Barny Headline
Barny Boatman is the oldest-ever EPT Main Event winner, now he is a PokerStars Team Pro too.

Ambassadorships are no longer handed out for winning a major event. They’re often carefully choreographed and rely on the sponsored or ‘patched’ pro having a wide range of external outlets to attract fans, and importantly, new players to a poker site. From social media to streaming action, each new pro must align their global appeal with any success at the poker felt. Last week, PokerStars unveiled their newest Team Pro as the 68-year-old poker legend Barny Boatman… but have they really broken the mould?

A Mobster at Heart

“[Barny’s] insights and contributions will be invaluable as we continue to innovate and evolve.”

Barny Boatman is an undoubted poker legend, a mould-breaking player and a key part of poker’s rich history. At 68 years old, the Londoner is in some ways, a deeply linked with the early years of the second era of poker. Born 11 years after the end of the second World War, Boatman forever will be of one of poker’s most iconic clubs – The Hendon Mob.

For the uninitiated, Boatman co-formed the famous poker site, which today stands as the most used lexicon of poker results, statistics and record books. Boatman, his brother Ross – now an award-winning televisions actor – Joe Beevers and Ram Vaswani were The Hendon Mob, hailing from North London, determined to win at the game of poker but grow it at the same time. To say they were successful in doing so would be an understatement; they sold the site for millions some years ago.

Of the four ‘Mobsters’, Boatman was arguably the player featured in fewer headlines in the early years. Ross was an actor in the popular British drama London’s Burning. Joe – now a hugely successful bookmaker – was ‘The Elegance’, always seen in a suit at the poker felt. Ram Vaswani was ‘Crazy Horse’ – the most successful player of those early years of The Mob.

Over the last two decades, Barny Boatman has moved past the trio of his friends in poker terms, winning not one but two WSOP bracelets, countless other tournament titles and last month sealing an EPT Main Event win as the oldest player ever to do so, for over a million pounds. Now, Barny is a PokerStars Team Pro.

“We are delighted to welcome Barny Boatman to the PokerStars family,” Kevin Harrington, PokerStars CEO told fans. “Barny’s reputation as one of the most respected and accomplished players in the industry precedes him, and we are confident that his insights and contributions will be invaluable as we continue to innovate and evolve as a platform.”

Poker in the Ears 300
The Poker in the Ears podcast team celebrated their 300th episode in the company of new ambassador Barny Boatman and the first-ever two-time WPT Winner Victoria Coren-Mitchell.

How Much Did Paris Influence ‘Stars Deal?

Barny’s success in the French capital may look like it sealed the deal for a ‘Stars ambassadorship, but in reality how much influence did it have? The outpouring of love for Barny within the game at the close of the tournament he starred in was perhaps as significant as the success itself. Sure, he won the title, and over €1.2 million. But he won the hearts of the poker public some time ago and the evidence of that hero-worship is there for everyone to see.

Barny was announced as a PokerStars Team Pro not at the event but live in a specially recorded 300th episode of the Poker In The Ears podcast on stage at The Hippodrome in London’s bustling Leicester Square. It was a fitting moment for Barny in a venue where this reporter witnessed the reaction to him returning home with the second of his two WSOP bracelets in 2013, 14 years after his first.

At that time, he had walked into a £250-entry event to support his friend. No matter. The entire room of players burst into spontaneous applause on seeing him. This is the love that Barny Boatman brings to poker.

Winning €1,287,000 in Paris and bettering a 1,747-strong field deep into his seventh decade is one thing but Barny’s popularity is transmitted not only in the live arena but online too. Frequently a fixture in the nominations for Best X/Twitter personality, Barny’s Global Poker Award for that talent is surely coming in time. He should probably have already received an award for his share of work in the popular poker book of short stories, He Played For His Wife and Other Stories.

Vicky and Barny
Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Barny Boatman, friends for decades and both now EPT champions.

The Next Level of a Poker Pioneer

Over the years, attaching The Hendon Mobsters to a poker brand has been nothing new. In their first deal, famously made in the aftermath of Chris Moneymaker’s astonishing victory in 2003 by Barny and Joe Beevers, The Hendon Mob were sponsored by Prima Poker for over $2 million in tournament fees, and they paid that off in full when they won the Prima Transatlantic Cup in 2004 against an American quartet of Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson, and Paul Wolfe.

Moving to Full Tilt Poker, The Mob only ended that deal in 2011 when Black Friday shut down online poker in the United States. The deal was reinstated but The Mob kept their reputation clean as a whistle, moving to Genting Poker and then Grosvenor Poker in the United Kingdom before that site sale ended group sponsorship.

In the years following The Hendon Mob’s collective success at the felt, Barny Boatman has stayed front and center in the game of poker. With this PokerStars Team Pro deal, Barny has the opportunity to help shape the next era of poker just as he has so many before it.

If PokerStars have broken the mould by making Barny Boatman a Team Pro, it is with the man who helped to reshape it so many times over the years.

Images courtesy of PokerStars, the home of the 2024 European Poker Tour.