98-year-old Henry Orenstein, the creator of the hole card camera, died on Tuesday morning at his home in New Jersey, and the cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Orenstein’s intention of bringing the audience into the game of poker by using the camera to expose players’ hole cards was a key to the poker boom that transformed how the game is perceived today.
Orenstein designed and patented the hole card camera in 1995. Initially met with opposition and apathy from television executives, Orenstein’s breakthrough product had to wait until 1999 when the BBC’s Late Night Poker show was the first to accept and use the hole-card camera.
Orenstein was born in the Polish town of Hrubieszów in 1923 and was a survivor of the Holocaust. In World War II, Orenstein and his family escaped to a town nearby and hid in secret spots inside double walls until they were forced to surrender due to water and food shortage.
Orenstein and his siblings listed themselves as scientists and mathematicians as a survival tactic during the war. In 1942, Orenstein’s parents were killed, and two of his siblings perished in detention camps. Luckily Orenstein and two of his brothers survived in concentration camps. Orenstein immigrated to the United States in 1947 after surviving the Holocaust.
Orenstein gained success in the toy industry after moving to the United States. As a Hasbro employee, he is credited for introducing Transformers to the company, and he possesses more than 100 patents.
Orenstein was also a decent poker player. His eighth-place finish in the 1995 World Series of Poker Main Event earned him $51,900. Orenstein won his maiden and only WSOP bracelet in 1996 after emerging victorious in the $5000 Limit Seven Card Stud and earned $130,000 for his win.
For his groundbreaking concept and unwavering commitment to the game of poker, Orenstein was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. He has also made contributions to the rehabilitation section at Ra’anana’s Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital and the establishment of safe housing for Holocaust survivors in Kiryat Ono, among other things.
Susie, Orenstein’s wife, survives him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Orenstein’s wife, Susie, and the rest of his loved ones. May Orenstein Rest in Peace.
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