Nominations for the next class of Poker Hall of Fame are now open.
Anyone can nominate players or industry gurus for the Hall of Fame through the WSOP website, but voters must hurry. Nominations close Oct. 14, with the 10, 2021 nominees announced on Oct. 15, and the winner announced during the final table of this year’s Main Event on Nov. 17.
Crafting a Hall of Fame Career
Each of the 32 living members of the Hall of Fame will then be invited to assign 10 votes to the top-10 nominees. The person with the most votes gets in.
Hall of Fame voters are instructed to weigh these values:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Played for high stakes
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- For non-players, nominees must have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
Until 2020, the Hall of Fame regularly inducted two individuals per year. In a controversial move, Hall officials cut that number in half because, as WSOP executive director Ty Stewart explained, officials want to make the honor “more of a lifetime achievement award for that rare player who is not just a success, but a legend.”
With 76% of the votes, Huck Seed stood atop a list of players and industry leaders that included runner-up Matt Savage (51%), PokerStars founders Isai Scheinberg (45%), Eli Elezra (30%), Antonio Esfandiari (23%), and longtime WSOP announcers Lon McEachern and Norman Chad (20%), who were nominated as a pair.
Everyone who was nominated and didn’t get in last year is eligible for induction again this year.
Hall of Fame history
Benny Binion created the Hall of Fame in 1979. Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment), bought Binion’s solely for the World Series of Poker brand in 2004, which included the Hall of Fame.
Recent additions to the Hall include Phil Ivey (2017), poker television executive Mori Eskandani (2018), John Hennigan (2018), Chris Moneymaker (2019), and David Oppenheim (2019).
The Poker Hall of Fame includes two players who died while playing poker. Wild “Bill” Hickcok (1979) was shot in the back while holding aces and eights — the Dead Man’s Hand — and 1983 inductee Tom Abdo had a heart attack at the table in 1967.
Abdo died at the poker table. He was an all time great! His last words were " Someone count my chips down". https://t.co/lMGV5ouT5J
— Doyle Brunson (@TexDolly) January 10, 2019
Other members include Dewey Tomko (2008), who quit being an elementary gym teacher to play poker and gamble on golf — and anything else. PGA pro Rocco Mediate said if he had to choose anyone in the world to sink a putt with his life on the line, it would be Tomko.
Both Johnny Chan (2002) and Eric Seidel (2010), linked forever by the final hand of the 1987 WSOP Championship, are members.
Jack McClelland (2014), Linda Johnson (2011), Henry Orenstein (2008), Benny Binion (1990), and his son, Jack (2005) join Eskandani as non-players who have all have had an enormous impact on the popularity and integrity of poker.
Berry Johnson (2004) holds the record with the most consecutive cashes at the WSOP. His 29-year cash streak started with a third-place finish in the 1982 WSOP Main Event for $101K.
Jennifer Harman (2015) and Barbara Enright (2007) join Johnson as the only women in the Poker Hall of Fame. Harman is a high-stakes regular who was part of a poker collective called “The Corporation” which played billionaire Andy Beal for a ridiculous amount of money. It made for a great book: The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.
Enright is still the only woman to make the WSOP final table. She also was the first woman to win an open event and the first to win three bracelets. Johnson published Card Player Magazine, helped form the Tournament Director’s Association, where she served on its board, and was part of the team that shaped the World Poker Tour.