Posts Tagged ‘Isai Scheinberg’

Inside the Early Days of PokerStars’ Marketing and Insane Budget

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

chris-moneymaker-pokerstars-marketingThese days, PokerStars doesn’t need as much help in the branding department, given that anybody who googles “online poker” will find them on the front page. Furthermore, their reputation and player base dwarf the rest of the market. But like all companies, they were once a little-known brand looking to establish themselves against larger competitors.

However, while PokerStars was short on name recognition in the early 2000s, they were certainly not short on money. Through a very interesting blog post, marketer and poker player Dan Goldman explains his experiences with Stars. Some of the interesting topics that he covers in his blog post include how well-funded Isai Scheinberg’s company was in the beginning, Goldman’s strong belief in Chris Moneymaker and Ben Affleck’s insane demands.

First off, Goldman created a marketing budget for Stars’ first year and told Scheinberg that he’d need $600,000 for year one. Without hesitating, Scheinberg quickly said, “We have the money we need to properly launch this company.”

chris-moneymaker-billboardGoldman also convinced the PokerStars boss that they should invest $30,000 per month in six billboards around the L.A. area. The billboards (see right), featured Chris Moneymaker and read, “How he became a Moneymaker. – Where Poker Players become World Champions.” Scheinberg needed some convincing, instead thinking their money would best be spent on direct response ads, but he eventually caved. And the billboards actually became a huge success.

As for Affleck, Scheinberg wanted Goldman to get him on a cruise ship where Stars would be sponsoring a World Poker Tour event. Initially, Affleck wanted a $1 million appearance fee, which Scheinberg had no trouble with. However, his list of demands grew to the point where he needed to be flown onto the ship, which would require a special permit from Homeland Security. They couldn’t get the permit so, much to Goldman’s relief, the Affleck thing fizzled out and he didn’t have to spend $1.4 million total (or more) on the movie star.

Anyways, the entire post is quite good and there are more stories from Goldman in the blog.

Will Amaya Gaming finally get PokerStars in the US?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

The big poker news today – and it’s colossal – is that Amaya Gaming has made a deal with the Rational Group to buy PokerStars, Full Tilt and live tournament tour assets for $4.9 billion. For years people have speculated about the worth of PokerStars and now they know.

One of the key points of this deal is that Isai Scheinberg and his son, Mark, relinquish their shares in the company and ride off into the sunset with billions. The reason why this part of the deal is so big is because it means that PokerStars might finally be able to enter the elusive United States market.

The legal US online poker market is fully underway, with Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada all featuring regulated gaming sites. And so far, PokerStars’ attempts to enter these states have went like this:

Delaware – Stars was denied because Delaware is mainly looking for companies that offer both casino and poker games.

New Jersey – Review of PokerStars’ application has been suspended for two years in the Garden State.

Nevada – Nevada evoked the “bad actor” clause to prevent Stars from entering their market for at least 10 years.

The key point behind PokerStars’ bad actor status in Nevada is that they violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Moreover, the Scheinberg’s retained ownership of the Rational Group after they’d violated the UIGEA.

But now we have Amaya running the show at PokerStars. The Canadian supplier of gambling equipment has no ties to Black Friday, meaning it’s hard to use the bad actor excuse to keep them out.

Of course, despite what state gaming regulatory bodies may say, this is all about anti-competitiveness and helping in-state casinos get off to a strong start. So no matter how illogical it seems, certain US states may still try to call upon PokerStars’ past to keep them out, even though an entirely different company is now in charge.

As for Amaya, it’s likely that they were willing to spend $4.9 billion on Rational’s assets because they know there’s even more potential for Stars IF they can get into the US.

Next Stop for PokerStars: The State of New York

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Not long ago, the Rational Group was dealt another crushing defeat in America, when New Jersey decided to suspend review of their online gaming application for two more years. The stated reason why is that they don’t like Isai Scheinberg’s involvement with Rational, or his unresolved case with the US Department of Justice. The real reason why is because Atlantic City casinos don’t want to compete against Rational’s crown jewel, PokerStars, in the online poker market.

So is Rational sitting around crying with their head in their hands? No, they’re already hot on the trail of getting licensed in another American state: New York.

Now, if you know your legal internet gaming in the United States, you realize that only Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada offer regulated online markets. But after a state vote created a seven-casino project, PokerStars feels that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire state of New York have gambling fever.

They’ve since sent lobbyists to the Empire State in hopes of working on Cuomo and other New York politicians. According to, these lobbying efforts have already produced results. Here is a look at one key excerpt that wrote about the matter:

It looks like at least Cuomo’s legal team is on Rational’s side; New York law firm Cozen O’Connor‘s rep Stuart Shorenstein had the ear of Bennet Liebman, who is acting as the Governor’s chief advisor on all things gambling these days. According to Shorenstein, it’s now “a good time for an open architecture”; in other words, since you’re opening all these brick-and-mortar casinos, why not add the Internet to the pot? According to a Cuomo spokesman, the governor has taken no official stance on this proposition at this time.

Seeing as how New York’s state government hasn’t even opened serious discussion on the matter of online gaming, there’s no telling when or if it will become a reality. Even still, it’s obvious that PokerStars is on the forefront of the internet gaming movement in New York.