Poker doesn't care who you are

WPT tournament, pocket rockets
Brad Willis
Posted on: December 14, 2022 10:06 PST

This is only a cold deck story, but it’s one that makes a point.

It’s the story of just one guy, in one poker tournament, in one casino in the world. Yes, it’s the 2022 WPT World Championship at the Wynn, and yes the prize pool has climbed to more than $25 million. And, yes, this deck is pretty damned cold. 

But it happens to somebody every day. It’s a cruel world this poker scene, and when it’s all happening, nobody gives a damn who you are, where you came from, or how the whole thing is going to make you feel. It’s poker. There’s the exit. 

And so, through photographer Joe Giron’s lens, here’s just another cold deck story in the cold cruel world of poker. It’s that timeless tale of a guy who happily gets it in on a board with two tens and a turned ace, because, of course, he has aces. And because this is a winter hellscape in which cruelty and valiance are honored with the same shrug, nobody cares that aces full loses to quad tens. 

Cards & Chips Joe Giron/
WPT tournament, pocket rockets Pocket rockets Joe Giron/

And, in this case, it doesn’t matter that the man with the aces was maybe one of the most important men in the game of poker in the last two decades. It doesn’t matter that he was a guest of honor here this week. It doesn’t matter that he stood on the stage to rounds of applause as he was announced as one of the WPT Honors Award recipients.

That is all to say, on any given day in any given poker tournament, PokerStars co-founder Isai Scheinberg is just any other guy on the bad end of a cold deck. Seconds later as he walks down the hallway of the Wynn Encore convention area, he won’t be just any other guy again. But back there in the poker room? Well, you know. You’ve been there. And now you know…so has Isai Scheinberg.

Isai Scheinberg Joe Giron/

Photos by Joe Giron, PokerPhotoArchive