Poker Hall of Famer, World Series of Poker bracelet winner, and inventor of the hole card cam Henry Orenstein passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 98.
President of PokerGO and close friend of Orenstein, Mori Eskandani, confirmed Orenstein’s passing to PokerGO News.
Orenstein won the $5,000 seven card stud event at the 1996 WSOP, but he left his mark on the poker world thanks to his invention of the hole card camera, which was just one of his hundreds of patents. The invention was critical in making poker more popular as it allowed viewers of televised poker to see a player’s hole cards, which ultimately made the broadcasts more interesting.
Orenstein believed that although there would ultimately be plenty of pushback from professionals, the broadcasts needed to reveal the player’s holdings, or it would be too boring for anyone to really enjoy.
It was a belief that he believed even in non-televised situations. The game was just more fun when everyone knew the hole cards.
In a short film about Orenstein produced by PokerGO, Eskandani said that during some of their seven card stud sessions at Los Angeles casinos, Orenstein would try to peek at everyone’s hole cards after they folded.
His invention was first used in England during BBC’s Late Night Poker broadcasts. Combined with Chris Moneymaker’s historic victory in the 2003 WSOP main event, Orenstein’s hole card camera was a key catalyst in the modern-day poker boom. It was one of the major reasons he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. He is also a member of the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.
Aside from the hole card camera, Orenstein was the creator and an executive producer of Poker Superstars, a tournament series that ran on Fox Sports and was part of the production team for High Stakes Poker.
He was born in Poland in 1923 and immigrated to the United States with two of his siblings after surviving the Holocaust. Both of his parents and two other siblings passed away in the Nazi-run concentration camps.
Once in the U.S., Orenstein was initially successful in the toy industry. Former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld described Orenstein as “the catalyst” that brought the Transformers into existence. He is survived by his wife, Susie.