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The World Series of Poker’s Poker Hall of Fame announced the list of 10 finalists that will be considered for induction in 2021. The 32 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame will cast their vote from the shortlist, with just one earning the honor of induction on November 17. This year’s shortlist includes (in alphabetical order): Eli Elezra A businessman and four-time WSOP bracelet winner, Elezra has proven himself to be a world-class competitor in both high-stakes tournaments and cash games. He has more than $4.1 million in total live tournament earnings as well as a World Poker Tour title to his name. Additionally, Elezra built a reputation in the Las Vegas cash games and made appearances on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. Antonio Esfandiari Nicknamed “The Magician”, Esfandiari became one of the more popular personalities of the poker boom (along with his then partner-in-crime Phil Laak). He has three WSOP gold bracelets, two World Poker Tour titles, and is also well-known as the winner of the first-ever $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop for which he earned more than $18 million, helping push his lifetime earnings to more than $27 million. Chris Ferguson As a six-time WSOP bracelet winner (including the 2000 Main Event), the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, and with a total of 142 WSOP cashes for more than $6.8 million Ferguson has one of the best resumes in WSOP history. However, his reputation off the felt took a critical blow in the aftermath of Black Friday as one of the primary parties of Full Tilt Poker and the debacle that followed when players were unable to get paid. Layne Flack Six-time WSOP bracelet winner Layne Flack is receiving a posthumous nomination after his sudden passing away in July of 2021. Flack was given the nickname “back-to-back” after winning two consecutive events in the 1999 Legends of Poker, and then picked up two bracelets in 2002 and again in 2003. Flack earned more than $5 million in lifetime tournament earnings as well as a World Poker Tour title. Ted Forrest The third six-time bracelet winner on this list is Ted Forrest who has 39 WSOP cashes for just over $2 million. Additionally, Forrest has a World Poker Tour title and a reputation as being an important personality in the early poker boom as well as a member of The Corporation, who took on billionaire Andy Beal made poker famous as The Suicide King in Michael Craig’s book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside The Richest Poker Game of All Time. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier One of the original online poker celebrities, Grospellier currently sits 47th on the All-Time Money List. With two WSOP bracelets and a WPT Championship victory in 2008, ‘ElkY’ has amassed more than $14 million in live earnings. However, with just one person making it into the Hall of Fame each year, Grospellier may be a long shot to get inducted in 2021. Mike Matusow Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow is one of poker’s most colorful characters but in addition to his polarizing personality, he boasts a decades-long resume of accomplishments. He’s a four-time bracelet winner with just under $10 million in career live earnings and he’s still ever-present at the WSOP today. Matusow’s strength is the impression he left and continues to leave on poker fans worldwide. Michael Mizrachi The top line of Mizrachi’s poker resume reads “Three-time $50,000 Poker Players Champion.” It’s an incredible feat and ’The Grinder’ is the only player to have pulled it off thus far. He’s a five-time WSOP bracelet winner, two-time WPT champion, and has accumulated over $17 million in live earnings and, at just 40 years old, is nominated in his first year of eligibility. Matt Savage The Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour, Savage is the most well-known TD in the game today. Nominated as a builder, Savage has been integral to the Tournament Directors Association helping shape the way that tournaments are played today. Isai Scheinberg PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is one of the most influential businessmen from the poker boom era, getting much of the credit for helping drive the success of online poker both through marketing and the development of his platform. Also nominated as a builder, Scheinberg was key in helping U.S. players get refunded from a defunct Full Tilt Poker and now, with his legal troubles vs. the U.S. government behind him, he’s nominated for the second year in a row. The criteria for nomination into the Poker Hall of Fame remains that players must be 40 years of age, player for high stakes against acknowledged top competition while gaining the respect of their peers. They also need to have stood the test of time. In the builder category, they are judged on the overall growth and success of the game while providing indelible positive and lasting results. The enshrinement ceremony will be held on November 17 to coincide with the final table of the 2021 WSOP Main Event.
The Rio is absolutely packed and the energy has been electric as players have found their way back to the World Series of Poker. To chase bracelets, maybe win some cash, and to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of bad beats. But also, to be a small part of something bigger. The Reunion, the first massive field event of the fall, is capturing all of that nicely. The idea was to have a coming together of poker players to reignite the fire of live tournament poker and to, essentially, enjoy making moments in one of the most prestigious series in poker. For the most part, the players have embraced it. Lively table talk and laughs can be heard while taking laps through Brasilia. Hand histories between friends fill the hallway and while, yes, there are some formidable lines to get into The Reunion, many of those would-be bracelet winners are demonstrating the kind of patience that is praised as a profitable trait in the game. But as much as The Reunion is a time to celebrate, it’s also a good time to remember. It’s been more than 800 days since the last hand of the 2019 WSOP was dealt and in that time poker has lost a number of notable figures in the community that has made the WSOP great. Players who have made a lasting impact on and off the felt with their play and personalities. Players who are no longer able to join us to enjoy the final WSOP at the Rio. Mike Sexton is one of those players. The legendary voice of the World Poker Tour was an avid player at the WSOP. There’s simply no doubt that if he could be at the start of the 2021 series, he would. Sexton’s charm could light up a table and his $2.6 million in earnings let you know he could also take it down. His passing in September 2020 was a massive loss to the poker world and there’s a bit of a void for a high-profile, old-school player who is willing to mix it up at all levels of buy-ins. His last time at the series was in 2019, in the final event, the $1,500 Closer where he finished 61st for more than $8K. Layne Flack got his “Back-To-Back” nickname at the WSOP. A Las Vegas resident and six-time bracelet winner, Flack’s outgoing personality helped define the early ESPN poker boom broadcasts. Flack played all the games and locked up two of his six wins in 2003, first in a $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo and then six days later in a $1,500 Limit Shootout. After Flack’s sudden passing, at 52, the poker world remembered him for his sense of humor and quick wit. Undoubtedly, he’d have a biting quip about the state of the WSOP, but it’d be great to hear it. Unlike Sexton and Flack, Darvin Moon doesn’t have a long storied history with the WSOP, but it’s no less memorable. He was the logger who won a satellite to the Main Event battled Joe Cada for the 2009 title. He told a fib to his wife on national TV about what he had in a hand and became another poker icon for the everyman, maybe the biggest since Moneymaker himself. He left the WSOP with $5.1 million before disappearing back into the woods from which he first emerged but you mention Darvin Moon at the WSOP and everyone knows who you are talking about. Moon passed away in September 2020, his runner-up finish was his only WSOP cash. Sam Grizzle’s first WSOP recorded cash was in 1990, bubbling the final table of the $1,500 Razz for roughly $4,000. While he never took home a bracelet, he splashed around in a mixed game event or three nearly every year for the better part of two decades and played as recently as 2019. Grizzle carried the reputation of pre-boom, old-school poker. A man who wasn’t afraid to say what is on his mind and even take it outside if pushed. Ask any longtime veteran about Sam Grizzle and surely a story will follow. Norm MacDonald, long-time Bay Area player and two-time bracelet winner Howard ‘Tahoe’ Andrew, and another two-timer Rod Pardey are among them as well. Plus, all of those grinders who have taken a shot over the years, enjoyed the chase and were a part of this community. This crop would likely shudder at the thought of being remembered with a black and white photo slideshow with “Tears In Heaven” playing in the background. They’d rather you check-raise bluff the turn. Double-tap the table when you've been beat. Take a photo in front of the WSOP sign. Don’t shed a tear, raise a glass and, maybe, make some memories and maybe a bit of history while you’re at it. But most importantly: enjoy. It’s a Reunion after all.
Hosted by Lance Bradley, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. This week Lance is joined once again by PocketFives Managing Editor Jeff Walsh and after a week off from the podcast, there's plenty for the duo to discuss. First up, the pair talks about the sudden passing of poker personality Lane "Back-to-Back" Flack and the outpouring of stories and condolences from the poker community. Phil Hellmuth was back in the High Stakes Duel streets, this time taking on Fox Sports commentator Nick Wright in a six-hour marathon session. With the win, Hellmuth moves to 7-0 in the format. What's next for him and what's next for the show? The domestic World Series of Poker Online on WSOP.com winds down, just as the international bracelet events get started on GGPoker. Plus, with new restrictions being implemented in Las Vegas, what might take place during the live WSOP? Tune in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher