Henry Orenstein, the inventor who brought the hole card camera to the poker world and forever changed the way the game is watched, passed away at the age of 98 on Tuesday morning. Orenstein revolutionized the way poker fans around the world watch the game when he invented a way for a player’s hole cards to broadcast into the homes of millions.
A Holocaust survivor, Orenstein was born in Poland in 1923. Orenstein and his family were held in five concentration camps. Orenstein’s parents were killed in 1942, and two of his siblings died in concentration camps. Orenstein and two of his brothers, Fred and Sam, were able to survive. Orenstein registered himself and his siblings as scientists and mathematicians. Not knowing what the decision would truly mean, Orenstein felt it was best to gamble on the outcome. Although one of his brothers and his sister passed away while in the concentration camps, Orenstein and two of his brothers were able to survive before emigrating to the U.S.
In the U.S., Orenstein found success in the toy business. He is credited with bringing the Transformers to his then employer Hasbro and holds more than 100 patents, including that of poker’s hole card camera. To Orenstein, televised poker was far too boring to exist without being able to see a player’s cards. As an avid poker player, Orenstein set out to increase excitement and interest in the game to the viewing audience, and he solved it by inventing the hole card camera. BBC’s Late Night Poker was the first televised poker show to feature the hole card camera. The invention took off and took the poker world by storm, instantly transforming the game into what you see on TV today.
Orenstein was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. He was also inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1996, Orenstein won the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud tournament at the World Series of Poker for $130,000.
Orenstein is survived by his wife, Susie.
Orenstein’s passing was confirmed by his good friend and President of PokerGO, Mori Eskandani.
Learn more about Orenstein inventing poker’s hole card camera by watching PokerGO’s “Stories from the Felt: The Big Reveal.”