Live-poker tournament results accumulator The Hendon Mob (THM) bows to pressure from players to anonymize major cash winnings as shown in its online database.
The world’s largest aggregator of results from real-world poker tournaments, The Hendon Mob (THM), has begun the process of anonymizing results for individual players upon request in the wake of increased pressure from pro players desiring their results to be hidden from public online view.
The Hendon Mob made no official announcement regarding the change, but confirmed it in response to dubious accusations made by at least one poker pro, a German player.
The long-term impact of a results site withholding some of the data in which it traffics is also unclear, but may be a long-term concern for the site and its parent company, MediaRex, which also operates the Global Poker Index (GPI), a series of independent, results-based rankings of players covering much of the poker world.
The move is the latest development in a long-running battle between sites such as The Hendon Mob and a certain population of tournament pros.
At least some of these pros have made the dubious legal claim that the publishing of such results, including the player’s name and amount won for most large-scale poker events, is a violation of personal privacy rights in the European Union under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May.
Claims by some poker pros that THM’s results listing are a GDPR violation appear loosely grounded in fact. All results listed on the site are provided by the world’s largest and most recognized tours and series, all of whom generally require participating players to sign a rights release before competing.
The poker tours widely publicize the results of their events as part of their own brand promotion and marketing, while also providing those results to online record-keeping resources such as THM.
Players have often participated in love/hate relationships with these results databases, which can exist for both live and online play. Many players love them as a resource for determining the general skill level of one’s opponents, in particular in situations such as reaching the late stages of a major poker tournament.
Likewise, experienced pros can view such results listings as placing them at a perceived competitive disadvantage, because their accumulated results are there for the world to see.
Pursuit of back taxes
Yet that may not be the only reason for the ongoing pressure applied by high-stakes players against THM and similar sites. As illustrated in this report from just two weeks ago, several European jurisdictions have stepped up their efforts to collect alleged back taxes owed by many players.
That report focused on Spain’s efforts to collect from some prominent German pros, but several jurisdictions have acknowledged using such online resources as THM as a resource to identify possible tax cheats. Sweden, for example, is another EU member country known to have used these online resources to pursue poker players’ winnings.
Among the players disclosing the change in THM’s reporting conditions was German pro Armin Mette, who successfully demanded that THM remove all links between his real name and the amount of money he’s won in reported live events. (Other resources similar to THM show that Mette, who now lives in Vienna, Austria, has won more than US $400,000 since 2011 in events around the globe.)
Hendon Mob defends itself
Mette publicly claimed that THM was violating the new GDPR in a post on the prominent English-language poker forum, TwoPlusTwo.
Posting as “schmette”, which is also his well-known online poker handle, Mette wrote: “After years of abusive data collection Hendenmob is now forced, due to the GDPR, to delete your accounts if you want to.”
Mette added, “Funnily, HM response is that the people abuse their own rights (GDPR) given to damage “the industry” which helped them with their careers in the first place.”
THM’s poker content manager, Roland Boothby, quickly responded to Mette’s claims. He stated: “The Hendon Mob is run by a small team of poker fans whose aim it is to serve the poker community by operating the best poker database and poker information resource available on the internet.
“By publishing the results and payouts of major tournaments, Hendon Mob is no more guilty of ‘abusive data collection’ than the APT or the PGA. The information published on THM has already been released by a casino or tour in line with their own T&Cs, which a player agrees to by registering the tournament.”
Boothby also pointed to the motivations behind some players’ desires to have their results hidden after the fact.
“It’s deeply sad to see certain players who have enjoyed a successful career in poker celebrate a situation where a small business operating in the poker world has its operations affected by sweeping legislative changes, purely because it confers some benefit to themselves.
“I suspect these same players are more than happy to use the site for their own financial advantage, by looking up and gaining information about their opponents in major tournaments.”