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The Prolific Henry Orenstein

The trivia question for January 13 was, “Who invented the ‘hole cam’?” The answer to that is Henry Orenstein, inventor, philanthropist and poker player extraordinaire.

Born in Poland in 1925, Orenstein emigrated to the US after the end of WWII. He currently resides in Verona, New Jersey.

In addition to inventing the hole camera—that nifty little gadget that lets us see the players’ hidden cards during broadcasted poker games—Orenstein is the man to thank for the existence of Transformer toys. He also holds over 100 patents for numerous other inventions.

In 1996, one year after he was granted his patent for the hole camera, he won the WSOP $5,000 Seven-card Stud Tournament beating out 4 top professional players. At the young age of 80, he won his first round of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, beating out Chip Reese. As of 2009, his live poker winnings exceeded $200,000.

But Henry Orenstein is more than just a poker player and inventor. In 2008, the same year that he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the New Jersey Investors Hall of Fame. An avid philanthropist, Orenstein has enhanced humanity by helping build low-income housing in both New York City and Israel. For over thirty-three years he has assisted thousands of financially challenged New Yorkers pay their rent and medical bills.

While Orenstein is known for his work in television (creator/exec. producer of the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament and producer of High Stakes Poker), he is also an accomplished author. He has written two books: I Shall Live: Surviving Against All Odds 1939-1945 and Abram. The former was judged to be the best book written about WWII by the nation of Israel.

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