The launch of 4Poker feels different to other poker start-up launches. With some industry big-hitters behind it, the site intends to do the right thing for players, putting them at the center of business operations.
It is not surprising that several former senior executives are working on the new venture, joining a founding team that includes a high-stakes player.
The Chief Operating Officer of 4Poker is one of the ex-Stars staffers. He talks about how he became involved, why 4Poker will be good for the game, and how a soft launch is expected towards the end of the year.
Many will be surprised by this move after many years at PokerStars. What makes you want to play 4 Poker?
The answer is that I love start-ups. It was the passion and energy of the founder and the team that made the difference.
Several experienced ex-PokerStars colleagues found themselves there, but I didn’t know much of the vision until I did some consulting for the company.
Poker is still close to my heart because it was good to me for a long time. This is why I am so excited that a poker start-up even exists, and as a bonus, I see a lot of the original PokerStars DNA now at 4Poker.
Is there an opportunity for another poker operator in the near future?
Given the global dominance of a single operator for much of the past decade, it was a fair question to ask myself. In the past few years, we have seen that the space has opened up for a poker-focused operator like 4Poker because most of the sites today are huge corporate-run, multi-product public gaming companies that are focused on sports or casino.
I believe that other brands competing and helping to grow the category is a good thing for the game. There is a space for a private operator who believes in serving player over corporate interests and who is not short-termist, M&A or share price focused.
Is it possible for you to reveal any of the vision or mission of 4Poker?
It is a little too early. However, the team has put a year’s work into this long before me, and is now nearing a launch, which I would suggest, at minimum, can be disruptive and, at best, turn into a beast and leader in many markets over the coming years.
The words “poker for players, by players” and “If it’s good for poker, we’ll do it” are enough to give a sense of our approach.
We don’t know when the world’s newest poker site will go live.
We are taking it slowly and iterative while we make sure that the product is ready and that we are able to scale once we have it right. We will have a soft launch with some invited guests and a trial of the product on the desktop only.
To get some people onto the site and playing and rewarded for being early adopters, we want to run a major series early in the future.
How will you make sure the players are getting what they want or the game is what it needs?
The two-way dialogue and virtual open door with players that I feel has been missing in recent years, is something I am particularly excited about. We will be doing a lot of the same, only in real-time, online via a dedicated players’ forum, because they had an almost always-on dialogue between the top pros and SuperNovas.
Players at 4Poker will have a seat at our table so that we can grow poker together and deal directly with some of the less sexy developments.
The world’s leading prizemoney earner is one of the founding members of 4Poker. What do you think about the recent allegations against him?
By chance, this was brought to my attention by a former Stars colleague when I was holidaying in Australia, and I spoke to him by this stage, unbeknown to them.
I was shocked but also open-minded at this point, which was a social media outburst by a character of questionable credibility, and I took it for what it was.
I am aware of the industries I have worked in and the players that play in horse racing, sports betting or poker. The truth is, as always, I will make my own judgement of people, and in the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting his family and loved ones.
Since working for the founding owners of PokerStars, I have not spent time with someone with as much passion for poker and people.
Are you in favor of the denial of the most serious allegations related to cheating?
Business circles should not be playing judge, jury and executioner with such an allegation, nor should anyone else in social, media, or worse yet.
I would put the trust back in the hands of GGPoker, even if I didn’t know the team or people there, since I have a long background in Customer Operations and they should investigate if anyone is implicated.
This is what it is, a desperate statement from a former associate, and that’s why Bryn decided to treat it that way. He says he has staked 100s of players over the years and lost with many of them, but is losing more money with this one.
The most important thing to me in my business relationship is that he is voting with his feet. He has been talking about launching a site that takes integrity and responsibility to the next level, since my very first discussion with him. The public can make a decision soon enough.
There has been an increase in the focus on integrity. The PIC has just been launched by GGPoker. What do you think about that, and what do you think will be done to address game integrity?
Someone who is a big fan. I know that Bryn has a good relationship with the High Stakes poker community and that he is in a good position as one of our ambassadors to help, as ironic as that may seem.
We need to hire the best in the field who share our passion for poker in order to do our part. There are people in the 4Poker team that have been around before the term responsible gaming or game integrity even existed.
I was part of the management team who came up with “game integrity” around 2010-11 as a way to distinguish between fraud security and game integrity. Some of the very best people in that field are now at 4Poker.
In collaboration with our fellow operators, we will certainly be responsible. I look forward to working together to ensure the online poker sector remains a fun and safe environment for players, because I am a big fan of working close to, not against, our competition on the subjects that matter most.
A clean game is something we all have an interest in. If it is good for poker, we will do it.
“I’m excited that a poker start-up even exists, and I’m a member of the founding team,” said the former PokerStars executive, who is now part of 4Poker’s founding team. Poker is still close to my heart because it was good to me for a long time. This is why I’m so excited that a poker start-up even exists, and as a bonus, much of the original PokerStars DNA, I see now at 4Poker,” he said.