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Tableside Tweeting

Postby Roland

A recent talking point has been the use of twitter by bloggers from the qualifying events. PSB Matt was told to stop by a World Snooker official when tweeting from a non-streamed table at PTC2. He later summed up his feelings: ... -thoughts/

ProSnookerBlog wrote:I cannot though complete this post without commenting on what some of you will have noticed on Twitter, namely the issue of tweeting from the seating gallery at the venue which was raised by the tournament officials on the Monday. It was pointed out to me that the main problems are that in the case of tweeting from the TV tables, the stream to everyone at home is actually on something like a 20-30 second delay which could potentially lead to betting problems. In addition it was also felt that I would be too close to the tables and that it might distract the players, or encourage members of the public to use their phones also.

For me I can completely understand the first issue and see where problems might arise if I were to be tweeting live updates in that scenario. It should be noted however that with those matches being streamed, I largely avoided those tables and certainly had no intention of tweeting from them, indeed what would be the point?

As for the second issues I am not convinced by these as I spoke to a substantial number of players about the distraction factor and none told me that they found discreet tweeting to be a problem. Indeed photographers are allowed to take photos and I would argue that is far more distracting than silently tapping buttons onto a mobile phone out of view. ... y-betting/

Snookerbacker wrote:We are all aware and indeed the bookmakers always point out in the small print that the stream on their websites is delayed, from anything between 10-30 seconds usually. I have it on fairly good authority that the bookmakers themselves have a faster ‘closer to live’ stream than they put out on their site, allowing them to make adjustments to prices in the vital seconds before a frame or a match changes on one shot. But to the best of my knowledge, in events such as the PTC’s these pictures are not in real time, so therefore anyone with any form of instant communication (which in my experience Twitter isn’t always) to someone at a PC with a superfast, ultra reliable connection who likes a bet, there may be potential to beat the bookies, albeit in a window of 4 or 5 seconds.

I know this sounds very unlikely, but just imagine if you were the person at the laptop betting in-play, for argument’s sake on the outcome of a single frame and you had someone at the venue watching a match that is live-streamed in the way described above. You would simply need to agree a one letter or digit code to represent a player, send this when a ball is on it’s way into the pocket and maybe, just maybe, you might beat the bookies or the faster betting exchanges with an instant text message to your accomplice. Though all bets placed in-play are always subject to a further time delay before they are confirmed, even on the exchanges.

In-play betting is big business, indeed one bookmaker I contacted about this very matter last season said that he would usually take more money on an in-play streamed match on a damp Monday morning than on the World Championship Final. The advances made in snooker streaming will heighten interest amongst gamblers and traders that prefer to bet in this way and play the books and doubtless, if you know your stuff and are prepared to watch every match you trade meticulously, there is money to be made. Trust me, I did it for a year, usually on matches involving Ronnie as the over reaction from people on the exchanges to him potting a long red has to be seen to be believed, but it’s hard work.

So are World Snooker right to stop tweeting from tables that are live streamed from people that they have welcomed to cover the event online? Well, I’m not sure they are. Twitter is after all a public forum and is very unlikely to be responsible for any supposed in-play betting coups that might materialise.

But instant-messaging is possibly a little bit more contentious and while these delays in transmissions are there, I suspect it always will be. That said, who is to say this isn’t happening anyway with spectators at these events? ... ebate.html

GaryOnCue wrote:While snooker's new found Twitter culture has been greeted with warmth by many, it's not the case for everyone with the tweeting during matches being given the big thumbs-down by World Snooker in Gloucester.

This has opened up a lengthy debate about how Twitter can best be employed to improve coverage of the game, without becoming an unruly free for all while players are trying to concentrate on playing the game.

The answer to this is of course, is by no means easy. But a flat out 'no' to tweeting helps no-one.

While I'm not the kind of snooker fan who feels the need to know about every ball being potted in every match, neither do I need convincing on how Twitter can be an effective tool in providing coverage for exciting non-televised matches.

A classic example is the deciding frame between Matthew Stevens and Fergal O'Brien in last year's World Championship qualifiers, where the Crucible fate of both these professionals swung on like a pendulum with only Twitter capable of painting the most accurate picture.

With a huge demand for live updates in an enthralling final frame, superb Twitter commentary was broadcasting a blow-by-blow account of the frame meaning despite the match not being seen on television, it still went down as one of many fans' games of the season.

This is evidence in itself of just how well new technology can assist snooker in providing greater exposure.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Roland

I was one of the tweeters from the Sheffield EIS during the Stevens v O’Brien match and the reason we were doing it is because there was no live stream, and having someone tell you the lay of the balls in conjunction with following World Snooker’s Live Scoring is the next best thing. I knew this from experience by following Prosnookerblogger Matt’s tweets and watching the live scores ticking away on my home computer.

The thing with the Sheffield EIS badminton hall though is that you are sitting far enough away from the action not to be a distraction to the players and with several tables playing simultaneously there is a constant buzz of people moving about, so much so that the players probably wouldn’t even notice a mobile phone going off.

One argument I’ve heard against tableside tweeting is live betting where punters can watch a stream and bet on the outcome of a frame before it’s finished. I can see where they are coming from but I don’t think realistically this is something that could be used for profit. Firstly say the stream is 20 seconds behind real time. An event happens such as a player misses a red on a break of 60 and leaves the table perfect for his opponent. The tweeter has to type what they’ve just seen, press send, wait for the sending icon to spin around for a few seconds before the tweet is finally sent and then the person at the other end has to refresh, read and then make a judgement and act and submit his bet and wait for it to be confirmed, all in the space of 20 seconds! I can’t see it myself but this is irrelevant to me anyway because from mine and Matt’s point of view neither of us see the point in tweeting from a table where the audience at home can watch a live stream because you’re not telling them anything they can’t already see for themselves.

This is only a factor when the action is being streamed. If there is no stream then why would anyone bet on the outcome of a live frame when they can’t see the lay of the balls and how would the bookmakers work out the odds unless they had someone there watching with a computer and a good internet connection? So why not allow tableside tweeting?

My first thought was that in snooker venues all mobile phones must be switched off. It’s been this way for years because let’s not forget when mobile phones first started to come into general use that’s all they were – phones. Rules are rules and the worst thing that can happen to a snooker player to ruin their concentration is for a loud ringtone to go off just as they are down on the shot. So from this point of view mobiles are rightfully banned from snooker arenas and there are signs everywhere telling people to switch them off.

But these days the handheld devices you carry around in your pocket are much more than just phones, they are cameras, video recorders, music and video players, GPS trackers, data archives, games machines and whatever else you want to use them for plus they have internet connection. So in my view the rules around the use of these devices by bloggers needs looking at again with a fresh outlook. The landscape has changed.

It is a myth that tableside tweeting is distracting to the players. It might annoy a few spectators sitting close by but the players don’t even notice, and that is a fact! Matt asked a number of professionals at PTC2 and more than half didn’t even see him and the rest didn’t know he was on Twitter when watching their games. If you are in the situation of myself or Matt when at a venue i.e. representing your blog or website then you know how to do it in a respectful way with all ringtones and volumes switched off and with the screen facing away from the players so as not to distract with the glare of the screen. It’s all common sense really. So the key is to use them responsibly.

But the one thing I will say is that I don’t think it should then be a free for all with all spectators being allowed to sit and watch and be texting and taking pictures and footage and whatever else with their mobile devices during a televised tournament and maybe seeing some do it will lead others to think it is fair game. There’s not a problem at qualifying events because there’s not an audience and if you are there you are either friends with a player or hardcore and you are providing a service. If you’re at a televised tournament then you are bringing nothing by tweeting so there is no point. If you are in the situation of the UK as it was in Telford with 2 televised and 2 non-televised then there is the case for venue tweeting from the non-tv tables.

At the end of the day though, if everything was streamed over the internet then there would be no need for live tableside tweets.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Wildey

what is important to remember here just like live streaming is delayed tweeting or texts arent exactly instant it takes time to go throug the process of typing then sending then waiting for it to apear on a time line or on a mobile phone of another person before you can start to place a bet whitch in that time the 30 second delay would have soon passed.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Monique

To answer your last paragraph, yes it could be a concern, people from the audience tweeting all over the place and fussing with their phones.
WSA had a similar concern with Steve and me taking pictures. I suggested that we could wear well visible media badges so that it would be clear to everyone that we were there to do a job, not snapping around for fun. Maybe the same type of measure could be taken for a few "official bloggers".

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Roland

Yes Monique I was thinking one way forward was an official World Snooker bloggers badge or something like that. As I said though I have no desire to tweet from a televised venue apart from the usual stuff between frames or sending the odd viewpoint photo or give the odd opinion as to how the match is going. It's the non-streamed stuff like most of the PTC matches or qualifying events where I think bloggers should be allowed to tableside tweet but there should be strict rules to abide by such as ensuring ringtones are off and screen glare is dimmed and basically whatever other measures to ensure there is no chance of distraction to players.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Bourne

Several points to go through but to start with, coded messaging on twitter is the biggest weapon ... yes it takes a few seconds to open/read/refresh etc on twitter, how do you get round that ? Agreement between tweetee and gambler: "Soon as I send this tweet, lump on xxx" ... saves several crucial seconds, with the gambler all ready to enter his stake/odds and completes it at the click of a button.

Nature of snooker as a sport is that it's in a silent arena, so little things like clicking etc are far more noticeable ... compare it to tennis, just impossible to police these sorts of things because there's always noise (particularly outdoor tournaments), so who's to tell when someone is sat courtside on betfair and getting ahead of the game ? It's absolutely endemic in tennis but snooker has a better chance to stop it if they stay strict.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Monique

indeed. And that's why "official bloggers" could come into play. Official as in "WSA trusted" rather than "working for WSA". Obviously only people who would have given evidence that they know how to behave.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Roland

Also the iphone doesn't make a clicking noise :-)

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Wildey

Monique wrote:indeed. And that's why "official blogger" could come into play. Official as in "WSA trusted" rather than "working for WSA". Obviously only people who would have given evidence that they know how to behave.

totally agree with that.

last thing you want is a 70 or 80 people tweeting or texting all over the shop also give them designated seats to do the tweeting so that its where best to do it from rather than front row in the eye line of players if its a problem.

regarding streaming tweeting there is no real point anyway someone watching on line will be tweeting for people in work or on the go looking at their mobiles.

it really is not a major issue it just needs the WPBSA to accept it and deal with it professionally,embrase it and use it to their advantage instead of sweeping it under the carpet thinking it will go away.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Witz78

who was it who was stopping yous tweeting? it wasnt Paul the black steward by any chance was it

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Wildey

Matt_2745 wrote:
Monique wrote:WSA had a similar concern with Steve and me taking pictures.

Interesting, didn't realise that.

Think us bloggers are all singing from the same hymn sheet really.

How about if I wear this? ... black-tee/

I'd roll up to PTC7 wearing it but I doubt I'd get through the door!

what do you think should happen ?

its obvious they cant hide tweeting or blogging its part of every day life now.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby PLtheRef

Hmm interesting,

on the one hand I can understand the idea that due to noise, it can become a distraction, especially when done - tableside, bearing in mind that the World Qualifiers were being held in the Badminton Hall, and the seating was clearly above the floor of the arena - in that it would be pretty much nigh on 'impossible' for a player to be distracted from a shot - especially given that most twitterers in particular Sonny and Matt both ensured that they were at the very back of the hall. - In other venues where spectators are at table level this becomes

Another point is that WS are in the end a profit driven organisation in that one of its aims is to make a profit. Given that WS do charge a fee for people to watch their live streams the idea of somebody unofficially, (no matter how good the intentions are) tweeting 'commentary' certainly would put such a venture as streaming at a potential risk - I mean if I could get to read a commentary by Matt or Sonny for nothing - rather than paying £30 to watch a stream then I would choose personally the former as its a more economical option.

Re: Tableside Tweeting

Postby Wildey

yes but the tweeting was coming from non TV Tables.

there was one match Drago v O'Brien where it was exciting stuff Drago leading 3-0 O Brien was clawing the lead back Twitter was the only scource of score in that match following the demise of Live Scoring at 3-1.