Sometime before the end of 2020, one person – and potentially two – will receive a phone call from World Series of Poker executives letting them now they have been enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame.
The list of ten finalists for the class of 2020 were announced Thursday with three first-time nominees and seven others who have been up for induction before.
Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, the longtime voices of the WSOP on ESPN broadcasts, are nominated as a pair. This marks the first-time in Hall of Fame history that a duo has been nominated together and is the first nomination for the each of them.
Patrik Antonius, who turned 40 earlier this month to meet the minimum age requirement is also a first-time nominee. The Finnish superstar has more than $12 million in lifetime tournament earnings but is more well-known for his high stakes cash game prowess both online and live.
The third new name on the list of finalists is PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg. The 75-year-old Scheinberg founded the company that eventually became PokerStars in 2000 and turned it into the industry leader before selling the company to Amaya in 2014. In 2011, Scheinberg was one of 11 people indicated by the United States government in what eventually became known as Black Friday in the poker community. WSOP officials, who oversee the Poker Hall of Fame, had made it clear in years past that Scheinberg’s inability to travel to the United States to accept a possible induction was part of the reason he had not been nominated. Scheinberg settled the case earlier this year.
Scheinberg isn’t the only finalist with connections to Black Friday. Full Tilt Poker co-founder and six-time WSOP bracelet winner Chris Ferguson is nominated for the second consecutive year. Ferguson, who disappeared from the WSOP scene following Black Friday before returning to action in 2016, won the WSOP Main Event in 2000 and sits third on the WSOP all-time cashes list. To many, Ferguson remains one of the most controversial figures in poker over his connections to Full Tilt Poker and refusal to address his role in the downfall of the company.
The other six finalists are Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Matt Savage, and 1996 WSOP Main Event champion Huck Seed.
The list of finalists is now in the hands of the 31 living members of the Hall of Fame. Each member is given 10 votes to distribute to any of the finalists they deem worthy of induction. Voters are expected to consider the following criteria when casting their ballot:
- Player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Be a minimum of 40-years-old at time of nomination
- Played for high stakes
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
The finalist who receives the most votes will be the sole inductee this year with the announcement coming at the 2020 WSOP Main Event final table in Las Vegas on December 30.