Ted Forrest, Jeremy Ausmus Among 2023 Poker Hall of Fame Nominees

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The nominations are in for the 2023 class of the Poker Hall of Fame and includes two new players, Jeremy Ausmus and Bill Smith.

Jeremy Ausmus
Jeremy Ausmus is a first-time Poker Hall of Fame nominee. (Image: WSOP)

And the nominees are:

  • Josh Arieh
  • Jeremy Ausmus
  • Ted Forrest
  • Kathy Liebert
  • Mike Matusow
  • Lon McEachern and Norman Chad
  • Brian Rast
  • Matt Savage
  • Isai Scheinberg
  • Bill Smith

The 31 living Poker Hall of Famers will decided who will get in. They have 10 points to allocate between the 10 nominees and will apply those points as they see fit. Only one person will make the cut, though MacEachern and Chad would be inducted together as a team. The criteria for the WSOP-owned Poker Hall of Fame remains the same: 

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of their nomination
  • Played for high stakes
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of their peers
  • Stood the test of time
  • Non-players must have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Layne Flack was posthumously induced in the Poker hall of Fame last year. Bertrand Grospellier and Michael Mizrachi, who made the shortlist last year, didn’t make the cut. Bill Smith, Ted Forrest and Jeremy Ausmus replaced them. The public votes on who should be nominated, but the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council also has a say who makes it this far.

Difficult path for some

Arguably, everyone who made this shortlist has built a career deserving of Hall of Fame recognition, but the WSOP — who owns the Hall — is sticking to a befuddling policy of allowing only one person per year to be inducted.

This makes it exceedingly difficult for the three men who have been repeatedly recognized for their contributions in the world of poker on the business and entertainment side by being nominated.

At least one Hall of Famer wants to make the system more sensible. Daniel Negreanu, on his vlog, suggested a not-too-radical change to the process:

Every year, two players get in. This doesn’t include industry contributors like PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg and longtime World Poker Tour tournament director Matt Savage (may as well add Norm and Chad to that list).

If Negreanu had his way, those folks would have to wait every third year to be considered. In those years, an industry juggernaut joins the two players.

Bill Smith makes cut  

Long-time poker fans may recognize Bill Smith from A. Alvarez’ 1981 book about the WSOP “The Biggest Game in Town.” He has only three WSOP cashes, but all of them came in the $10,000 Main Event, which he won in 1985. He’d finish fifth in both 1986 and 1981.

Here’s how Alverez described the then 48 year-old Smith:

“Smith’s face is pitted and blunt-featured, like Karl Malden’s, and, almost alone among the serious players, he not only drinks while he plays but also seems drunk; he weaves a little in his seat, checking and raising in a thick voice. The cocktail waitresses keep the glass of wiskey at his elbow permanently freshened. But he is what Jack Binion calls a “plenty tough” player, dangerous and aggressive, and the other contestants treat him warily.”

T.J Cloutier verified his love of whiskey, according to a blog post on PartyPoker.com.

“Bill was the tightest player you’d ever played in your life when he was sober. And when he was halfway drunk, he was the best player I’d ever played with. No one could read opponents’ hands better than half- drunk Smith. But when he got past that halfway mark, he was the worst player I’d ever played with.”

Smith died two weeks before turning 72 in 1996.

Ausmus makes first Hall of Fame shortlist

Jeremy Ausmus continues his fantastic 2023 WSOP with his first Poker Hall of Fame nomination. Already this summer, he’s cashed five times, made three final tables, and won his sixth bracelet in the $3,200 online high roller event (his fifth also came online last year).

His WSOP cashes alone break the $7 million mark, nearly half his lifetime winnings of $15,625,820.

Meanwhile, Brian Rast may be the shoe-in this year, especially since he just added his third $50,000 WSOP Player’s Championship bracelet to his resume only last week. He won in 2011 and 2016 as well. With $25.2 million won on the tournament poker trail, his case for the Hall is cut and dry.

Josh Arieh joined Rast and Ausmus in winning a bracelet this summer. A baller whose poker career is pushing the 25-year mark, it’s getting harder and harder to deny he shouldn’t be honored on the wall at the Horseshoe.

Ted Forrest, who turns 59 in September, is a six-time WSOP bracelet winner and a long-time high-stake cash game player who’s been at it since dropping out of college. He won three of those bracelets at the 1993 WSOP. During the early aughts, he appeared on a ton of poker TV shows, even winning NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2006.

He is also known for winning several insane prop-bets, like running a the length of a full marathon in less than 24 hours notice in 119 Las Vegas heat (he won the bet — $7,000 — but his skin peeled off the bottom of his feet).

The other players all made the shortlist last year. The winner will be announced sometime during the Main Event.

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