Henry Orenstein, 98, passed away; Force Behind Transformers and Poker on TV

He started playing in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. His play was seven-card stud, where four face up cards and three face down are cards, or hole cards, and only the holder of the hand can see them. While watching a televised poker tournament, he realized that the excitement he felt while playing was not being conveyed.

“He said, ‘This is not the game we played,'” Mori Eskandani, a professional poker player who produces television poker programs, said in an interview. “‘If everyone can see the hole cards, they’d see how great it is.'”

Mr. Orenstein spent six months developing a table of miniature cameras mounted under each player’s station — glare-free glass cutouts that allowed the cameras to look upwards — that would display the hole cards and broadcast the images on television. to broadcast. He patented his idea of ​​a hole-card camera in 1995 and got his first client a few years later when the Discovery Channel licensed it for its “World Poker Tour.”

“We called the table ‘the Holy Grail,'” said Mr. Eskandani.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Orenstein has a son, Mark, and a daughter, Annette. His marriage to Adele Bigajer, whom he met in a displaced persons camp in Germany, ended in divorce.

In 2003, Mr. Orenstein — a competitive player who won the 1996 World Series of Poker seven-card stud tournament — urged Jon Miller, a director of NBC Sports, to use the hole-card camera table in the network’s programming. “Poker Superstars”, “Poker After Dark” and “National Heads-Up Poker Championship”.

“He revolutionized the game for a whole generation of poker fans who couldn’t see it as it is without Henry’s creativity and ingenuity,” said Mr. Miller, the president of programming for the NBC Sports Group, in an interview.

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