The public nomination process for the Poker Hall of Fame to determine the top ten candidates for official voting for the Class of 2016 opened earlier this month. The nomination period allows poker fans around the world to submit the names of players they think should be considered for inclusion in the Poker Hall of Fame.
- 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.
And while everybody has an opinion on who should or shouldn’t get in, PocketFives has created a guide for you of 10 names you should consider nominating. Keep in mind, many thought Phil Ivey would be a shoo-in this year, but turns out he’s not quite eligible yet. With that in mind, we’ve broken the names into three groups: Obvious Choices, Dark Horses and Long Shots.
Rule of thumb – if an era is named after someone, then that person is probably a Hall of Famer. Chris Moneymaker was the right guy, at the right place, bluffing at the right time when he won the WSOP Main Event in 2003. ESPN audiences drank up a 20-something accountant from Tennessee facing down Sammy Farha for $2.5 million dollars.
Moneymaker not only won, but somehow graciously handled the media firestorm of attention that no one could be prepared for. He was the face of the poker boom that followed and soon every line cook in the country was hosting a home game.
Moneymaker wasn’t a flash in the pan, since his historic win he’s earned $1.1 million in tournaments and solidified himself as one of the top ambassadors of the game, greeting every critic with a smile. But his influence goes beyond a player and undoubtedly “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game.”
Carlos Mortensen first rose to poker fame after winning the 2001 WSOP Main Event but he is also the all-time leading money winner in World Poker Tour history thanks largely to his three WPT titles. His lifetime earnings are just north of $11.8 million.
Mortensen has two bracelets in 35 WSOP cashes with another 20 cashes and seven WPT final tables. Should he get into the Hall of Fame, he would undoubtedly be the most WPT-centric player in the Hall of Fame to date, Mike Sexton withstanding (almost all tournament success in WSOP events). But with his banner hung in the Amazon Room the stewards of the HOF can breathe easy.
One can’t discuss French poker without mentioning Bruno Fitoussi’s name. He was one-part Mike Sexton, one-part Mori Eskandani and one-part Chris Moneymaker when poker boomed on TV in France. He was one of the operators of The Aviation Club – one of Europe’s premier poker rooms – and the lack of European inductees is one of the PHOF’s most warranted criticisms.
As a player he’s won $2.8 million around the world while logging 20 WSOP cashes. He finished runner-up in the 2007 $50,000 HORSE Championship for $1.2 million and finished 15th in the 2003 Main Event.
The six-time bracelet winner’s name keeps coming up in this conversation. He’s one of five players to win three bracelets in a year, nine of his 34 WSOP cashes were in events with a $5,000 buy-in or greater.
Forrest doesn’t have the flash that screams Hall of Famer but he’s got a track record in all the games, was a part of “The Corporation”, the group of top level pros that took on billionaire banker Andy Beal, and as far as standing the test of time is concerned – he’s got 21 years between his first and most recent bracelet.
David Chiu just passed the $8 million in career earnings mark and he has five WSOP bracelets, 25 final tables and 73 cashes in the WSOP alone and finds himself in rarified air among the five-bracelet club, he’s one of three or four players that could arguably keep adding to his total. His game hasn’t aged like many in his age bracket – he’s cashed in six $10,000 or greater events since 2014, including the 2015 $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha event.
Chris Bjorin’s grandfatherly smile and non-threatening demeanour masks that he’s won $5 million, two bracelets and a European Poker Tour title and it took Martin Jacobson winning $10 million in the 2014 WSOP Main Event to top him on Sweden’s all-time money list.
If there was a Hall of Fame of Not Giving a Sh*t, Huck Seed would be there. There’s certain politicking and campaigning many nominees endure to gain entry, but that’s something this former Main Event Champ and four-time bracelet winner just won’t do.
Todd Brunson isn’t discussed much in after-hours PHOF talk but has won $4.2 million and has 50 WSOP cashes. He has spent most of his career focused on high stakes cash games. The largest strike against him is that he has just one bracelet and while nowhere in the requirements does it say “multi-bracelet winner”, it’s implied.
Mike Matusow’s life shows highs and lows of the life of a professional gambler better than any Hollywood flick ever could. He’s a true blue-collar player that’s won and lost at least $8.6 million, has four bracelets, spent time in jail and battled life-threatening medical problems all while being a big star in the TV boom era.
The Long Shot
International poker politics are a curious thing, and while the entity that owns the PHOF prefers their own version of worldwide poker history, most everyone else recognizes Isai Scheinberg as the single most influential businessman in poker the world will probably ever see.
Scheinberg was the former CEO of PokerStars and directed the company during its profitable and expansive rise to the top of the online poker world. The private ownership allowed Scheinberg and his management team room to innovate and become the overwhelming leaders in the industry.
Photos courtesy of World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour.