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Eli Elezra Selected As Latest Member Of Poker Hall Of Fame

Israeli Businessman Turned Poker Pro Becomes 60th Member Of Hall

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Dec 29, 2021


Longtime poker pro Eli Elezra is the latest player to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, becoming the sole member of the 2021 class in a ceremony conducted during the World Series of Poker.

The former businessman was one of the stars of the poker boom, enduring massive swings by playing in some of the biggest cash games in the world. In addition to being a regular in Bobby’s Room and at other high-limit tables, Elezra has also been a popular mainstay on poker shows such as High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark.

The 60-year-old has also had quite a bit of success in tournaments with more than $4.5 million in earnings, including a seven-figure score when he won the World Poker Tour Mirage Poker Showdown, as well as four World Series of Poker bracelets.

“I started playing poker in 1985… and I wasn’t very successful,” Elezra admitted about his first years in the game. “[So to come all this way] and be alongside guys like Chip [Reese], Doyle [Brunson], Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu… nobody can take that away from you. This is amazing.”

Elezra grew up in Jerusalem, and later served in the Israel Defense Force during the Lebanon War. After being wounded in battle, he moved to Alaska where he worked in a salmon cannery, as a taxi driver, and even hunted bears and whales. He later relocated to Las Vegas when he spotted a business opportunity to run a photo processing store on the Strip. It was there that he discovered poker and became a regular in the high-stakes cash games.

His stories of high-stakes poker and the near-death experiences of his youth are featured in his autobiography, Pulling The Trigger.

“Israel is a small country, but there are a lot of poker players from there now, [even though] poker is illegal there,” Elezra added. “To come from a small country and make the Hall of Fame is a dream come true.”

Elezra becomes the 60th inductee overall, and 33rd living member. He beat out nine other nominees for the honor, including Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Layne Flack, Ted Forrest, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Mike Matusow, Michael Mizrachi, Matt Savage, and Isai Scheinberg.

The nominees were in part determined by a public online vote, and the inductee was selected by living members of the hall.

In order to be considered for the HOF, a player must be a minimum of 40 years old and must have played high-stakes poker “against acknowledged top competition” while “standing the test of time” by playing consistently well and earning the respect of their peers. Or, for non-players, they must have “contributed to the overall growth of the game with indelible positive and lasting results.”

Despite his senior status, Elezra performed quite well at the 2021 WSOP, cashing seven times while making three final tables, including a fourth-place finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. He won his fourth bracelet at the prior series in Las Vegas.

The announcement came during a special Hall of Fame event at the Rio featuring a $1,979 buy-in in honor of the year the hall was founded. If players were able to eliminate a member of the HOF, they would also earn an additional bounty equal to the year the player was inducted. ♠

Notable Tournament Scores

Aug. 2004 $10,000 WPT Mirage Poker Showdown 1st $1,024,574
Nov. 2021 $50,000 WSOP Players Championship 4th $286,983
June 2018 $10,000 WSOP Omaha 8/ob 2nd $258,297
June 2007 $3,000 WSOP Stud 8/ob 1st $198,984
June 2021 $10,000 USPO 8-Game 1st $183,600
July 2013 $2,500 WSOP Triple Draw 1st $173,236
June 2015 $1,500 WSOP Stud 1st $112,591
June 2019 $1,500 WSOP Stud 1st $93,766

The 60 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
Eli Elezra 2021