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Meet the 2010 Poker Hall of Fame Nominees

Meet the 2010 Poker Hall of Fame Nominees

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Oct 15, 2010


It’s been said that you can fake your way to the final table, but you can’t fake a poker career. Few players can stay on top forever, and when looking through the annals of poker history, you become painfully aware of just how fragile the game can be.

So, how does the game of poker measure greatness? World Series of Poker bracelets and World Poker Tour titles are great, but anybody on the right side of variance can claim one of those.

The answer is longevity. Only the true champions of the game keep their heads above water, year after year, decade after decade. And, ultimately, those champions are up for consideration for poker’s ultimate honor — induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

A Little History

In 1979, Benny Binion decided to honor the best in the game with the creation of the Poker Hall of Fame. Original entrants included the likes of Johnny Moss, Nick “The Greek” Dandolos, James “Wild Bill” Hickok, and Edmond Hoyle.

In order for a player to be considered for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame, he must have met the main criteria. The player must have played poker for high stakes against acknowledged top competition and withstood the test of time. The player must have played consistently well, gaining the respect of his peers. If the nominee was not a player, he must have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

In total, there are 38 members of the Hall of Fame, 16 of whom are still living. Over the years, legends such as Doyle Brunson, David “Chip” Reese, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Stu Ungar, Lyle Berman, Johnny Chan, and even Binion himself were inducted.
When Harrah’s purchased the WSOP in 2004, it also assumed ownership of the Poker Hall of Fame. Since then, Berry Johnston, Jack Binion, T.J. Cloutier, Billy Baxter, Barbara Enright, Phil Hellmuth, and Dewey Tomko have been inducted, among others.

In 2009, Harrah’s announced a change to the nomination process, calling on the public to take part by casting nominations online. Each nomination could be accompanied by up to 250 words supporting a nominee’s worthiness.

The 2010 Nominees

A total of 102 people received nominations during two months of voting, 44 of whom received multiple nominations. That list was then whittled down to the top 10 qualifiers, who will now be analyzed and evaluated by a panel of media members and the living members of the Hall of Fame.

Chris Ferguson, a new candidate for the Hall this year, said that just being named one of the final 10 nominees is a tribute. “I’m honored to be considered along with so many worthy nominees,” Ferguson said. “I’m thrilled to be nominated for the first time.”

The two nominees who receive the most deciding votes will enter the Hall as long as they get at least 50 percent of the vote. This is a change from 2009, when 75 percent of the vote was required. Because of that vote requirement, only Mike Sexton was inducted.

“I was nominated last year and my hopes were pretty high, but unfortunately, the voting system meant the odds were stacked against more than one person getting in,” said Tom McEvoy. “Next to winning the main event, getting voted into the Poker Hall of Fame would be the highlight of my life. I want this very badly. It would definitely put a stamp on everything I’ve stood for and everything I’ve accomplished in my poker career.”

Jennifer Harman, who along with Linda Johnson has a chance to become the second female inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame after Barbara Enright, echoed McEvoy’s sentiment.

“This is incredible,” Harman said. “It’s just a great honor. I’ve been playing poker and competing with the best players for nearly all of my life, and I’m ecstatic that it’s been recognized.”

Johnson, who is more of a poker ambassador than a player, said that her chances depend on what the committee is looking for. “If they’re looking for someone with a lot of poker accomplishments on the green felt, I probably won’t be inducted, because I’m not in that league,” said Johnson. “I’ve been a winning player for 30 years and I do have a bracelet, but I’m certainly not in the multiple-bracelets, multimillion-dollar-winnings category. If they’re looking for somebody who has done a lot for poker, then I feel good about my chances. It’s hard to know what they’re looking for.”

This year’s induction ceremony will take place during the WSOP main-event final-table weekend at the Rio in November. Card Player magazine has a vote, but before we cast it, we’d like to take a more in-depth look at each of the candidates.

A Look at the Nominees

Chris Ferguson

Chris Ferguson was born on April 11, 1963, in Los Angeles, California. A longtime student, he discovered his love for poker while completing work on his Ph.D. in computer science at UCLA.

Not wanting to appear out of place as a college student, he donned a black cowboy hat, leather jacket, and dark sunglasses. His signature look has made him one of the more prominent faces of poker in the last decade.

Ferguson became a big name during the 2000 World Series of Poker, where he won his first bracelet, in seven-card stud, and followed it up by winning the main event. His victory was chronicled in the James McManus book Positively Fifth Street. He has since gone on to win three more bracelets, and has one of the best records in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. He has nearly $8 million in career earnings, and was one of the founding members of Full Tilt Poker.

Barry Greenstein

Barry Greenstein was born on Dec. 30, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, and went to work for Symantec before making the permanent switch to poker in 1991.

Known as “The Robin Hood of Poker,” Greenstein found fame in the poker world as a result of his habit of donating his tournament winnings to charity. He has more than $7 million in career tournament winnings, three World Series of Poker bracelets, and one World Poker Tour title.

Despite his obvious tournament prowess, Greenstein is also a frequent member of the “big game” in Bobby’s Room at Bellagio, where he battles the best in the world for the highest stakes around. He also is an author, having penned Ace on the River, and is a Team PokerStars pro.

Jennifer Harman

Jennifer Harman was born on Nov. 29, 1964, in Reno, Nevada. She graduated from the University of Nevada, but having played poker since the age of 8, she chose that career, and has been very successful.

Harman holds two World Series of Poker bracelets, but she is known more for her ability to battle it out with the boys in Bobby’s Room at Bellagio. She was the only female member of the group of professionals who banded together to play banker Andy Beal heads up for millions of dollars, and is known for her prowess in the mixed limit games.

Doyle Brunson respects her game so much that he asked her to author the limit hold’em section of his book Super System 2. Harman is also a member of Team Full Tilt Poker.

Dan Harrington

Dan Harrington was born on Dec. 6, 1945, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has always had an affinity for games, excelling at backgammon and chess; in fact, he won the 1971 Massachusetts State Chess Championship.

In the mid-1980s, Harrington made the switch to poker, and began playing at the Mayfair Club, an underground card club in New York where Howard Lederer, Steve Zolotow, and Erik Seidel played.

Harrington is a bottom-line type of guy, and has always insisted that he competes for the money, not the fame or glory. To that effect, he has more than $6 million in tournament earnings.

Otherwise known as “Action Dan” for his tight image at the table, Harrington is most known for making the World Series of Poker main event final table four times, including a win in 1995. He has one additional bracelet and a World Poker Tour title, and is the author of the popular series of books Harrington on Hold’em.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey was born on Feb. 1, 1976, in Riverside, California, but grew up in Roselle, New Jersey. After cleaning out his co-workers at a New Brunswick telemarketing firm during a poker game, he began to frequent the Atlantic City cardrooms, using a fake ID. This led to his nickname of “No Home Jerome,” as Jerome was one of his aliases.

Considered by many to be the best poker player in the world, Ivey has definitely earned the respect of his peers. His $13 million in tournament earnings is the most ever, but that number pales in comparison to how he has done in cash games, both online and in Bobby’s Room at Bellagio.

Ivey is a member of Team Full Tilt Poker, and recently had the high-limit poker room at Aria named after him. He has eight World Series of Poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour title, and is undoubtedly the most feared player in the game today.

Linda Johnson

Linda Johnson was born on Oct. 14, 1953, in Long Island, New York. Her connection to Las Vegas stemmed from frequent visits to play blackjack while working for the U.S. Postal Service. Her father eventually convinced her to try poker, instead, so that she would no longer have to play against the house.

Known as “The First Lady of Poker,” Johnson has done more than her fair share to promote the game as an ambassador for poker. She was the publisher of Card Player magazine for eight years before selling the company, and currently is a partner in Card Player Cruises.

She was a co-founder of the Tournament Directors Association, as well as the World Poker Players Conference. In 2009, she helped found PokerGives, a nonprofit organization that makes it easier for poker players to donate their winnings to charity. Johnson is also an excellent player, having won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 1997.

Tom McEvoy

Tom McEvoy was born on Nov. 14, 1944, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He learned the game of poker at the age of 5, but spent his early career working as an accountant. It wasn’t until he was laid off from his job that he took up poker full time.

He moved to Las Vegas in 1979, and has been a poker professional ever since, having won four World Series of Poker bracelets, including the 1983 main event. In 2009, McEvoy won the inaugural WSOP Champions Invitational, for which he was awarded a classic 1970 Corvette and the inaugural Binion Cup.

He was an integral part of the effort to ban smoking during poker tournaments, and in 1998, he helped to organize the first smoke-free event. He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen poker books with other players such as T.J. Cloutier and Brad Daugherty, was a longtime columnist for Card Player magazine, and is a member of Team PokerStars.

Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu was born on July 26, 1974, in Toronto, Canada. Although he originally had dreams of becoming a professional snooker player, he supplemented his earnings as a teen with poker. At the age of 22, he made the move to Las Vegas to begin his professional career in poker.

Negreanu is second only to Phil Ivey, with more than $12 million in career tournament earnings, and was the Card Player 2004 Player of the Year. He has four World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles.

He is also a standout on poker shows such as High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and The Big Game, and is a member of Team PokerStars. He also has released an instructional book titled Power Hold’em Strategy.

Scotty Nguyen

Scotty Nguyen was born on Oct. 28, 1962, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. After coming to America at the age of 14, he was expelled from school for spending too much time playing in underground poker games. At the age of 21, he became a poker dealer.

After losing his nightly tips in the $3-$6 stud game, Nguyen vowed to get better. It wasn’t long before he had built up a bankroll and began competing in both cash games and tournaments.

Nguyen, otherwise known as the “Prince of Poker,” always takes time out for his fans. With his trademark hair and habit of calling everyone “Baby,” he has been a fan-favorite since winning the World Series of Poker main event in 1998. He has one World Poker Tour title and five WSOP bracelets, including one for winning the 2008 $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship, and has racked up more than $11 million in career tournament earnings.

Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel was born on Nov. 6, 1959, in New York City. He spent eight years as a tournament backgammon player before switching to the stock market and eventually poker.

He was one of the original group of players at the Mayfair Club in New York, along with Dan Harrington, Steve Zolotow, and Howard Lederer. He eventually made the move to Las Vegas, where he was immortalized in the movie Rounders for his runner-up performance against Johnny Chan in the 1988 World Series of Poker main event.

Seidel has since gone on to earn more than $10 million in tournaments, and has eight WSOP bracelets to go along with one World Poker Tour title. He also has done exceptionally well at the Aussie Millions, finishing runner-up in both the main event and the $100,000 side event. He is a member of Team Full Tilt Poker.

Poker Hall of Fame Members

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 “Dandy” Addington 2005
T.J. Cloutier 2006
Billy Baxter 2006
Barbara Enright 2007
Phil Hellmuth 2007
Dewey Tomko 2008
Henry Orenstein 2008
Mike Sexton 2009