Poker’s Ultimate Follower “Get”: An Informal Study Of Poker’s Top Dogs On Twitter
October 13, 2021
Who is poker’s ultimate twitter get?  This is the question I’m posing today and the one I’ve found myself fixating on for awhile now, or to be more exact (and more honest), ever since professional poker player Phil Laak decided to follow my Twitter feed last month.

Laak- known as @RealPhilLaak on Twitter- thanks to his many poker successes, his abundant TV appearances and perhaps even his celebrity girlfriend, has about 15,880 followers reading his tweets on Twitter, yet Phil himself only follows 787.  That means around 20 people have to follow “The Unabomber” for every 1 that he deems worthy- although it should be noted those numbers- like all the ones in this article- do fluctuate.

I’m not ashamed to say, once I did that math it kind of made me proud; somehow my little 133 follower account (@PokerRoadNews) made Laak’s cut. 

The magic of Twitter- and some would argue the deceit of it- is how such a thing can make one feel closer to the person their following, and make them think if need be they could get a message through to them- or possibly by way of retweet- to all of their followers as well.  The power of it is quite appealing.

Needless to say I wanted more.  I wanted an even bigger pro in my virtual stable.  I began to think about who I should shoot for, or to put it another way, which poker pro simply by getting them to follow my account, would suddenly give me more street cred, more juice in the industry, and encourage countless others to follow my feed as well.  To use the term made famous in the poker classic “The Cincinnati Kid,” who of all the poker tweeters out there, has to be considered “The Man.”

What I was really looking for here is poker’s equivalent to Conan O’Brien.  O’Brien, TV’s late night fixture, has nearly 1.7 million people following his @ConanOBrien account, yet he only follows 1 (@LovelyButton)- a Michigan housewife that now has over 31,000 followers herself- thanks no doubt mostly due to his attention.

I want to be like her but in the poker community, yet where do you start? 

Well the obvious choice, and really pretty much where I thought the whole exercise would finish as well, was with my boss Joe Sebok.  With over 1.1 million followers, Joe’s @joesebok Twitter account is known to be the biggest in the poker industry, however there is a downside- at least in the way I've chosen to judge things today- he also follows over 600 people, making his overall ratio about 1 follow for every 1,800 followers.  That’s pretty good, but it’s not amazing.  Even Sebok’s old PokerRoad Radio Co-host Ali Nejad (@Ali_Nejad) does better, following 1 person for every 3,347 that make a habit of reading his tweets.

No doubt exclusivity has to be part of the equation here.  You can’t exactly guarantee your tweets will be noticed, when a player follows so many people they may actually have to use Twitter’s list function to keep them all straight. 

In that regard, Sebok’s poker polar opposite would have to be “Mr. Omaha” Robert Williamson III (@RWilliamsonIII).  Williamson, a poker pro and occasional on-air analyst, follows only 3 people in total, and one of those is his wife’s account, who has only tweeted twice all together.  Unfortunately, to be seriously considered for our purposes, Williamson would need to build up his base a little first without raising his follow numbers in the process- which can be hard to do- he’s currently holding steady with about 1,232 followers in total. 

It should be noted that poker legend Phil Ivey (@philivey) only follows 3 people as well, and with over 36,000 followers, at least on the surface seems almost the perfect mix for this exercise, however Ivey hasn’t tweeted (or had anyone tweet for him) since the middle of July.  I need someone that actually checks their account often, and ideally retweets and @-replys every now and then too- guess we'll have to keep looking.

I seriously considered Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) and his 63,974 followers to 95 follows (673/1), Barry Greenstein (@barrygreenstein) who has 21,520 to only 14 (1,537/1), Howard Lederer’s (@howardhlederer) 20,553 to 40 (514/1) and then almost settled on Tom “durrrr” Dwan (@Tom_Dwan) with 18,372 followers and only 12 follows (1531/1), but right before I did, Phil “The Poker Brat” Hellmuth really got my attention. 

The @phil_hellmuth account, not surprisingly has 48,925 followers, yet Phil only follows 5, for an unheard of ratio of 9,785-to-1.  Also Hellmuth’s account, like Erik Seidel’s (@Erik_Seidel), Jean-Robert Bellande’s (@BrokeLivingJRB) and Jennifer Harman’s (@REALJenHarman) seems highly prized by other top pros, who make room to read his stuff whenever he posts. 

Purely by the numbers, Hellmuth could easily be the champ, however just like when talking about his poker career in general, you can’t just look on the surface.  After all, it’s safe to say not every player feels Hellmuth is the best poker player of all time, even if he does have the most WSOP bracelets, and it’s the same with his Twitter account.  Arguably, Phil is most likely not the best Twitter "get," as he seems to defy the point.  Rarely if ever does Phil use his account to reply to any of those he follows and he hardly ever retweets their posts.  It’d be nice to be one of his 6 follows, but It’s hard to imagine there would be much power in it- unless you were already a celebrity, than of course your name very well might come up.

There’s another pro that seems to be followed by the elite players just as often as Hellmuth is- in fact until recently he was followed by Hellmuth himself.  This pro has nearly 10 times the followers of Ivey, yet follows more than 500 less than Sebok, he has an impressive total ratio of nearly 5,000-to-1.  A frequent tweeter, he also scores well in what sport commentators might call the intangibles, often responding to tweets, getting involved in Twitter discussions and occasionally even having his tweets directly quoted by the poker media- and all despite edging towards 80 years of age. 

Doyle Brunson, "the Godfather of poker," has throughout his poker career proven his dominance in both cash games and tournaments, and though it may seem surprising to many of us who have parents younger than him, that still have trouble even using a computer, it seems a strong argument can be made that Dolly's “The Man,” when it comes to twitter as well- or at least that’s where I landed after much exploration.

With his recurring blond jokes, interesting industry insights, and occasional Twitter-optimized drinking games, it’s a pleasure to be one of the 354,650 @TexDolly followers, but now the goal is clear, I must also become one of the 72 he follows.  Hopefully a cheap shortcut to the kind of Twitter success all of the above pros have reached, through engaging tweets, intriguing thoughts, and a whole lot of hard work and success in the poker industry.

Hey Doyle, my account name on Twitter by the way- you know just in case you're interested- is @PokerRoadNews.
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