One of the behind-the-scenes movers and shakers of the online poker world, Rich Korbin, passed away late Friday at age 73. Korbin first achieved fame in poker by winning a WSOP gold bracelet in a 2001 $2,500 limit seven card stud hi-lo event, though his lasting impact on the game came from his years as the Director of Marketing for online-poker giant PokerStars.
Korbin, originally from New York, died of cardiac complications following recent surgery for a broken leg. Services will be held in Colorado on Tuesday. A second service or remembrance may also be held in Las Vegas at a later date by his many poker-world friends.
As Stars’ Director of Marketing, Korbin played a huge role in the online site’s rocketing from a slightly late-to-the-dance startup in late 2001 to the second-largest site in the game by 2005, trailing only PartyPoker, and when London-based PartyPoker exited the U.S. in late 2006 due to the passage of the UIGEA, PokerStars quickly stepped in to become the planet’s largest online poker site, a title it holds to this day.
Korbin was hugely successful in what was in essence a form of product placement for PokerStars, not only in poker, but in the mainstream as well. A chance meeting between Korbin and a producer for CBS’s long-running news show “60 Minutes”, for example, turned into a segment on the show, one which featured a largely positive spin on the game well before “60 Minutes” turned its focus on more controversial matters connected to the game.
Korbin and PokerStars also benefited from circumstance as well, such as Chris Moneymaker’s run to poker glory after winning a satellite on Stars into the World Series of Poker Main Event. Moneymaker parlayed that seat into the 2003 WSOP Main Event title, boosting growing interest in the online game into an even larger surge that remains known to this day as the “Moneymaker Effect”, a surge that was well-managed by Korbin and others at PokerStars.
For Korbin, such image-building was a part of his role. The well-liked Korbin excelled at industry networking, too, and he was known by thousands throughout the game, being fondly remembered for his warmth, kindness, and self-deprecating sense of humor, among other virtues and character traits.
Remembrances flood social media
Many of Korbin’s friends expressed their shock and sadness upon hearing of Korbin’s sudden passing. One of the most heartfelt of all comes from the PokerStarsBlog founder, Brad Willis, who served up a deep and heartfelt Facebook post on the passing of his longtime friend.
A small sampling of tweets from players and poker-industry people also illustrates the high regard held for the long-time PokerStars exec:
Featured image source: Facebook / Rich Corbin