smiles, the twinkle in his eye one that all four men still share.

“We sold the site, but we’ll always be The Hendon Mob.”

In their collective name, in every internet search for a tournament, a title or a poker player, and like the era of Britpop they helped to define, surely The Hendon Mob will live forever.

Sharelines
  • The Hendon Mob discuss life after selling the site to Alex Dreyfus in 2013.

  • Barny Boatman: “We sold the site, but we’ll always be The Hendon Mob.”

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