Fan Nominations Open for 2021 Poker Hall of Fame Class

With the 2021 World Series of Poker underway, it’s time to start thinking about which player or industry personnel best deserves to become the 60th member of the Poker Hall of Fame. Fans can already nominate a candidate on the WSOP website. According to the WSOP, nominations must be submitted by October 14.

Who will join the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, and Daniel Negreanu among poker’s most elite club? We don’t know the answer to that question just yet, but we do know it will be someone who meets the following criteria:

  • 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
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Current State of the Poker Hall of Fame

Huck Seed

There are currently 59 members of the Poker Hall of Fame. Huck Seed, the 1996 world champion, was inducted last year. In 2020, the WSOP decided to switch from inducting two individuals annually to just one. That led to some heated debate on social media. But the purpose of the move was to ensure only the best of the best are reaching the Hall of Fame.

This could spark even more heated debate in about 4-5 years when players such as Tom Dwan, Scott Seiver, Justin Bonomo, Phil Galfond, Bryn Kenney, and others all become eligible within a two-year span.

The 59 current members of the Poker Hall of Fame:

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

Induction Process

Inducting a player or industry person into the Poker Hall of Fame is a two-part process. It all starts with the aforementioned fan vote, which ends October 14. The WSOP will tally up the votes and advance the top 10 vote getters to the next step.

Current members of the Hall of Fame will then cast their ballot from the fan nominations list, and the individual who receives the most votes will be inducted into the 2021 Poker Hall of Fame.

The WSOP informed PokerNews that a special ceremony for the inductee will be hosted November 17 at the Rio, during Event #79: $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty No-Limit Hold’em.

Potential Winners

Mike Matusow

Seed beat out a list of players and poker industry giants full of talent last year. Those who missed the cut in 2020 are again eligible, and one of them will likely get inducted this time around.

That list includes Patrik Antonius, Antonio Esfandiari, Mike Matusow, Matt Savage, Isai Scheinberg, Eli Elezra, Ted Forrest, and Chris Ferguson. It’s tough to imagine Ferguson will make the final cut even though he has a Hall of Fame worthy career on the felt. But with many fans still upset about the Full Tilt Poker scandal in 2011, he’s going to have a difficult time getting into the HOF.

Esfandari, Antonius, Elezra, Matusow, and Forrest all have impressive poker resumes. Matusow, for example, has four WSOP bracelets and has a large fan base. But this year’s inductee just might be a non-player.

Savage, the WPT’s executive tour director, has been an innovative and unifying member of the poker community for years. His role in creating universally enforced tournament rules is immeasurable. Last year, he came close to reaching the Poker Hall of Fame, and will have a shot to get over the hump in 2021.

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