The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame finalists includes nine World Series of Poker bracelet winners, three former Main Event champions, and for the first time ever, a magician. Well, The Magician.
Antonio Esfandiari, once known as ‘The Magician, is the only first-time finalist in the group of 10 players selected by the WSOP Hall of Fame Committee that will now be voted on by living Hall of Fame members and a select panel of poker media and industry personnel. The top two vote-getters will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame later this summer.
Voters are tasked with considering the following criteria when awarding their votes:
- A 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 other nine finalists are Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, David Oppenheim, and Huck Seed.
The final group of 10 was put together by the “WSOP Hall of Fame Committee”. In years past, the public was invited to submit names for inclusion with the 10 most-suggested names being the finalists.
This marks Bjorin’s seventh time as a finalist. No other player has been nominated as often as the two-time bracelet winning Swede. Now 71, Bjorin has earned $5.75 million in lifetime earnings. He’s been nominated in seven of the last eight years.
Chiu has now been a finalist six times, including the last three in a row. The 58-year-old has five WSOP bracelets, won the WPT World Championship in 2008, and has just over $8,000,000 in lifetime earnings.
Ferguson, Moneymaker, and Seed are all former Main Event champions. For Ferguson, this marks a return to the list of finalists. His only previous nomination came in 2010, before Black Friday and the Full Tilt Poker scandal. He’s since won WSOP Player of the Year, a sixth bracelet and cashed 65 more times.
Moneymaker was previously a finalist in 2016 and 2018. The 2003 WSOP Main Event champion is credited with being an integral part of poker’s explosion in popularity in the mid-2000s. So much so, that it’s often called ‘The Moneymaker Effect’.
Seed has four bracelets, including the 1996 Main Event championship. He also won the 1998 Carnivale of Poker and the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
Matusow, who has four WSOP bracelets, is a finalist for the fifth time. He won the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship and has just over $9.5 million in lifetime earnings.
Six WSOP bracelets, an NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship title, and a World Poker Tour victory are just the highlights from Forrest’s tournament resume. He was also an integral figure in the Andy Beal cash games in the mid-2000s.
Fresh off of winning his fourth bracelet, Elezra’s nomination is his second. He was a finalist first in 2016.
Oppenheim is the only player nominated that has not won a WSOP bracelet. Mainly a cash game player, Oppenheim has $1,866,190 including just nine WSOP cashes, three of which came in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame inductees will be announced during the WSOP Main Event in early July.