The following article appeared in the October 2010 issues of Poker Pro Magazine and Online Poker Pro Magzine as well as on their website (http://www.pokerpromagazine.com/how-social-media-can-help-your-fantasy-poker-game.html)
How Social Media Can Help Your Fantasy Poker Game
Surefire Ways to Find Out Which Events the Pros Will Be Playing in
By Chad Holloway
I believe Fantasy Poker is a game that is constantly evolving. That was never more apparent than at the 2010 World Series of Poker when Full Tilt Poker (FTP) hosted the most advanced Fantasy Poker competition to date. In that league, participants were able to choose 15 poker players for each of the events at the WSOP, with the option to change the starting lineups right up to the start of the tournament. This "interchangeable" format proved to be a revolutionary advancement in a game where most leagues only allow a single lineup for all events.
The thing that makes the interchangeable format so appealing is that it puts Fantasy Poker on par with other fantasy sports by allowing participants to take it as serious or carefree as they like. If it’s something they’d rather not devote their time and attention to, they can simply pick a team and keep the same roster for the entire Series; on the other hand, if they want to take it a step further, they can put serious time and effort into researching the various aspects of Fantasy Poker and update accordingly.
This includes finding out what games certain players are proficient in, any recent success and most importantly, if they will even be playing in the tournament for which they’ve been selected.
Information pertaining to this last aspect can be particularly difficult to find, for a plethora of reasons, which is quite a shame since such info can make or break your Fantasy Poker team; after all, you can’t earn points if your selected player isn’t even playing the event.
For example, let’s say you want to pick Phil Hellmuth for a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event at the WSOP. You already know Hellmuth is a solid choice for a no-limit tournament, given his track record, but how do you know if he’ll even register for a low buy-in tournament? This is the great "registration question" of Fantasy Poker leagues around the world.
When I was working for PokerNews at the 2010 WSOP, I updated my FTP lineup based on information gathered at the WSOP and via social media outlets. Now not everyone has the benefit of being at the tournament venue; however, most people have access to the latter via the Internet.
There are three primary social media outlets that have proven particularly effective in registration research: blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s examine each outlet individually and their potential impact on Fantasy Poker.
Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen and Phil Laak are just a few of the individuals who regularly blog about their personal experiences, opinions, successes and other noteworthy events. They will often blog about their upcoming itineraries, including the slate of tournaments they’re planning to attend. This is especially true when the WSOP, WSOPE, Aussie Millions and European Poker Tour events roll around.
Take Negreanu, for example. He is notorious for blogging about his tournament schedule, usually doing so weeks in advance of any given tournament. This provides his readers with a great deal of information that proves essential to Fantasy Poker success. Not only does Negreanu tell you what tournaments he will play for sure and when you should start him, but he also lists the ones that he has no interest in playing at all, in which case you’ll want to start someone else. If everyone did this on his or her blog, choosing who to start in Fantasy Poker would be easy.
However, as fascinating as blogs can be, they do come with a number of problems. First, they are not always up to date. Some players only blog once every few weeks, meaning there is a good chance their plans have changed or become outdated. Second, you often have to read through a lot of entries to find information applicable to Fantasy Poker since a lot of poker players’ blogs deal, ironically, with things other than poker. This is not to discourage you from using blogs in your Fantasy Poker research; on the contrary, if you’re willing to work through these roadblocks, blogs will provide you with a great deal of useful information.
Facebook has proven especially useful in the Fantasy Poker world because of its up-to-the-minute capabilities. Poker pros are constantly updating their statuses, often including their event schedule and tournament updates. All you have to do to gain access to this information is send them a "friend" request. I personally have around 200 poker "friends" on Facebook and have found that most players are more than happy to accept a request. For those pros who prefer to keep their Facebook profile personal, there are a number of fan pages devoted to various players that you’ll be able to access.
Once you’re "friends" with a poker player, you’ll be able to receive any status updates relevant to Fantasy Poker. In the meantime, you’ll also be able to check out his profile, view pictures, and do all the other good Facebook stuff that people do. If you’re really daring, and polite, you can even send them a message. I’ve sent a few Fantasy Poker questions to various players and have found that most respond with a quick answer. If you find Facebook useful, you’ll no doubt find it even more effective when used in conjunction with Twitter.
For those of you who don’t know what Twitter is, Wikipedia describes it as "a social networking and micro-blogging service, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., that enables its users to send and read other users’ messages, called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page."
Essentially, Twitter allows you to follow a people, in this case poker pros, and read their up-to-the-minute Tweets (which can be set up to appear on their Facebook pages). Twitter has had a major influence on Fantasy Poker by becoming the go-to place for accurate registration information.
Poker players are aware that people are interested in knowing what tournaments they will be playing; as such, most use their Twitter accounts to post the tournaments they’ll be playing, followed by updates on how they are doing in the tournament. These updates can, and often do, come several times per hour. On top of this, Twitter allows you to customize who you follow, meaning you can subscribe to updates from your favorite players and those on your Fantasy Poker roster.
At the 2010 WSOP, I used Twitter on a daily basis to keep abreast of registration news. This allowed me to select fantasy players I knew would be playing in a certain event, thus improving my chances of earning points. This research paid off time and time again, but never more so than in Event 36, $1,000 no-limit hold’em, when I selected former November Niner Scott Montgomery, who had Tweeted that he was planning on playing a few hours before the tournament even began. Montgomery went on to win and scored me some major fantasy points; in fact, that selection pushed me toward the top of the leaderboard and allowed me to finish in 343rd place, which was among the top 2 percent of the field.
Setting up a Twitter account is free and you can add poker players at your leisure. For those of you who are interested, I’ve provided a list of some of the most popular poker player Twitter accounts.
If you play in an "interchangeable" Fantasy Poker league, I highly recommend you use Twitter and other social media outlets to help determine your starting roster.
You might just find that it ups your game and leads you to Fantasy Poker success.
Follow Them on Twitter
Annie Duke . . . AnnieDuke
Phil Hellmuth . . . phil_hellmuth
Daniel Negreanu . . . RealKidPoker
Doyle Brunson . . . TexDolly
Scotty Nguyen . . . TheScottyNguyen
Jennifer Harman . . . REALJenHarman
Erik Seidel . . . Erik_Seidel
Barry Greenstein . . . barrygreenstein
Annette Obrestad . . . Annette_15
Mike Matusow . . . TheMouthMatusow
Eric Baldwin . . . basebaldy
Jean-Robert Bellande . . . BrokeLivingJRB
Michael Mizrachi . . . TheGrinder44
Gavin Smith . . . oleGSmith
Todd Brunson . . . ToddBrunson
Justin Smith . . . BoostedJ
Greg Raymer . . . FossilMan
Vanessa Rousso . . . VanessaRousso
Joe Sebok . . . joesebok
Chad Holloway is a semi-professional poker player from Baraboo, Wisconsin, who specializes in Fantasy Poker. He currently writes for Predictem.com and is a featured blogger at UnaBomberPoker.com