For another year, Bluff Magazine has published its annual list of 20 most influential people in the poker world of 2011 and the top 2 spots are occupied by Canadians. The Bluff Power 20 considers activities that have impacted the poker world in 2011 and the list includes poker players, industry executives and influencers as well as politicians.
2011 was a radical year for the poker industry. Many changes have taken place mostly fueled by the shut down of three of the largest poker sites and the related side effects followed by promise and talk of regulation in the United States and a fragmented European Union as individual EU countries seek to regulate internet gambling within their borders.
The events of April 15, 2011 known in the poker world as Black Friday, where three of the largest US-player facing poker rooms had their domains and bank accounts seized as well as a series of indictments against the persons associated with the companies, among them PokerStars founder and Canadian Isai Scheinberg, has sent shockwaves in the industry that will be felt for years.
Despite the indictment against him for breaking the UIGEA, Bluff’s Power 20 List recognizes Isai Scheinberg as the most influential man in poker. Unlike the other poker rooms that received indictments and who have still not settled with player payments, Mr. Scheinberg’s PokerStars has handled the matter professionally by making arrangements with the DOJ to ensure that all American players were paid all monies owed to them while at the same time providing reassurance to international customers. To add to the list of accolades, the company has managed to secure gaming licenses in France, Italy, Estonia, Denmark, Malta and Belgium and despite the setbacks, continue to dominate in terms of online poker traffic while expanding their many live poker tournament offerings throughout the continents.
Scheinberg was listed as number two on last year’s list, taking over the top spot of 2010’s most powerful from Howard Lederer, who is currently under fire by many of his peers.
At number 2 is another Canadian originally from Toronto, Jim Ryan, the Co-CEO of bwin.party who operate Party Poker. With the fall of Full Tilt, Party Poker has taken over the spot as 2nd most active poker network but is still miles apart from PokerStars in terms of player traffic. But the CEO of what was once the world’s largest poker site when online poker was starting to boom, has managed to pull off a major coup signing a partnership deal with MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming to facilitate an entry back into the US market whilst managing to keep a 65% share of the US facing business. It seemed like a natural fit seeing that among other things, Party own the World Poker Tour and several WPT stops take place at the Bellagio and Borgata, casinos owned by MGM and Boyd. Sources tell us that Jim had some behind the scenes help from another Canadian in sealing the partnership.
Other Canadians in the list are Mitch Garber, the CEO of Caesars Entertainment at number 4 and the only poker player to make the list Daniel Negreanu at number 9.
Here is the full 2011 Bluff Power 20 List:
#1 Isai Scheinberg
#2 – Jim Ryan
#3 – Sen. Harry Reid
United States Senator (D-NV)
Senate Majority Leader
#4 – Mitch Garber
CEO, Caesars Interactive Entertainment
#5 – Preet Bharara
U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
#6 – Ty Stewart
Executive Director, World Series of Poker
Vice President, Caesars Interactive Entertainment
#7 – Gary Loveman
CEO and President, Caesars Entertainment Corporation
#8 – Mark Lipparelli
Chairman, Nevada State Gaming Control Board
#9 – Daniel Negreanu
Professional Poker Player
#10 – Mark Pincus
CEO & Co-founder, Zynga
#11 – Tony G
#12 – Dominik Kofert
#13 – Bernard Tapie
Groupe Bernard Tapie
#14 – Brian Balsbaugh
Founder, Poker Royalty
#15 – Matt Savage
Executive Tour Director, World Poker Tour
Tournament Director, Epic Poker League
#16 – Rep. Joe Barton
United States Congressman (Texas)
#17 – Sen. Jon Kyl
United States Senator (R-Arizona)
Senate Minority Whip
#18 – Annie Duke
Commissioner, Epic Poker League
#19 – Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta
#20 – Virginia Seitz
Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel