Los Angeles, CA
Bluff Magazine released their Power 20 list of most powerful and influential people in the poker industry.
As a columnist for Bluff Magazine, I had the dubious honor of being a part of the magazine's (small) voting panel for previous Power 20 lists. They switched up the process for selecting this year's Power 20 as the panel expanded to include over 100 different opinions from esteemed members of the poker industry. Once again, I was fortunate to be on the voting panel.
Here's the results...
Bluff Magazine - 2011 Power 20
1. Howard Lederer - Consultant, Pocket Kings Limited
Deadhead. Former bookie. Poker pro. Online poker visionary. Top dog. Top gun. King of the Hill. The Godfather.
2. Isai Scheinberg - Founder, PokerStars
The hand that feeds me. I had Mr. Scheinberg occupying the top spot on my ballot. Play PokerStars.
3. Ty Stewart - Executive Director, World Series of Poker and Vice President, Caesars Interactive Entertainment
Fitting that the former high school hoops star with a wicked jump shot is #3 on the list. The head honcho at the WSOP is also the #1 executive on the list (also quite an achievement), which makes him the Top Suit in Poker.
4. Harry Reid - U.S. Senator (D-NV)
Snake Oil Salesman. Career Waffler. The sheeple are delusional for putting ANY politicians on the list. Come on, we all know that politicians don't actually have any power -- they're mere puppets for the corporate oligarchs who really run our country.
5. Brian Balsbaugh - Founder, Poker Royalty
In Hollywood terms, Balsbaugh is Richard Lovett and Poker Royalty is the CAA of poker. Heck, as soon as I'm done with my screenplay, I'm sending the first copy to Balsbaugh! If I'm being too obscure with Hollywood power broker references, how about this... Poker Royalty is the N.Y. Yankees of poker player representation.
6. Phil Ivey - The World's Best Poker Player
OK, I didn't make up that weak sauce title (see above)... it's Bluff's title, not mine. It's not much a title as an absolute truth. I don't think Ivey needs a title. I mean, on his business cards, it reads: Phil. That's it. No title. No email. No phone. Not even a last name. Just a blank card with: Phil. He's a man that does not need an introduction. Shit, he's the man. Why isn't he #1? He's a part-owner of Full Tilt and with one arm tied behind his back, he can still whoop the shit out of Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World.
7. Daniel Negreanu - Player, Team PokerStars Pro
Danny Boy wields a significant amount of influence due to his fervent popularity among the masses, not to mention the morbid fear that he instills in the industry due to his willingness to say anything, at any given time, while using multiple pulpits.
8. Mitch Garber - CEO, Caesars Interactive Entertainment
The Cigarette Smoking Man of poker. The former big wig at Party Poker remained out of the spotlight since he jointed CIE, but he's been very active behind the scenes sliding all the necessary building blocks in place for poker's New World Order.
9. Mori Eskandani - CEO, Poker PROductions
I valued TV production heavily when I filled out my original ballot. Televised poker helped manufacture consent (to butcher use a Noam Chomsky term) of the legitimacy of the industry among the populous. I included Mori (along with everyone else) because of his contributions with High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. At the same time, 441 Productions is the biggest exclusion from the 2011 Power 20. For my ballot, I included both Matt Maranz and David Swartz from 441 Productions, the crew behind the WSOP broadcasts who deserved recognition for their unique storytelling ability and shaping the current poker world through their filter/lenses.
10. Doyle Brunson - The Godfather of Poker
Doyle is not the "real" Godfather like say... Howard Lederer. But, if Howard is more like Michael Corleone, then old Texas Dolly is Vito Corleone (post-ambush) on his last licks and making funny faces with orange peels in the garden.
11. John Pappas - Executive Director, Poker Players Alliance
How could anyone make the list if they are the head of the most ineffective lobbying group on Capitol Hill (with the exception of the Pro-Clubbing of Baby Seals contingency)? Until online poker makes serious strides towards legitimization, I won't include any political types on future ballots.
12. Tom Dwan - Player, Team Full Tilt
I didn't have Durrrr on my list, but the more I think about it, the more I should have included the most fearless person in poker, who held the entire high-stakes community by the proverbial balls one sweltering night during the 2010 WSOP. It was arguably one of the most exciting moments from last summer. For more background on that tempestuous evening, check out 2010 WSOP Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine).
13. Tony G - Owner, PokerNews
The G rocketed to the upper echelon of the industry's Great Pyramid after churning out PokerNews franchises in every possible language on the planet (which consequentially allowed him to print money in every possible currency). Word on the street these days is that The G over-stretched his vast online empire after gobbling up a chunk of virtual poker real estate and spending over $23 million to train 420 flying monkeys to do chip counts at the 2011 WSOP. The G's most recent venture? Branching off into dead languages including PokerNews Mayan. Why? To gear up for the 2012 hysteria, of course.
14. Matt Savage - Executive Tour Director, World Poker Tour
One of the few good guys in poker. The media respects Savage. And poker pros friggin' love him, which is strange because poker pros usually hate everything.
15. Ray Bitar - Director, Pocket Kings LTD
The former day trader-turned-online poker entrepreneur is one of the original minds behind Full Tilt Poker. Bitar should be much much much higher up on the list.
16. Phil Hellmuth - Poker’s Most Valuable Free Agent
Peeking into souls is overrated, but the fact that Hellmuth is a "free agent" gives him a tad more juice. Plus, he presses palms and slaps backs with former Presidents. Regardless if you think he's a dick or not, the echo chamber considers Hellmuth's ego-driven brand as one of the most powerful men in all of poker. Personally, I always thought that Hellmuth was the Fredo Corleone of poker.
17. Lance Bradley - Editor in Chief, BLUFF Magazine
Wow, I actually picked Lance Bradley #17 on my ballot. I must be psychic or something. With his inclusion in the Power 20, Lance is officially the most powerful Ginga in poker.
18. Steve "Chops" Preiss - Entity, Wicked Chops Poker
The creator of Wicked Chops Poker is not just about hot chicks and snark. Chops teamed up with web-trepreneur Jason Calacanis and the Cooley brothers to launch the poker industry's most innovative product in 2010... This Week in Poker. I've already seen a few copy cats trying to replicate their format.
19. Jim Ryan - CEO, PartyGaming
Man, so sorry to Warren Lush. I voted for him over Jimbo. No offense to Jimbo, I mean, how could the poker industry turn its collective back on someone with the nickname "Fun Warren"? He should be in the Top 10 on any poker-themed list. But how about Party Poker getting a nod? Remember those guys? Well, they are still one of the biggest online gaming companies in the world despite not being able to tap into the U.S. market. Party Poker left American shores with the introduction of the UIGEA legislation. They paid a fine
shakedown moneyto the DOJ in order to be the first foreign online poker operator in line... if the federales flip the switch on the UIGEA and dole out gaming licenses.
20. Eric 'sheets' Haber and Cliff 'johnnybax' Josephy - Backers
Even though staking one of the most murky aspects of the industry, backing syndicates are a vital component to the financial survival of many players. Without third-party financing of buy-ins (both online and live), overall numbers would drop with fewer entrants. Sheets/Haber's group (the Goldman Sachs of poker) is among the most elite staking operations in the world. Remember Joe Cada's run during the 2009 WSOP Main Event? After he won, who did he hug first? That's right... Johnny Bax. His backer. His poker papa.
That's it. By the way, thanks to the gang at Bluff Magazine for including me on the voting panel.
Here's the official statement about Bluff Magazine's 2011 Power 20.