Who's Mark Scheinberg? Meet the Canadian billionaire who made his fortune on poker and is now returning to his first passion

Mark Scheinberg, left, poses for a photo with his father, Isai Scheinberg, in this undated handout photo released to the media on Friday, June 13, 2014. Mark Scheinberg made his multi-billion-dollar fortune through PokerStars, the online poker colossus he founded with his father. Article content

His new venture, Mohari Hospitality, through which he is funnelling up to $1 billion of that fortune, is focused on the more traditional sectors of real estate and hospitality, with properties ranging from Canada to Spain. For Scheinberg, it’s a second act in a new field, one quite different than online gambling, which made him rich but also resulted in a PokerStars legal saga.

Scheinberg, who is extremely private and doesn’t grant interviews, agreed to answer questions via email through a representative — his first interview since leaving PokerStars.

“On the face of it, the two chapters of my career look different and unrelated,” he told the Financial Post.

“PokerStars was based on people coming together online, and hospitality is all about people interacting with their physical surroundings and creating experiences for people to enjoy in a live setting. But despite the obvious differences, ultimately, PokerStars’ success was based on offering a best in class product, with best in class service and I see Mohari’s investments being a success by doing the same.” Article content

Scheinberg spent his childhood in Israel and moved to Toronto with his family as a teen. “I spent many happy years there through high school,” he said. He dropped out of London, Ont.’s Fanshawe College and travelled extensively in his 20s, including stints working in Mexican resorts. “I’ve always had an interest in hospitality and travel — in fact it was my first passion,” he said. “Although I wasn’t there for long, my chosen major in college was hospitality.” On the face of it, the two chapters of my career look different and unrelated In his mid-20s he moved to Costa Rica, where in 2001 he started PokerStars with his father, Isai, who Forbes has described as a “gifted computer programmer” and avid poker player who competed in the 1996 World Series […]

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