PokerStars may be going on 13 years old, but it's only been in recent years that people have really started to learn about the inner workings of the company. There's good reason for that. In the early days, PokerStars spent nearly all its energy developing a good product with world-renowned customer service.
"The way I'd bluntly describe it is that for a long time, we were a black box to our customers," said Lee Jones, Head of Poker Communications. "In short, they put their money in, and a great enjoyable poker experience came out. The players were happy with that arrangement, and all we had to do was work hard to maintain and improve the great poker experience that came out."
But times changed. In recent years, the industry has been under a great deal of scrutiny. More and more, customers, regulators, and governments have wanted a clearer view of how companies like PokerStars and its Rational Group partner Full Tilt Poker work.
"While we were very good at producing a great poker experience, we had little or no clue as to how one would explain and demystify that process in a way that would be understandable and reassuring outside," Jones explained.
Enter Eric Hollreiser, Rational Group's Head of Corporate Communications, the man tasked with demystifying the mysterious.
"As countries began drafting regulation and establishing licensing structures a few years ago, the expectations upon online gaming companies evolved," Hollreiser said. "Regulators and legislators demand greater levels of transparency. At the same time, social trends have affected consumer expectations of companies - they want to know what kind of company they are doing business with. PokerStars saw this shift and established my role to prepare the company for that new reality."
That is what Hollreiser has been doing for PokerStars and the Rational Group. With a background guiding communications at huge international publicly traded companies (Disney, Microsoft, and Activision), Hollreiser set out to show people how the world's biggest online poker company operated. His efforts just earned him a spot among Gaming Intelligence's Hot 50, "most talented, innovative and inspiring individuals working in the online gambling industry." Rational Group COO Rafi Ashkenazi and Head of Casino Sam Hobcraft were also named on the list.
Since joining PokerStars, Hollreiser has become the corporate face of PokerStars around the world during some of the most tumultuous years. He launched this corporate blog to communicate more often with players and PokerStars fans. He even organized public tours of the PokerStars headquarters during the recent UKIPT Isle of Man event.
"Before Black Friday PokerStars had remained largely closed off to the world, with the industry afforded little insight into the world's biggest poker operator. All this changed with the arrival of former Disney exec Eric Hollreiser, who has pushed hard to make PokerStars act like the market-leader it undoubtedly is," Gaming Intelligence said.
"Eric, fortunately, is a ninth-dan black belt at that very thing, having served similar roles at Microsoft and Disney. He pulls back the curtain, shines the light on what we do and makes it clear and easy to understand," Jones said. "This makes the customers happier and improves their overall experience."
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging