03/02/2012 : POKER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Bluff Magazine's Power 20 list revealed
Online poker publisher Bluff Magazine has unveiled its latest Power 20 list of the most influential people in the poker business internationally, as assessed by 51 poker industry insiders ranging from online operators, casino executives, media, players, agents and other opinion makers.
This year's list at http://news.bluffmagazine.com/the-2012-bluff-power-20-pokers-most-influential-people-26246/ notes the impact of Black Friday, and the changes it has wrought in the industry; the list contains some surprising names.
The name at the top of the list is certainly not unexpected – Isai Scheinberg as founder of Pokerstars, the world's biggest online poker operator, has been repeatedly in the news as his company negotiates the obstacles and challenges thrown in its path by US enforcement authorities and continues to dominate the industry.
At the other end of the scale, in twentieth position is a name that was not all that familiar to most in the business….until December 2011 when Virginia Seitz, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel announced that the US Department of Justice has had it all wrong these past few decades in defining online gambling as illegal in terms of the Wire Act, which was dedicated to stamping out sports betting in the era of the telephone.
Anti-online gambling may no longer completely characterise Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who sits at 17 on the Bluff list with the citation: "Flashback to as recently as 2010 and you’ll see Sen. Jon Kyl described as “anti-gaming” largely due to his role in seeing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act pushed into law in 2006. The Senator however has changed his tune as of late and is now considered by some to be the key to getting federal online poker legalization passed in 2012."
Just ahead of him is Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas politician who has launched a federal bill in the US Congress attempting to legalise online poker.
There's understandably a French element in this year's list in the form of Bernard Tapie, head of the Groupe Bernard Tapie which is trying controversially to finalise the acquisition and resurrection of the now defunct Full Tilt Poker, a sensitive issue if there ever was one due to the millions still owed to players. Tapie sits at #13.
Dominik Kofert, the chief of the remarkably well-informed poker information portal Poker Strategy.com, is at #12 and has sprung to fame especially on its FTP reportage, but is also respected for poker strategy articles and videos.
Vying with Kofert is the high profile pro player and owner of Poker News, Tony Guoga, in the eleventh slot.
The chief of social gaming giant Zynga is on the eclectic list, along with other corporate execs like Caesar Entertainment's Gary Loveman and Mitch Garber, outspoken pro-player Daniel Negreanu and Nevada State Gaming Control Board head Mark Lipparelli – under the spotlight for much of 2011 as his state moves closer to legalised online poker.
Just making the top five is the man many US players love to hate – Preet Bharara of the US Attorney's Office for New York – he lead the Black Friday prosecutions and has definitely been an influential and widely recognised figure over the past year. His characterisation of FTP as a giant Ponzi scheme created more headlines than most inaccurate statements.
Few would quibble with the inclusion high on the list of the Democratic Senator from Nevada, Harry Reid. Despite his failure to make positive progress on legalization, Reid remains an influential political figure from who many still expect to see results.