It’s Time to Induct Isai Scheinberg into the Poker Hall of Fame
The Poker Hall of Fame isn’t complete, and dare I say isn’t legitimate until Isai Scheinberg is inducted.
Thanks to writer Simon Young for allowing me to be included in this terrific article which makes an irrefutable case for Isai Scheinberg’s long-overdue induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Here are some quotes I provided in support of Isai’s induction, a few of which were included in the article:
“Isai Scheinberg has been one of the most impactful people in the history of poker. With the phenomenal growth of PokerStars, the company he created and ran for more than a decade, Isai is directly responsible for introducing the game to millions of new players, especially in countries where poker wasn’t known before. From the outset, PokerStars has been the industry leader — with the very best software and a well-deserved reputation for excellence in customer service Isai didn’t just believe in being the biggest, he always wanted to be the best — and he succeeded beyond everyone’s imagination. Today, poker is much bigger and broader and better for the immense contributions Isai has made to the game.”
“It’s not often that someone who has revolutionized business and changed an entire culture also happens to be inherently fair-minded and generous. Think about how rare those qualities are at the top of pyramids. In fact, we have come to expect that great thinkers and innovators will be failures in their personal lives, despised by those who worked for them as if greed and self-absorption are the prerequisites for becoming rich and successful. Not so with Isai. The stories of Isai’s kindness, encouragement, inspiration to others, and spirit of giving are innumerable, especially within PokerStars and to the many outside charitable initiatives he launched. Yet, Isai never sought out the spotlight, nor took any credit. He lifted up all of us and made everyone around him better. That’s the mark of a great leader.”
“While Isai owned PokerStars, no detail was ever too small for his personal attention. Not even the smallest minutia of day-to-day operations went unnoticed. Even when his company was threatened and he personally faced legal problems after UIGEA (due to laws written in the previous century that don’t apply to the modern computer age), Isai’s hands-on micromanagement style never waned. For instance, he demanded that every single employee at PokerStars, including executives, spend some time each week to deal directly with player issues and problems. That requirement kept us very much in touch with the heartbeat of what made PokerStars so successful, the players. Incredibly, Isai himself also did this. I’m sure there were cases of free play-money players who wrote into customer support concerned about their faux point balances who had no idea the customer agent on the other end of an email was in fact the owner of the world’s largest online poker site, Isai Scheinberg.”
“What did I love most about working with Isai at PokerStars? Simple answer: Isai always encouraged us to think really, really big and try the impossible. No idea was dumb. Nothing constructive was discouraged. All comments in discussions were welcome. He wanted everyone’s opinion and he demanded honesty. Isai didn’t necessarily accept the ideas and opinions we had but he always wanted us to share them. In a growing organization, that kind of encouragement in infinitely powerful.”
“When I look at the Poker Hall of Fame, which I was a major part of for 25 years as a former executive with Binion’s Horseshoe, Harrahs, Caesars, and the WSOP, and later a voting media member, the question I must ask is this: Where are the pioneers of the online sector? Online poker has made more contributions to the game in the last two decades than any other entity and is almost entirely responsible for what was known as “the poker boom” circa 2003-2009. Isn’t it way past time to honor the person who made one of the biggest contributions to poker of anyone in history? Seriously, the Poker Hall of Fame isn’t complete, and dare I say isn’t legitimate until Isai Scheinberg is inducted.”
Note: Just to be clear, Caesars’ oversight of the Poker Hall of Fame is an appalling example of mismanagement and gross negligence. I told myself I’d never comment again on the PHOF given the recent history of how things are run. However, Isai is a very special circumstance and if there’s any way I can contribute to his inclusion, I’ll do it. I have no regard for the PHOF other than the simple fact his inclusion is the right thing to do.