The Story of Isai Scheinberg: A Legend of Poker and Business

Isai Scheinberg is a name that stands out in the worlds of both poker and business. As the founder of PokerStars, he revolutionized the online poker industry and cemented his place as a key figure in the game’s history. However, Scheinberg’s story is also one of legal battles and controversy, as he had to navigate the complexities of the online gambling industry.

Childhood and Early Years

Isai Scheinberg was born in Israel in 1946 and grew up in Toronto, Canada, in a family of mathematicians. His parents instilled in him a love of numbers and probability. During his college years, he discovered poker and quickly became hooked on the game.

After graduation, Scheinberg tried his hand at several businesses, such as tech and real estate development. However, poker remained a constant passion for him, and he continued to hone his skills as a player.

Developing PokerStars

In 2001, Scheinberg founded PokerStars, an online platform that allowed players from all over the world to play poker online. The website quickly grew in popularity, thanks to its user-friendly interface and innovative features.

However, building PokerStars was not without its challenges. The global online gambling industry was still in its infancy, and the legal landscape was murky and constantly evolving. Scheinberg and his team had to navigate a complex web of regulations and restrictions to keep the site running.

Despite these obstacles, PokerStars continued to grow, helped by the explosion of interest in poker in the mid-2000s. The platform became the go-to destination for players, offering a safe and reliable experience for online gaming.

Legal Issues and Controversies

However, Scheinberg’s success was not without its downside. In 2011, US authorities indicted him on charges of money laundering and fraud related to his involvement with PokerStars. The company was forced to withdraw from the US market, and Scheinberg himself became embroiled in a legal battle that lasted for years.

The controversy surrounding Scheinberg and online poker in general highlighted the challenges faced by the industry as a whole. Many critics argued that online gambling was unsafe and poorly regulated, and Scheinberg’s legal troubles only added fuel to the fire.

Life After PokerStars

Despite the challenges he faced, Scheinberg’s legacy as a pioneer of online poker is secure. Today, he is involved in several different business ventures, along with being a philanthropist, working to support causes that are essential to him.

As the online gambling industry continues to evolve, Scheinberg’s contributions to the field remain significant. Whether he is remembered as a visionary entrepreneur or a controversial figure, there is no denying his impact on the world of poker and beyond.


The story of Isai Scheinberg illustrates the challenges faced by those who seek to innovate in a rapidly-changing landscape, bridging the worlds of business and poker. From his early days as a poker enthusiast to his role as the founder of a global gaming platform, Scheinberg’s story shows perseverance, passion, and determination. His legacy serves as a reminder of the power of innovation and the critical role that entrepreneurs play in shaping the future.

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