In the lead-up to Christmas 2022, the World Poker Tour announced that PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg and WPT commentator Vince Van Patten would become the latest WPT Honors Award inductees.
In this piece, we look at the journeys of these two game legends and why the WPT Honors is one of the most prestigious awards in all of gaming.
Van Patten’s legendary coverage of WPT events
Vince Van Patten has been with the World Poker Tour for its entire 20-year existence, joining in 2003. He credits his father with his love of poker today and started playing at his home in New York at just 14.
During his acting days in the 1990s, he regularly hosted a Hollywood poker game at his home, playing alongside the likes of Hollywood actors Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, and other celebrities.
Before his interest in professional poker, Van Patten was a professional tour tennis player, defeating John McEnroe in a World Super Tennis Series event and ranking as high as 26 in the world rankings.
By the mid-2000s, Van Patten was very much all-in as far as his poker career was concerned, entering various tournaments alongside his commentary gig with the WPT. In the 2010 World Series of Poker, for instance, he finished 481st in a pool of 7,319 entrants, winning $27,519 in the process. By 2020, Van Patten had won more than $100,000 in poker prize money from various tournaments.
But his demeanour and good humor behind the mic have earned Van Patten his place in the WPT hall of fame.
He has commentated on WPT events since 2003, helping live poker rise from its humble beginnings on the Travel Channel to its current position on Fox Sports Networks. He is, without doubt, the voice of WPT poker and thoroughly deserves his Honors Award as a man who helped shape televised poker into what we know and loves today.
Scheinberg and PokerStars’ success
The other recipient of the prestigious award, Isai Scheinberg, is best known for co-founding PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker site.
Scheinberg was instrumental in the poker boom era, increasing the interest in poker worldwide and offering millions of players an exceptional online poker experience.
As a senior programmer for IBM Canada, Scheinberg combined his technical skills and love of cards to pioneer the leading online poker site, which has retained its position as a market leader today.
Scheinberg took the opportunity to sell his stake in PokerStars in 2014, with the company’s total price at $4.9 billion. He decided that he wanted to commit to his many philanthropic endeavors and prefers life away from the spotlight today, despite the prominent role that he has played in making poker much more accessible to people in the United States and further afield.
One of the primary reasons the WPT recognized Scheinberg with the Honors Award is the contributions PokerStars made during the early days of WPT broadcasting, investing in marketing in the mid-2000s and the years that followed. It was said that Scheinberg always made his important business decisions based on whether or not they were in the best interests of the poker players, his customers.
Although he doesn’t appreciate the limelight, Scheinberg is a deserving winner of the Honors Award and has helped grow online poker’s popularity in immeasurable ways. Read more about Scheinberg on Poker.Org, which carried an exclusive interview with him.
What is the WPT Honors Award?
Van Patten and Scheinerg have both been open about how thrilled they are to have received the WPT Honors Award – but what is the prize exactly? Launched in 2017, the Honors Award is the Tour’s highest achievement.
It is awarded annually to members of the poker industry who have made exceptional contributions to the World Poker Tour and the growth of poker more generally. Highlighting the prominence of the award, Scheinberg and Van Patten are in great company, joining the following poker legends as award recipients:
- 2017 – Bruno Fitoussi, Linda Johnson, Mike Sexton
- 2018 – Lyle Berman, Steve Lipscomb
- 2019 – Deb Giardina, Matt Savage
The WPT is the second largest live poker organization in the United States, behind only the World Series of Poker in terms of popularity and prize money. You can catch live WPT events on Fox throughout the season, with the legendary Vince Van Patten behind the mic to guide you through the coverage.