Each year, over the past eight years, Bluff Magazine publishes a list of the top 20 most influential people in the poker industry known as the Bluff Power 20. This year’s list includes a number of persons from poker player, politicians, corporate CEOs, and so forth.
Canadians continue to dominate in the ever changing industry by holding the top spots on this list which is conducted by a poll of 60 people comprised of poker journalists, online and land-based operators, players and members of previous Power 20s in an attempt to accurately gauge who the real movers and shakers are.
Mitch Garber #2
At the number two position is Montrealer Mitch Garber of Caesars Interactive Entertainment who also own the World Series of Poker brand, considered the Super Bowl of the poker world. At one time, Mitch was a gaming attorney based in Montreal, then moved on to take the helm of payment provider Optimal Payments who owned egaming wallet Firepay, and then moved on to take the helm of Party Gaming for a short while during one of the roughest periods in the poker industry when UIEGA was enacted in the United States.
Over the past four years, as the CEO of Caesars Interactive, part of Las Vegas giant Caesars (then Harrahs), Mitch has steered the company’s interactive efforts to strategically position the company and its flagship WSOP brand for an eventual legalization of online poker in the United States. He has made acquisitions that would see the company become a player in social gaming, expanded worldwide partnerships for the WSOP brand, as well as launch a WSOP online site in the United Kingdom.
However, his biggest challenge is ahead with intrastate legalization imminent in several U.S. states starting with Nevada this past week. Will he be able to make the WSOP the number #1 online poker brand against strong competition? Challengers like MGM Resorts have partnered with bwin.party and PokerStars ships are set to land in New Jersey. In addition to those rivals, a slew of other challengers entering the real money poker market such as Zynga and of course the government lotteries will also pose a threat to his plans of a U.S. market domination.
Isai and Mark Scheinberg #1
At the top of the chart is the Scheinberg Family of PokerStars, former Toronto residents, who now own the top two online poker rooms online with the purchase of Full Tilt Poker based on the Isle of Man.
PokerStars are said to control some 70% of the online poker market worldwide and hold gambling licenses in several countries where they dominate as the number one brand, all except in France where they are number two.
The company is armed with a war chest of wealth said to be in the billions accumulated over the past few years and is now cementing themselves into brick and mortar business by buying up casinos and opening up PokerStars branded cardrooms around the world. With a string of internationally acclaimed poker tournaments that draw the large tournament series such as the EPT, PCA, LAPT, APPT to participating casinos, it can be argued that PokerStars in a way have already set their dominance in the land based space on five continents. The purchase of select casinos is appears merely a formality.
After a settlement with the DoJ, the company’s sights are now set back on the U.S. poker market, where their brand is forever etched in the minds of online poker players who are eagerly awaiting their return to the land of the free to play real money poker online.
Daniel Negreanu #6
In number 6 position, the most influential professional poker player on the planet is Daniel Negreanu of Toronto. He is considered one of the most accomplished and respected poker players of all time. He is definitely one of the most outspoken pros and often very vocal through his interviews, video blogs, and via Twitter where he has more than 226 thousand followers.
Daniel is also considered the main face of PokerStars globally.
Guy Laliberté #17
The billionaire owner of Cirque du Soleil turned philanthropist and high stakes poker player, Guy founded the One Drop Charity and made world headlines when he announced the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament at the 2011 Main Event final table. The richest tournament ever played attracted a sold out 48 player field and $48 million prize pool with $5.3 million of it raised for charity.
The event was a huge success and the largest charitable initiative associated to poker.
Here is the full 2013 Bluff Power 20 List. Four out of the twenty or 20% are Canadians. It would have been 5 if bwin.party Co-CEO Jim Ryan had not recently retired back to Toronto. Canadians continue to be a driving force in poker.
#1 – Mark and Isai Scheinberg – Founding Family, PokerStars
#2 – Mitch Garber – CEO, Caesars Interactive Entertainment / WSOP
#3 – Norbert Teufelberger – CEO, bwin.party
#4 – Harry Reid – Nevada Senator, Senate Majority Leader
#5 – Ty Stewart – Executive Director, WSOP/Senior Vice President, Caesars Interactive Entertainment
#6 – Daniel Negreanu – Professional Poker Player
#7 – Gary Loveman – President & CEO, Caesars Entertainment Corporation
#8 – Mark Pincus – Founder and CEO, Zynga
#9 – Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta – Co-Founders, Fertitta Interactive
#10 – A.G. Burnett – Chairman, Nevada Gaming Control Board
#11 – Raymond Lesniak – New Jersey State Senator
#12 – Chris Christie – New Jersey Governor
#13 – Tony G – Owner, PokerNews.com
#14 – Brian Balsbaugh – Founder, PokerRoyalty
#15 – Dominik Kofert – CEO, PokerStrategy.com
#16 – Edgar Stuchly – President, European Poker Tour
#17 – Guy Laliberté – Founder, One Drop
#18 – Steve Heller – CEO, World Poker Tour
#19 – Matt Savage – Executive Tour Director, World Poker Tour; Tournament Director, Various Tours/Events
#20 – Antonio Esfandiari – Professional Poker Player