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Optibet Head of Poker Maksims Gorbacs Excited for Qualifiers to The Festival Series
Optibet is one of the prestigious online poker partners of The Festival Series. The online operator is one of the most trusted brands in the Baltic region.
The company was acquired by Enlabs AB which was subsequently acquired by Entain, the parent company of partypoker and other gaming brands.
Enlabs Head of Poker Maksims Gorbacs shared with The Festival Series that it is exciting for poker players to have the chance to win a €1,600 package to The Festival Series Tallinn from June 27 to July 3 at Olympic Park Casino and the Hilton Tallinn Park.
With live poker on hold at the moment in Latvia, it was important for Gorbacs to allow Optibet players a chance to travel somewhere to play live poker with flexibility. This means, in addition to The Festival Series Tallinn and The Festival Series Bratislava, satellite winners can also potentially decide to play in other big live poker events. The Sunday satellites do cost €150 but you don’t need to pay that much with feeder tournaments starting at just a penny. This point wasn’t lost on Optibet.
“We share with our players that from one cent you can get to get a full life event package for two and you can travel to another country and everything will be covered,” Gorbacs said in an exclusive interview with The Festival Series. “So, it's nice for our players.”
This is especially true in Gorbacs’s home country of Latvia, one of the two big markets Optibet services as there are still no poker tournaments in the post-COVID environment in Latvia.
This isn’t all that Gorbacs shared with The Festival Series. Read on to learn more about how Gorbacs went from a bartender to the Head of Poker at Enlabs due to his interest in poker.
From a Bartender to Poker
Gorbacs was a student when his love for poker came to life. He describes 2008 WSOP Main Event Runner-Up Ivan Demidov as his inspiration for poker and a way many can relate to Chris Moneymaker when a poker boom took place around the world after he won the 2003 WSOP Main Event.
“I worked as a bartender when I was at the university and the parallel just found some kinds of articles on the internet about poker, Gorbacs began. “It was 2008 and there was a feeling of inspiration for the many players in the Baltics due to a Russian player (Ivan Demidov) who finished in second place in WSOP Main Event. At this point, there was huge hype around the CIS markets because we have many Russians. They read about the player in general and I was shocked like ‘Oh my God, some player can want to win millions in poker. How is this possible and what is this?’”
From there, Gorbacs passion for poker came to life.
“I then tried to get more information about the game and am now starting to play on Betsafe,” said Gorbacs. “They will say they were on the Ongame Network and it was one of the best networks I have ever seen. They had many nice cozy tournaments and structures and some satellites to live events. It was a new life for me. I was shocked that I could go to a nice country such as Malta, or Austria, and play a live tournament, potentially win money, and everything is covered. You can take your friend or girlfriend and visit some nice country as well. And traveling around was like a dream life and I'm starting to play was starting to play poker more.”
Poker Gets Harder
Playing poker as a recreational player, whether profitable or not, is what poker is all about for most players. Playing professionally is a different matter. It isn’t all glamour for many and some stress, especially during downswings, can take its toll. Gorbacs shared his personal experiences as a short-term pro.
“Eventually, I traveled to Asia with a few friends during the wintertime and I played poker online,” Gorbacs shared. “I was a professional player for five years and lived from poker earnings. But the last two years before I finished with poker as a professional, earning money from poker for me is harder and harder. I tried to improve my game by reading articles and watching poker training videos. And I came back from Asia. And I decided to start to change my life. I was alone. It's also a bit hard, because you know, like, hard to find the girl when you always travel a lot, but you cannot cover expenses for the two people. It was also hard to explain to the new people, what you do for business because most people think that you're playing casino games.”
Ideal Job in Poker
Despite Gorbacs leaving poker as a player, he found the dream job utilizing his poker experience to the benefit of both poker players and Enlabs.
“I found out that Optibet was hiring a poker manager,” Gorbacs shared. “I didn't have experience before. For sure at that level, I knew that. But I knew the product and I could explain and understand what really players needs need. And I tried to go to the interview, it was successful, they hired me. My mission was to do something with Best Poker because it was bad with bad conditions without promotions, without the normal text on the site, and with a poor overall design. So, I started to change it and to understand how the network works. It was a really nice time for me, I got a lot of experience from the other side as a player. And now I'm the guy who is making the game.”
As the Head of Poker, Gorbacs had many interesting challenges. Not only did he need to learn the GGPoker Network, but also had two major migrations after that with the company moving first to the iPoker Network before landing at its current long-term home at the partypoker Network.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds as each network has its own intricacies that have to be moved. Player balances not only need to be moved but promotions and VIP systems also need to be migrated. New mobile apps need to be synced and new corporate cultures need to be adapted. Gorbacs never said it was easy but at the end of the day the integration went smooth for the players, which is always a sign of a job well done.
We look forward to seeing Maksims at The Festival Series while also welcoming the Optibet qualifiers from the Baltic regions.