Joe Beevers interview: ‘I’ll tell you what I’m doing, I’m enjoying myself!’

It’s not often you find a poker player who doesn’t like a punt on the weekend’s football, or a flutter on the big horse racing festivals. Poker and sports betting go hand-in-hand.

And there are guys like Joe Beevers who have had incredible success doing both. One of the founders of the Hendon Mob, Beevers grew up gambling, and recently launched a tipping website with Neil Channing to share some of their secrets. PokerPlayer caught up with Joe to talk about Betting Emporium, Barny Boatman’s bracelet win and whether the original Hendon Mob still exists now…

PokerPlayer: Hey Joe, how’s it going? What have you been up to recently?

Joe Beevers: Last year we sold the Hendon Mob website which has given me a lot more free time. I was spending a lot of time on the business and selling it has enabled me to get back to poker and do the things that I want and choose to do. So I’ve been playing a lot more poker and we are hoping to announce something soon regarding another project that we have been working on in poker. It’s pretty exciting but I can’t tell you about it just yet…

The other thing that has been taking up a lot of my time is Betting Emporium

Our readers might not be familiar with Betting Emporium, can you tell us a bit more about it?
We set it up about a year ago – the first thing we did was the Oscars in 2013. The idea behind the site was my interest in sports betting since a young age and I’m very, very good friends with Neil Channing. Neil is actually my twin, we were born on the same day, in the same year. There’s four minutes between us! We met through poker and gambling and over 20 years we’ve become very good friends.

Neil was doing a lot of write-ups on American Football for his own site. He really does put the work in. I’d been doing a lot of stuff on football, using a computer programme that was written specifically for something that I wanted to look at and work on. We were able to do a lot of analysis and we started betting some of the stuff we found and we were doing well. Neil and I had a chat and we said listen, there’s a lot of tipping sites out there but people don’t really put their names to them. If we put our names and faces to something then it could do really well. I mean, people know if I’m putting my money down on something then it’s something you want to follow me in on. Whatever I’m betting, you want to be with me, and with Neil it’s very much the same thing.

So we decided to set this site up and we started doing everything for free.

How much involvement does Neil Channing have in Betting Emporium and how good is he?
He’s just amazing, he’s an absolute sponge for information. He just reads and reads and I don’t know how he ever sleeps. He reads everything that there is, anywhere. Then he gets everyones opinions together, filters out the good ones from the bad ones, and then adds his own. The amount of work he does really is phenomenal.

Last year he did the Cheltenham festival and he did it completely for free. He did very, very well and we nearly hit the absolute jackpot. We had 66/1 seconds and 33/1 seconds but he did everything for free and everyone that followed us should have won a lot of money.

We carried on doing everything for free and started to get quite a following. We now charge for some of the stuff on the site but some of it is still free. The Premier League write ups I do are still free, Neil just did the Oscars again which was also free and he tipped a lovely 9/2 winner. You don’t have to pay to read that, anyone that is a registered user can access that.

So what parts of the site do users have to pay for?
Well, Cheltenham comes up next week and it’s massive. It’s the biggest betting week of the year. For anyone that follows horse racing or bets on a regular basis, Cheltenham is like the mecca – it’s the Las Vegas of sports betting. It’s going to be our busiest week and it’s going to be Neil’s busiest week of the whole year. 

We’ve already put up one article about the Cheltenham festival where Neil has written up the Champion Hurdle and he’s tipped Our Conor, which is still a very good bet at 9/2. That write-up is available free to registered users and all you’ve got to do is fill in a form.

There’s four days of racing and Neil will write-up each race on the day by midday at the latest, and that’s for people who subscribe to that service. The cost of access during Cheltenham week is £30 per day, or you can subscribe to all four days in a package which costs £99. 

Do you get a lot of subscribers to that? How is the site doing in general?
The site is very popular. We have a few thousand registered users and a lot of those are subscribing to the things that have to be paid for. The number of people signing up and subscribing is very encouraging and particularly for Cheltenham, considering there is almost a week still to go we can’t believe how many people have already signed up in preparation.

Is £99 to subscribe quite a lot for the average punter?
We had a couple of people who thought that £99 for the week was quite expensive. To be honest it’s not quite aimed at someone who bets £2 or £5 a race, it’s aimed at someone who takes it a bit more seriously. The analysis and the in-depth stuff that Neil does is really clever. It’s really good stuff and it’s well written. Apart from the fact that he’s picking out really good bets and good spots where bookmakers don’t want you to bet, he’s also educating people. I’ve learnt a lot from him, not just in life but in the last 12 months in sport betting I’ve learnt a lot too. It’s because I read everything he writes, and you’re getting a lot of knowledge which is obviously very valuable.

Some people have actually said they would like it to be more expensive so that not so many people got the tips. The thing with Cheltenham is, it’s such a big betting medium that it’s unlikely if we picked a horse that we’d affect the price too much. With something like Cheltenham if you want to have a big bet on a horse, you can have a big bet on a horse.

You’ve already mentioned a new poker project you’re working on, but generally are you focusing away from the game on things like Betting Emporium?
I’ll tell you what I’m doing, I’m enjoying myself. I’m playing a lot more live poker and playing a lot more cash poker. I’m actually finding it quite difficult because my body clock adjusted to a normal routine when I was working on the business and now I’m flipping between the two. But I’m enjoying playing cash games again and there are some good games to play in. I’m also going to be playing a few more tournaments and I’m heading to the World Series for a bit longer this year too.

How was the Hendon Mob website doing before you sold it?
The Hendon Mob business used to have eight staff when we were with Full Tilt Poker. We had a lot of expenses running the business and after Black Friday we suddenly had no income. Full Tilt was 95% of the Hendon Mob income and it literally stopped overnight. We had to make a lot of redundancies and towards the end we had three staff including myself – sometimes I was doing 70 hour weeks.

It was our business and I quite enjoyed it, but I want to play poker, bet sports, go to the gym and stuff like that. I’m a poker player and that’s what I’ve been doing for 25 years. I don’t really want to be sitting in front of a computer screen answering support e-mails! The opportunity to sell the business came at a perfect time for us and that really freed me up.

Do you have any regrets about selling, or were you happy to move on?
For us it was perfect, the timing was perfect. We were already supplying data for the Global Poker Index. They used our data to create the Index and to do their rankings. We had a few other deals and Alex Dreyfus – who bought GPI following the closing down of the Epic Poker League – had lots of plans for the rankings and spoke to us about the Hendon Mob website. He wanted to buy the business and it came at a point that worked very well for us as individuals. He was able to take the business and put his plans into process. We wouldn’t have been able to do that, we had a very small team and he has 18 people working for him in Malta. His plans for the GPI, Hendon Mob and rankings in general are very exciting and should be great for poker.

The financial deal made sense, the business deal made sense and we were very happy with the deal. We had other offers from other people for the business but we turned them down because they were either not the right people or the right plans for the business. With Alex we were very happy.

The Hendon Mob site might have moved on but does the group still exist?
The Hendon Mob is the website and the business. Originally when we set the website up, it was about four guys from North London. The Hendon Mob now is about the number one poker database in the world and the rankings. And lots of people – particularly Americans – think that the Hendon Mob is exactly that, they don’t know about the four of us.

Obviously the four of us are still really good friends and we’re still playing poker, although Ram not so much. Barny, Ross [Boatman] and I still see each other all the time and play the same tournaments. I’m always going to be Joe Beevers: founder of the Hendon Mob. But the brand, that belongs to Alex. He didn’t just buy the website, he bought everything. I couldn’t call myself Joe Beevers of the Hendon Mob anymore. The Hendon Mob itself exists in a very different way.

You mentioned Ram [Vaswani]. What is he up to nowadays?
We get asked that question a lot. Ram’s doing very well. He kind of fell out of love with poker to be honest. He did go to the World Series last year and actually played the $50k players championship and the Main Event! He doesn’t really play that much at all now though. He does a lot of sports betting, not involved with me, and he’s been doing a lot of that instead. Hopefully he’ll come to Las Vegas this year and we’ll get to spend a bit more time with him.

How proud were you of Barny’s bracelet win last year?
Obviously it was fantastic but for me it was particularly sad. I planned to be in Las Vegas for five weeks but I had to come home early for a couple of reasons. One was the sale of our business. There were certain things I had to do that required me to be back in the country. So after two weeks in Vegas I flew home and Ram flew out. Two days later, Barny won the bracelet!

So I spent god knows how many years sweating Barny in big tournaments, funking him to win big, and then he does it the day after I leave town! I mean how inconsiderate was that!

It was absolutely fantastic though. I was following back home and watching everything, I spoke to him afterwards and it was really a momentous occasion. If you watch some of the Youtube videos where they are walking around the Rio singing “there’s only one Barny Boatman”, it was like your favourite football team won the Premier League, the FA cup, the Champions League, all at the same time. To win a gold bracelet is every poker player’s dream. We’ve all won nice tournaments but until you win a gold bracelet you kind of feel like the trophy cabinet is incomplete.

You might not have your own bracelet but you did take down the Poker Million. Was that your proudest moment in the game? 
Obviously it was my biggest win and it was life-changing from a money point of view, but my favourite tournament that I ever won was the Irish Open in 2003. I love playing in Ireland and I love the Irish Open but unfortunately I only got €50k compared to $1m for the Poker Million. The million was pretty special and it’s the number one thing on my Hendon Mob database.

I also finished second to Jimmy White in the Poker Million. He basically won it calling an all-in with 6-4! I said to him: ‘Jimmy, why did you call that bet with the 6-4?’ He said: ‘Joe, I love the 6-4and I was dealt that hand three hands earlier. I couldn’t pass it twice!’

If only poker was still like that…
If everyone playing poker was Jimmy White then we’d be alright. But he’s a lovely fella and good luck to him, thank god he did it when the prize money wasn’t $1m!

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