Rick Dacey
June 9, 2023
4Poker Updates

Last Sunday, 4Poker ran one of the best value freerolls you’ll ever likely to come across as our Go4Pro freeroll handed out 4 packages for the Main Event in Vegas next month – plus another 44 spots paying $400 apiece. 

Who are our champs that will be living the poker dream as honorary members of 4PRO in Vegas? Onesoul, duendeverde, Bobster and Snowman are their screennames. We’ve been working with them since to help arrange travel and any necessary visas as the priority, but look out soon for some introductory profiles!

They’ll be joining 4Poker founder Bryn Kenney, Francisco Benitez, Ole Schemion, Dany Rodriguez and Artur Martirosyan on the 4PRO team when they be sit down to play Day 1D of the big one and for at least one of these players, it won’t be unfamiliar territory or company! Once they’ve had time to unpack and shake off any jetlag, they’ll get themselves a tournament Masterclass from Bryn who sits number 2 on the All-Time Live Tournament Money List with almost $58m in live tournament winnings. 

While plans continue to be arranged, we thought we’d take the opportunity to get 4Poker President Heath Cram’s thoughts on our first major promotional event.

RD: Would you consider the Go4Pro $65k freeroll the biggest event you’ve run so far? How do you and the team rate 4Poker’s progress after the site’s kick-off promotional event?

HC: It was certainly a different proposition from the successful $10K buy-in, $1.25m GTD event the week prior! I’m really pleased with the work our engineers have done and the progress we’re making. For everything the site isn’t (yet), our software has been reliable and giving people a good experience. A few weeks back, we saw our first signs of any software regression, but everything was resolved and the subsequent tournaments ran very well. I was a little concerned for the field when I saw one of our High Stakes leaderboard leaders Miezekatze gobbling up a load of stacks, but that’s what happens in Freerolls - even one this valuable. Freeroll stacks definitely have a different value to people, but poker finds a way to still be that great leveller.

We were thrilled to see players from 4 different countries going all the way in a freeroll, as a platform to chase that poker dream that is a Main Event. It was equally great to see the likes of Dany Rodriguez playing on the same table as friends and site regulars, and Fran Benitez our PRO making such a deep run. 

RD: What does “good” look like from here for the event, and the qualifiers?

HC: I could say making the money or reaching the final table, but really it’s allabout the experience and any ITM showing would be an amazing result. Whether you play 1, 2 or 6 days of the Main Event, we want to give the qualifiers a good experience. For full disclosure, one of the qualifiers is actually a former colleague and very good friend of mine! We’re really happy to be able to provide a place for people in the industry to play. I remember back in the day at PokerStars before there was an official sponsor of the WSOP Main, we had a mutual agreement with 888 that our staff could qualify on their site, and 888 staff on PokerStars. Things have moved on a bit from there, but our motto is “If it’s good for Poker, we’ll do it”. We think that putting on a freeroll available to our early supporters and adopters is great for poker, as is seeing someone from within the poker industry who has devoted their own life to the game and its players, the chance to compete.

RD: Why don’t we see more industry people prominent in the poker scene?

HC: ­I would say for a couple of reasons. The first one being when you work so close to the product and you can’t play on your own site, and usually don’t have that much spare time to play. Working behind the scenes in the poker world can be fun and fulfilling, but it’s also full on. Ultimately, industry people have no option but to be recreational/casual, even though there’s many great players. 

I did feel by the end of my own time at PokerStars I’d got further away from the game, its players and the product than I’d have liked, but am now reengaging with the game. We all feel like players at 4Poker because it’s our sole focus: we’re here to create a site for players, by players. PokerStars send staff to Live Events for both work and reward. I’ve always thought it’s one of the single best things done for anyone in the industry. You get the chance to experience real poker and to engage with customers and fellow players. Getting to send a fellow industry member not just to work, but play in the biggest event on the calendar is an added bonus, but we’re going to be pulling for all 4 of our qualifiers from Amateur to Industry professional, to Pro player!

RD: Any learnings from the event and what you might do differently in future big freerolls? 

HC: I’d reconsider the qualification criteria for such an event and also auto-registration, but we did what we could within our current product capabilities. It was tricky to say how big a field we’d have for this event after just a couple of months of our BETA soft-launch but knew we were likely to be competing for a sizeable group of players’ time, not just them playing at GG or Stars but with a lot of our High Roller players already making their way to Vegas. We definitely want to send more players to events and to support live poker, to give 4Poker players the chance to chase their poker dreams. We’re always open to player feedback on improvements we can make, so the question would be better steered towards participants.

What would your own advice be now to our four qualifiers?

HC: As a recreational enthusiast myself, the Main Event is still on my own bucket list! I’d say; try to sleep well, have a good breakfast, and listen to our Pros - so you can make it last as long as you can. 

This experience brings an unusual qualifier opportunity because they’re all also getting some time with one of the better tournament brains of the modern era. Bryn Kenney is going to sit down with them ahead of the Main Event and share his own thoughts. It’s definitely an extraordinary value-add to the package! 

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Rick Dacey has been in the poker industry for two decades as a journalist, marketeer, corporate comms man, and enthusiastic player. He's now helping out at 4Poker HQ.