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

He started playing in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. His game was Seven-Card Stud, in which four cards are face up and three face down, or hole cards, and only the holder of the hand can see them. Watching a poker tournament on television, he realized that the excitement he felt while playing was not transmitted.

“He said, ‘This is not the game we played,'” Mori Eskandani, a professional poker player who produces television poker shows, said in an interview. “If everyone could see the hole cards they would see how awesome it is. “

Mr Orenstein spent six months developing a table with miniature cameras mounted under each player’s station – cutouts with anti-glare glass that allowed cameras to look up – that would show hole cards and transmit footage on the television. He patented his idea for a hole card camera in 1995 and got his first client a few years later when the Discovery Channel fired him for their “World Poker Tour”.

“We called the table ‘the holy grail,’ said Mr. Eskandani.

Besides his wife, Mr. Orenstein is survived by 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 tournament – coaxed Jon Miller, an NBC Sports executive, to use the camera table with hole cards. in the “Poker Superstars”, “Poker After Dark” and “National Heads-Up Poker Championship” network programs.

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

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