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Poker Hall of Fame

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Sep 09, '14

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So the WSOP recently released it's ten nominees for induction into the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame. The process for this appears to be a combination of a fan vote, with some additions where necessary. For example, Bob Hooks is on the list and I can't imagine he was voted in by the fans. I'm embarrassed to say that while I have heard the name before, I have no idea who he is or what his accomplishments are. If I don't know, then the only ones who would, would likely have to be poker historians. I don't think the general public is familiar with him, so I'm led to believe that his name was added by the WSOP.

This years list of nominees looks like this:

Chris Bjorin
Bruno Fitoussi
Ted Forrest
Jen Harman
Bob Hooks
Mike Matusow
Jack McClelland
Daniel Negreanu
Huckleberry Seed

Info on players here: HOF Bios

Plenty of great, and likely deserving players not on this list. Too many to mention, but a few highlights would include players like Gus Hansen, John Juanda, and Carlos Mortensen. Regardless, any list will always be open to scrutiny and second guessing, but it is surprising to see these names not on the ballot in 2014.

Should age matter?

The real question I have for all of you is this: should Hall of Fame voters choose the person most deserving of the award, or should age be a factor? About 6 years ago they instituted a rule that you must be 40 years of age or older to be inducted. This addresses one of the key criteria for induction, "stood the test of time." So the question is whether or not someone who is 75 years old, no longer at their peak or even playing, trumps the credentials of someone 45 years old who has been in the game for, say, 20 odd years?

What do they do in other Hall of Fames? I am not too familiar with what usually happens with other Hall of Fames so I'm genuinely asking, but instinctively I would think that the player who is most qualified based on the criteria should always be the one who gets in. So for example, If the NHL had a 40+ rule, would it make sense to induct a player like Jaromir Jagr, despite the fact that he is still playing competitively, over a player like Lanny McDonald, who is much older, but who maybe wasn't as accomplished in his career? I think so.

Maybe I'm wrong about this, I'm open to that, but it just makes sense to me to induct the most deserving person each year. For a poker example, let's look at the careers of Chris Bjorin and John Juanda. Bjorin has been a beast for ages, but if you compared the stats of both players in terms of how they meet the criteria, I think Juanda clearly gets the edge. His tournament results are better overall, and he has played the highest stakes cash games in the world, gaining the respect of his peers. Bjorin is no slouch, and I want it to be clear that I think he is a fantastic player that meets much of the criteria, but I think Juanda is even more qualified. Bjorin is 66, Juanda is just 43. Should that matter? Personally I think absolutely not.

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What role does being a nice guy play?

I don't think the HOF should be a popularity contest. Being a "nice guy" isn't one of the criteria. I don't think anyone would classify Johnny Moss or Stu Ungar as nice guys, but both clearly have a place in the poker hall of fame. Now, Tom McEvoy is most certainly a nice guy, and I think that's one of the key reasons he was inducted last year, despite their being more qualified candidates based on the criteria.

This was my argument against Scotty Nguyen's induction being delayed because of his drunken antics during the $50k Player Championship on ESPN. On paper, Scotty fulfilled all the criteria. There is one criteria relating to non players, the builders category, that isn't really applicable to players. The criteria is listed as follows:

Daniel Negreanu is the 2004 CardPlayer Magazine and World Poker Tour Player of the Year. He presents his poker strategies in one-on-one virtual training at pokervt.com and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
Read all of Daniel Negreanu's poker blog and poker articles at Full Contact Poker.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

TheFly
over 4 years ago

Juanda? Sure he's a super nice guy, and one of your early poker friends when you were grinding limit holdem games, but there are others who have more impacted and contributed to the overall game of poker. John Duthie, founder/creator of the EPT comes to mind.

The Poker HOF doesn't have to be just about who won the most money, tournaments, pots, etc. It should also include those who contributed significantly to the overall growth of the industry. What about Mori Eskandani (producer of HSP, PAD, NHUPC, and WSOP), Isai Scheinberg (ok maybe too controversial, but PokerStars is a model for how an online poker site should be run), Steve Lipscomb (WPT founder).

Henry Orenstien rightfully got in for basically the hole-card camera invention, so I think there is room for these other guys who deserve to be honored in the poker HOF for their overall contribution to the industry, imho.

And as far as other HOF's go, usually you have to be out of the game for some period time before being considered. Baseball I believe is 10 years retired before you're eligible. This allows your record and contributions to be fairly judged over the course of time, and not subject to current whims of popularity while still playing.

And finally, I would find it hard to vote for any player into the poker HOF that was associated with or a Red Name pro of Full Tilt Poker. Sorry, that's just how I feel. If you were a Red Pro at Full Tilt, at a minimum you should not be a first ballot inductee. I realize some Pros may not have had any contribution to the fraud, nevertheless a message needs to be sent that if you are associated with a fraud that bilks poker players out of millions, you don't walk into the HOF.

 
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trentbridge
over 4 years ago

I think there's room for a second category for Poker's HOF - those people who made poker tournaments into watchable television programs or introduced significant tournament innovations etc i.e. non-players who have contributed to improving the game and making it more accessible to the general public. The poker players should be a separate category.

 
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texasroadgambler
over 4 years ago

Clearly there are some problems with the nomination process. You will recall that Annie Duke was a nominee a couple of years ago. Clearly she did not meet the criteria for induction. However, she most likely was a finalist because of bot voting from the site that supported her.

Daniel is also correct about being a "nice guy" does not qualify you for induction. His case in point is Tom McEvoy. I agree with Daniel, and I know of no instance in which Tom could qualify if the criteria "must have played for high stakes" was enforced. I wonder if any members besides TJ voted for him? Most of the members are old enough to know that he does not meet that critical criteria.

 
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Bruce50010
over 4 years ago

The Fly is correct. None of the founders and principals of Team Full Tilt should ever be allowed in the Hall of Fame.

Daniel specifically mentioned Gus Hansen. Even without being disgraced by the Full Tilt scandal, what has he done to deserve being in any Hall of Fame? He final tabled a few early WPT tournaments by playing bad cards when sponsored by Full Tilt? Other than that he is best known for losing $20,000,000 playing online poker. A record like that deserves the Hall of Shame, not he Hall of Fame.

 
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Bruce50010
over 4 years ago

Gus has now lost $20,300,000 playing online poker according to CardPlayer's latest update. And Daniel is surprised that his name is not on the Hall of Fame ballot? LOL.

 
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