2021 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

The World Series of Poker announced the 10 finalists for the 2021 class of the Poker Hall of Fame Tuesday afternoon. This year’s nominating process began on Sept. 30, with online voting open to the public through Oct. 14.

The finalists are as follows:

  • Eli Elezra
  • Antonio Esfandiari
  • Chris Ferguson
  • Layne Flack
  • Ted Forrest
  • Bertrand ”ElkY” Grospellier
  • Mike Matusow
  • Michael Mizrachi
  • Matt Savage
  • Isai Scheinberg

Three of the ten candidates are first-time finalists, including Layne Flack, a six-time bracelet winner who passed away earlier this year.

The other two first-time finalists are Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Michael Mizrachi. Grospellier is a triple crown winner, with a bracelet win and titles on the European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour. Mizrachi is a five-time bracelet winner, with a record three wins in the WSOP $50,000 buy-in mixed game event currently known as the Poker Players Championship. Mizrachi also has two WPT main tour titles to his name.

The iconic commentary duo of Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, as well as high-stakes legend Patrik Antonius failed to make the list after being nominated for the accolade in 2020.

Scheinberg and Savage were nominated as non-players again, while Elezra, Esfandiari, Forrest, Matusow and Forrest were nominated for their achievements on the felt for at least their second straight year.

According to the WSOP, the criteria for induction is as follows:

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at the 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 of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Scheinberg is one of the more controversial non-players to be nominated for the Hall of Fame. The U.S. Government indicted Scheinberg in its slew of legal actions during Black Friday in 2011.

The Israeli founded PokerStars and built it into the world’s largest online poker site. It was the online poker room that held the satellite that put 2003 WSOP main event champion Chris Moneymaker into the $10,000 buy-in event, which arguably started the poker boom.

In the wake of Black Friday, PokerStars exited the U.S. market and paid out its American players’ existing balances almost immediately. Its main competition, on the other hand, Full Tilt Poker, was insolvent and unable to pay its players back, leaving many American online players in a stressful financial situation.

Scheinberg worked out a deal to acquire the now-defunct Full Tilt Poker in July 2012 and used its own funds to pay back players. Despite the deal, Scheinberg was still facing charges, but eventually settled them in September 2020.

Savage is a veteran tournament director and the other eight players on the list all have millions in career earnings and multiple WSOP bracelets or other major titles.

The 32 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame will collectively vote on which of these ten finalists will become the 60th inductee. The official announcement will come on Wednesday, Nov. 17 during the new WSOP Hall of Fame Bounty tournament.

Last year saw 1996 WSOP main event champion Huck Seed inducted. In the years before 2020, there were typically two inductees announced each year. The Hall of Fame was first founded in 1979.

Here is a look at all current members of the Poker Hall of Fame:

Name Year Inducted
Johnny Moss 1979
Nick “The Greek” Dandolos 1979
Felton “Corky” McCorquodale 1979
Red Winn 1979
Sid Wyman 1979
James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok 1979
Edmond Hoyle 1979
Blondie Forbes 1980
Bill Boyd 1981
Tom Abdo 1982
Joe Bernstein 1983
Murph Harrold 1984
Red Hodges 1985
Henry Green 1986
Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson 1987
Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson 1988
Jack “Treetop” Straus 1988
Fred “Sarge” Ferris 1989
Benny Binion 1990
David “Chip” Reese 1991
Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston 1992
Jack Keller 1993
Julius Oral Popwell 1996
Roger Moore 1997
Stu “The Kid” Ungar 2001
Lyle Berman 2002
Johnny “The Orient Express” Chan 2002
Bobby “The Owl” Baldwin 2003
Berry Johnston 2004
Jack Binion 2005
Crandell Addington 2005
T.J. Cloutier 2006
Billy Baxter 2006
Barbara Enright 2007
Phil Hellmuth 2007
Dewey Tomko 2008
Henry Orenstein 2008
Mike Sexton 2009
Dan Harrington 2010
Erik Seidel 2010
Linda Johnson 2011
Barry Greenstein 2011
Eric Drache 2012
Brian “Sailor” Roberts 2012
Scotty Nguyen 2013
Tom McEvoy 2013
Daniel Negreanu 2014
Jack McClelland 2014
Jennifer Harman 2015
John Juanda 2015
Carlos Mortensen 2016
Todd Brunson 2016
David “Devilfish” Ulliott 2017
Phil Ivey 2017
John Hennigan 2018
Mori Eskandani 2018
Chris Moneymaker 2019
David Oppenheim 2019
Huck Seed 2020




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