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2016 Poker Hall of Fame Breakdown

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Sep 15, '16

Read this:

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

When you are done reading it... read it again. Does it say anywhere that a player needs to be a good ambassador for the game? Does it say anywhere that it matters how much the nominees donated to children's charities? No. It doesn't.

If you are voting, and disagree with the criteria for entry, raise that issue, but please respect the rules and vote accordingly. This isn't a popularity contest nor is it a place to just get people you think are nice guys in. A player should be judged based on the criteria designed for player inductions. A non-player should be judged for their work in the industry. So, a guy like Chris Moneymaker, for example, should be judged solely as a player. Which means that any of the great things he has done over the years as an ambassador for the game have no relevance. He is to be judged by the criteria designed for players.

With that said, let's take a look at the list of nominees in terms of how many check marks they get based on the criteria.

Chris Bjorin 5/5
Humberto Brenes 4/5
Todd Brunson 5/5
Eli Elezra 3/5
Bruno Fitoussi 3/5
Chris Moneymaker 2/5
Carlos Mortensen 5/5
Max Pescatori 3/5
Matt Savage 1/1
David 'Devilfish' Ulliott. 5/5

I have 4 of the nominees down as clearly qualifying. The others you could debate, but it's my vote and I get to cast it based on my perception of these candidates. In addition to that, I look at who BEST meets the criteria. Not just someone who meets its minimums, but a player who excelled in each area. While some of the nominees meet the criteria, there is a list of players I could name that meet it more strongly. I came up with a list of players that were not nominated, that likely should have been:

David Chiu-
5 WSOP Bracelets
Tournament of Champions Winner
WPT Championship Winner
$8 million in tournament earnings
Great at all games in both tournament and cash game formats

Huck Seed-
WSOP Main Event Champion
4 WSOP Bracelets
$7.6 million in tournament earnings
Played the highest stakes against the worlds best in cash games

John Duthie (builder category)
Created the EPT from scratch by going country to country working on deals to host events across nations with challenging regulations. Made TV deals to give the events added prestige, and today, the EPT is the largest and most successful poker tour in the world

David Oppenhiem-
One of the most consistent and biggest cash game winners over the last 20 years playing in the highest stakes games around
$1.8 million in tournaments on an extremely limited tourney schedule
Highly respected among his peers in all games

Ray Dehkharghani-
1 WSOP Bracelet
$1.6 million in tournaments on an extremely limited tourney schedule
Many will argue he is the best mixed game player in the world today and has been consistently in the biggest games in the world for 20 years
Highly respected among his peers in all games

Isai Scheinberg (builder category)
Changed the poker landscape forever with the creation of PokerStars the worlds biggest poker brand and industry leader. Saved many in the poker industry by buying Full Tilt Poker and repaying millions of dollars to players who were unlikely to ever recoup their money.

Jeff Lisandro-
6 WSOP Bracelets (3 Stud format bracelets in the same year)
$5.4 million in tournament earnings
Winning High Stakes Cash Game Player

John Hennigan-
4 WSOP Bracelets
Winner of the $50k Players Championship
$6.8 million in tournament earnings
Winning High Stakes Cash Game Player

I can't tell you how many people I've had reach out to me to tell me how much more fitting my list is compared to the list of nominees for 2016. It's just a crying shame that players like David Oppenhiem and Ray Dehkharghani don't get nominated because the fans likely have no idea who they are. They don't play on TV, instead they just make millions in the cash games and every great mixed game player both knows who they are and respects their games immensely.

It's also likely that members of the poker media are not privy to how good or bad these cash game players are. There is no way to keep score, so all they can really do is poll the players that actually play against them.

The poker world has changed a great deal over the last 15 years and a wider audience of people pays attention to the game. Prior to the poker boom the people deciding who would be nominated and inducted into the poker hall of fame had intimate knowledge of the players and who made the most sense. Today that's all been blurred by the process. Too many people who really don't have insight into who is most deserving are having an effect on the list of nominees that get put forth.

I haven't decided yet how I am going to divvy up my votes, but what I can tell you is that if I didn't give someone a 5/5 or a 1/1 on the criteria, I will not be voting for them. The one guy who sticks out for me from this years class is: Carlos Mortensen

WSOP Main Event Champion
WPT Championship Winner
2 WSOP Bracelets
3-Time WPT Winner
All-Time Money Leader on the WPT
$12 million in tournament earnings

I don't think Carlos has much to offer on his resume in terms of cash games, but his results in a limited tournament schedule compared to your typical tournament player is just remarkable. It's too good to ignore. He has been dominant in tournaments and I would argue that he may have the highest ROI in tournaments of anyone over 30 years old (Fedor is not 30 yet right???)

So one thing I'm sure on is that Carlos will be getting my vote. The question is, will I give him all 10 of my votes or spread them around? I'm not sure yet, but I do believe the Matador is deserving of the honor.
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
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