Online Poker Pioneer Isai Scheinberg Plays WSOP Main Event for the First Time

While participants of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event were treated to the surprising entry of ex-Manchester City Sergio Aguero, there was another shock Main Event debut that flew under the radar.

Online poker pioneer and co-founder of PokerStars Isai Scheinberg quietly entered poker’s crown jewel tournament on Day 2abc and navigated his way through the field, ending the session with a stack of 62,000. He returns to the felt at 12 p.m. for Day 3.

Scheinberg’s participation in the Main Event is quite a shock due to the fact that he is very rarely spotted at the poker table. Despite being an industry leader, Scheinberg never wanted to hog the spotlight and has been described as a private person. Amazingly, he has only ever given one interview to the poker media, and that was back in 2021 with Lance Bradley.

However, over the last few months, Scheinberg has been getting the recognition he deserves from some of poker’s biggest brands.

In December 2022, Scheinberg was told that he would honored by the World Poker Tour and receive the 2022 WPT Honors Award alongside long-time broadcaster Vince Van Patten. Their induction for the WPT Honors Awards also takes place tonight.

He is also a nominee to become the 2023 Poker Hall of Fame inductee, with six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, a former PokerStars ambassador during the company’s Scheinberg-led days, in his corner as one of his most vocal supporters.

Isai Scheinberg’s Recorded Live Cashes

Date Event Place Prize (USD)
October 2014 £2,200 UKIPT High Roller 1st $22,253
April 2008 €1,700 NLH EPT Monte Carlo 8th $18,039
December 1998 $1,000 Limit Hold’em 8th $2,010
May 1996 WSOP $2,500 NLH 25th $3,337

Scheinberg’s Legacy in Online Poker

Isai Scheinberg
Isai Scheinberg

Scheinberg’s introduction to the world of poker came in the late 1990s when he started developing software for online poker games. Recognizing the potential of online poker, he co-founded PokerStars in 2001, along with his son Mark Scheinberg. Under Scheinberg’s leadership as the CEO, PokerStars quickly rose to prominence and became a dominant force in the online poker industry.

PokerStars differentiated itself by offering a user-friendly platform, a wide range of game options, and innovative features that appealed to poker enthusiasts around the globe. Scheinberg’s focus on providing a secure and fair gaming experience, combined with aggressive marketing strategies as well as industry-leading customer support, helped PokerStars attract a large player base and achieve unprecedented success.

However, Scheinberg’s tenure at PokerStars was not without its challenges. In 2011, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Scheinberg and other PokerStars executives on charges related to illegal online gambling, money laundering, and bank fraud. This is commonly referred to as Black Friday in the poker community.

The charges stemmed from PokerStars’ continued operation in the US market following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.

Scheinberg faced extradition to the United States and spent several years navigating the legal process. In 2012, he surrendered to US authorities in New York and later reached a settlement with the DOJ. In 2014, the Scheinberg family sold PokerStars to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion. Scheinberg resolved his legal issues in 2020.

Name Surname
Calum Grant

Editor & Live Reporter

Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.

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