Brunson Weighs In on Poker Hall of Fame Nominees

by , Aug 4, 2009 | 10:15 am

Doyle Brunson has become quite open in his blogs and tweets over the past year or so, which is great for poker, in my opinion. Being privy to his opinions on issues gives the poker community a perspective from one who’s been in the game longer than most. His latest “deep thoughts” pertain to the Poker Hall of Fame, as his membership in the elite club garners him a chance to vote on this year’s list of nominees.

He pulls no punches, noting in his latest blog post that Mike Sexton is his top pick, and he also likes Tom McEvoy, Erik Seidel, Scotty Nguyen, and Barry Greenstein. Interesting that he notes he’s admired Men the Master’s “work ethic” for years without any mention of numerous and widespread allegations of him cheating in live games.

With Doyle ready to make his picks, his thoughts likely echo many of the other Hall of Fame voters. See below for specifics:

Remember, these are my thoughts. If you don’t agree with me, please don’t start a civil war about it.

The criteria for selection is:
(1) Must have played against top competition.
(2) Played for high stakes.
(3) Played consistently well, gaining respect of their peers.
(4) Stood the test of time.
(5) Contributed to the overall growth and success of poker with positive and lasting results.

Here are the players in alphabetical order and my opinions about each one.

(1) Tom Dwan – It’s really an honor for Tom to be a nominee at the age of 22. Obviously, he can’t meet the criteria that are listed. I think he is a fine player and barring something unforeseen, his picture will be on the wall someday.

(2) Barry Greenstein – Barry meets all the requirements. I think he was a much better choice when he was a cash game player only. He is in my top 3 or 4 choices.

(3) Dan Harrington – “Action Dan” as he is known would be a good representative of the poker world. He has a lot of interests outside poker, which will go against him.

(4) Phil Ivey – This is where I’ll get a lot of heat, because I think the Halls of Fame for any sport is for players whose careers have more to look back at than look forward to. Phil isn’t even at the height of his career yet but is a 100% cinch to be inducted soon. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to lose this argument which is OK if I do.

(5) Tom McEvoy – Tom is a long time ambassador of poker and is one of the old guys that I favor. I understand that playing for high stakes is different for everybody. You have to be a little bit crazy to play the stakes some of us play for, but Tom has put his time in at the tables.

(6) Men Nguyen – I’ve admired Men’s work ethic for years. Nobody has played and supported tournaments as much as Men. He has several player of the year awards as proof of that.

(7) Scotty Nguyen – Anybody that is called “The Prince of Poker” has to be a viable candidate. He is one of the best all-around players and he certainly meets the criteria well.

(8) Daniel Negreanu – What can I say here? go back and read what I said about Phil Ivey and pretend it’s here. Daniel is my choice to outlast any of the “young guns” people keep talking about Daniel and Phil both meet all 5 criteria.

(9) Eric Seidel – Eric is definitely one of my top choices. I think he is the consummate gambler. Besides being a great player, he has the best all-around disposition of anyone. He reminds me of Chip Reese, which is the highest compliment I can pay anyone.

(10) Mike Sexton – In my opinion, here is the #1 choice. Mike paid his dues at the table for years, gambled as high as his bankroll allowed and meets all the requirements for induction. Mostly, go back and read #5 in the criteria. Nobody and I mean nobody has contributed more to the success of poker than Mike Sexton. If he isn’t one of the people selected, something is wrong. I know of 3 votes from the living members at the HOF that Mike will get. Binion and Crandell Addington both assure me Mike will be their 1st choice, also.


  • Kevin Mathers

    Sexton and Seidel are the logical choices from that lineup. Ivey and Negreanu will eventually get in, but there probably should be an age limit as to who can be elected, for the stands the test of time criteria.

  • http://pokerati.com/?author=117 California Jen

    I suppose they’re trusting the voters to recognize that the younger players don’t meet the criteria. If they institute an age limit, it would keep people like Stu out of the Hall of Fame.

  • Kevin Mathers

    I’d think something along the lines of 35 or 40 would be sufficient criteria.

  • http://pokershrink.blogspot.com Poker Shrink

    Not to derail the thread but do we really need more rules here?

    There are five criteria, I think we should assume the voters understand the world of poker well enough to make a reasoned selection.

  • Kevin Mathers

    I’d assume the Poker HOF members have their own internal rules re: the “stands the test of time” requirement.

  • DanM

    when do we vote? am i missing a deadline?

  • Kevin Mathers

    From the WSOP Media Guide:

    • In August, the Hall of Fame committee will then spend the month reviewing the public’s nominations
    and determine if any others should be added (such as non-poker players who have contributed greatly
    to the game, any glaring omissions, etc.) and determine the final list of nominees.
    • In September, a finalist ballot will be sent to the current Hall of Famers (16 living) who will each rank the
    nominees in order of preference – yet only ranking those they deem worthy of admission in 2009. Each
    Hall of Famer will also have the ability to add a write-in candidate, whom won’t be eligible for admission
    in 2009, but will automatically be added to the consideration list for 2010. In addition, a select group of
    media members (not to exceed the number of HOF voting members) will also be sent a ballot for
    ranking the finalists. All votes will be cast in private, with each HOF and media member entitled to keep
    their vote secret but not obligated to. After receiving back all ballots, the HOF committee reviews the
    selections and helps finalize any tiebreakers or errors.
    • Any finalist receiving 75% or more of the votes will be inducted.

  • JaKat

    I agree with a lot of Doyle’s reasoning. Ivey and Negreanu are both extremely talented, but really seem kind of young for induction. They’re both going to be around for a long time (one would expect) and they’ll certainly get their entries. Add Durr to this list too, assuming he doesn’t somehow implode over the next 20 years.

    I also like Doyle’s choices of Sexton and Seidel. They’d be on my ballot, with Greenstein and Harrington filling out the top four. McEvoy and Scotty are kind of a toss up for me as both are accomplished players. Scotty may be more volatile and more of a showman (which I think can both help and hurt him) while McEvoy is kind of an enigma. He’s really a wild card for me.

    That leaves Men, who is the only player on this list whom I would never vote into the HOF. Sure, he’s been around for a long time and he’s had his share of success, but there are too many questions about his ethics and tactics for me to ever endorse him for this honor.

  • http://pokerati.com/?author=117 California Jen

    Dan, you missed the deadline for public voting. The public’s votes came up with the 10 finalists, and now the decision is up to the living Hall of Fame members and a few select members of the media (whoever that may be).

  • DanM

    Jen, please … do you ever know me to just hang with the public. You know I won’t go to a club without having my name on at least some sort of list!

    :P
    My votes do indeed count more — and I’m relying on Pokeratizens to keep me from doing anything foolish with it. Right now I’m leaning toward Mike Sexton and Pete Rose.

  • J

    Generally in leagues of competition, players actively participating and seeking to improve on their career accomplishments are not placed on a ballot for the Hall of Fame…I mean I’m not sure when Tiger Woods will be entered into the golf Hall of Fame, but I don’t imagine it will be for some time.

  • Kevin Mathers

    Tiger isn’t eligible to be elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame until he’s 40:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Golf_Hall_of_Fame#PGA_Tour.2FChampions_Tour_ballot

  • J

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention – and now I can’t believe Vijay Singh was inducted at age 42 without being retired. What a joke. What is there to gain by adding age as a requirement unless you’re desperate to find inductees?

    It seems to me pretty silly to put someone in the Hall of Fame of anything while they’re still in pursuit of achievement and not retired (as they do in the NFL or MLB). But seeing that retiring from sitting at table would take many more years than retiring from the field of sport, it begs the question – what do they do for Chess or other forms of competitive gaming similar to that of Poker?

    Anyway, throwing someone in the Hall of Fame while they’re still participating seems as premature as the WSOP handing out the Player of the Year before the end of the main event.

  • http://pokershrink.blogspot.com Poker Shrink

    You don’t retire from poker, you die!

  • http://pokerroad.com/nation/photos BJ Nemeth

    What Poker Shrink said. If we waited for people to retire from poker before inducting them, it would be nothing but deceased players. Poker differs from athletic sports in this way, because you can practically play from your deathbed.

    Trust the voters. Personally, I require at least a decade of playing at the highest levels, and at least 35 years old. Those are the minimum requirements before I even consider somebody. That doesn’t mean I’ll vote for Ivey when he turns 35 either — if a player is still at or near their peak, then I would likely put off their vote for a future ballot.