2009 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Named

Good news: I’ve heard of all of ’em

by , Sep 8, 2009 | 12:16 pm

The official ballot has been released … so basically I’ve got about three weeks to choose Mike Sexton and one other guy from this list, in alphabetical order:


I see two who definitely won’t get my vote. As for the rest, will have to give them some thought. It’s gonna be a tough call. I’ll probably do a bracket.

Click below for the official press release on it all, giving the criteria, PHOF schedule, etc.:


LAS VEGAS (September 8, 2009) – The Poker Hall of Fame has narrowed the list of nominees for the 2009 Class and all that remains is for the 15 living Hall of Fame members and the 15-member Media Panel to cast their votes before we know the inductees.

A total of nine people remain eligible for induction in 2009.

The Induction Ceremony will be part of a special Hall of Fame dinner ceremony on Saturday, November 7 at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas during the dinner break of the Main Event Final Table.

The eligible candidates, in alphabetical order, are as follows:


The voters must determine who among the above list most deserves to be inducted this year. The additional criteria they will consider in their vote are as follows:
• A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
• 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.

The Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council commented on Tom Dwan, an initial nominee in 2009: “With all due respect to Mr. Dwan, one of the games most exciting young players, he does not currently meet the criteria for Hall of Fame selection. We wish him well and expect he will again be considered once he has ‘stood the test of time.’”

Names on the finalist list but not receiving more than 75% of the votes this year will still be eligible for induction in the future.

The voting members will receive their ballots this week and have until October 2, 2009 to submit their completed forms.

Current Hall of Fame members also have the ability to add a write-in candidate – someone they feel deserves consideration for the PHOF – but were not among the list of finalists this year. This write-in candidate will be added to the 2010 nomination list automatically.

For the first time, the inductees will be invited to a special dinner held and hosted in their honor where they will give their induction speech and be awarded their commemorative trophy. All nine of the above finalists will be invited to the dinner, and room will be reserved for additional family, friends, the current Hall of Famers and the media voting panel.

A select handful of seats will be made available to the public via the dinner’s presenting sponsor, JAQK Cellars. For more information on how to be part of this special evening, visit: http://jaqkcellars.com/wine-poker-hall-of-fame-dinner/high-roller-and-world-series-of-poker-vip-ticket

The Poker Hall of Fame, established in 1979, was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment along with the World Series of Poker in 2004. Though the Hall of Fame is virtual in nature, its membership includes poker’s most influential players and other important contributors to the game. There are 15 living members, and 37 members have been bestowed the honor of Poker Hall of Famer. The Poker Hall of Fame traditionally elects one or two members annually. The enshrinement ceremony is now held in concert with the final table of the Main Event of the WSOP, held each November in Las Vegas.

For its three founders, acclaimed winemaker Craig MacLean with Katie Jain and Joel Templin, JAQK Cellars is a passion born out of a love for wine and poker. JAQK, named after the Jack, Ace, Queen and King from a deck of playing cards, was launched in October 2008 in San Francisco, CA. JAQK’s collection of eight limited-production wines are hand-crafted from the Napa Valley and are packaged with an edgy, playful design bringing pleasure to wine lovers before the first sip is even taken. To learn more about JAQK Cellars, visit www.jaqkcellars.com.


Eligible Voters:
• 15 Living Members of the Poker Hall of Fame
• 15-member Media Panel

• All eligible voters to receive the ballot with the 9 names eligible for induction in 2009
• Eligible voters to return ballot with up to 3 names they consider worthy of induction in 2009. (Can vote for less, but no more than 3 names)
• Simple “yes” or “no” next to each candidate will determine inductees. Those receiving at least 75% “yes” votes will be the 2009 Class of the Poker Hall of Fame.

• September 10 – Ballots sent to eligible voters from Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council
• October 2 – Deadline to return final ballots
• November 7 – Induction Ceremony/Dinner – Rio Hotel, Las Vegas

• Among finalists, who is most deserving to be elected this year
• A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
• 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.

• Current Hall of Fame members also have the ability to add a write-in candidate – someone they feel deserves consideration for the PHOF – but were not among the list of finalists this year. This write-in candidate will be added to the 2010 nomination list automatically.
• Any voter who fails to return ballot by deadline will not be counted, and vote-percentage will be based on all voters who returned ballots.

The list of the 37 Poker Hall of Fame members is as follows:

1979: Nick “The Greek” Dandolos; “Wild Bill Hickok”; Edmond Hoyle; Felton “Corky” McCorquodale; Johnny Moss; Red Winn; Sid Wyman
1980: T “Blondie” Forbes
1981: Bill Boyd
1982: Tom Abdo
1983: Joe Bernstein
1984: Murph Harrold
1985: Red Hodges
1986: Henry Green
1987: Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson
1988: Doyle Brunson; Jack “Treetop” Strauss
1989: Fed “Sarge” Ferris
1990: Benny Binion
1991: David “Chip” Reese
1992: Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston
1993: Jack Keller
1996: Julius Oral “Little Man” Popwell
1997: Roger Moore
2001: Stu “The Kid” Ungar
2002: Lyle Berman; Johnny Chan
2003: Bobby Baldwin
2004: Berry Johnston
2005: Crandall Addington; Jack Binion
2006: Billy Baxter; T.J. Cloutier
2007: Barbara Enright; Phil Hellmuth
2008: Henry Orenstein; Duane “Dewey” Tomko
2009: ???

47 Comments to “2009 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Named ”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    So they took the original list and removed Durrr. Seems reasonable to me.

    Also, you’re going to give up one of your votes, the PR says you can vote for up to 3.

  2. Fifth Street Journal

    Barry and Ivey are the only ones on the list who’ve played at the highest stakes and won for an extended time. I think they both deserve spots eventually, and Barry has definitely already earned a spot, which I hope he gets this year or next.

    I can understand excluding durrrr because he doesn’t meet the criteria, but do some of the others? E.g. Men Nguyen. I don’t believe he plays high-stakes poker and many of his tournament cashes (and POY awards) are due to cashes in sub-$1000 buyin donkaments.

  3. Losty

    Well, I’ll bite, Mike Sexton is your automatic, and you COULD vote for 2 more..

    The question “Who are you voting for” is moot until you cast, but who Won’t you vote for..

    You’re eliminating 2, Who & why?

  4. Kevin Mathers

    I think Dan’s referring to the two Nguyen’s.

  5. traction

    if you have the same name as someone else on this list you both are probably not getting into the HOF.

  6. DanM

    One Nguyen, and one other guy who isn’t old enough yet.

  7. Kevin Mathers

    I see two who aren’t old enough yet, one who’s actually acknowledged it.

  8. BJ Nemeth

    The Media Voting Panel gets invited to the induction dinner? And I thought I was bummed about not getting an invite before … 🙁

  9. Kevin Mathers

    Who’s the 15 that make up the Poker Hall of Fame Media Panel?

  10. BJ Nemeth

    The 15 media invitations weren’t given to individuals, but rather to media outlets, with one vote per outlet. Dan Michalski didn’t receive a vote; Pokerati.com did.

    I have the list of media outlets represented, but I’m not sure if it’s meant to be public yet. I’ll double-check, and I’ll post it here on Pokerati if it’s cleared. The actual individuals doing the voting might not even be officially set yet.

  11. scott diamond

    Is my name on the list B.J.?? LOL………………

    Men the Master should have a lifetime ban and I don’t think many of you would argue that.

    Demeanor should play a large roll for an inductee in my opinion and he and Scotty have become arrogant and verbally abusive to their peers which is WRONG.

    Barry and Dan Harrington are my picks.. Mike Sexton as great a player he is, is twice the announcer and should be in the Hall for his TV skills as well.

    Eric Seidel 8 bracelets quiet and very professional, Phil Ivey still a little young but if he wins the ME next year he is a shoe in for the HOF.

    Daniel has been very entertaining and at times has some sick reading skills and also success, but he still may be a tad young yet also.

    I am sorry do not know a lot about Tom even though he was a ME winner and the Tournament Of Champions winner this year. Maybe another time.

  12. Steve L.

    ҉ۢ Eligible voters to return ballot with up to 3 names they consider worthy of induction in 2009. (Can vote for less, but no more than 3 names)
    • Simple “yes” or “no” next to each candidate will determine inductees. Those receiving at least 75% “yes” votes will be the 2009 Class of the Poker Hall of Fame.”

    Have they done it this way before? IMHO, that doesn’t make sense at all. I’m ok with either of those two points, but both of them together make it a distinct possibilty no one will qualify. The 75% criteria is messed up. Legitimate candidates are taking votes away from other legitimate candiates. The baseball HOF uses the same 75% number, but you can vote for as many candidates as you like.

  13. Jeff H

    Actually Steve L., you can only vote for a maximum of 10 candidates in Baseball Hall of Fame voting in a year. Depending on the year, it could be 10 out of 23 (this year, an all-time low) or 10 out of over 30 (2007).

  14. DanM

    Mike Sexton will definitely get one of my votes, and the others are up for sale to the highest bidders. Seems a fair way to make a decision to me … because if you can’t afford to bribe a judge, do you really deserve to be in the PHOF?

  15. David

    I don’t quite understand how they set this up. How can Negreanu be on the ballot but not Allen Cunningham?

  16. Poker Shrink

    You can also vote for someone not on the official list and they will automatically be added to the 2010 preliminary list. With that said, I will lobby for Andy Glazer being your third vote.

  17. Steve L.

    Jeff, Thanks for the baseball HOF lesson 🙂
    I still think the poker HOF voting is seriously messed up. We’ll see if anyone even makes the 75% threshold.

  18. Fifth Street Journal

    Maybe they should add a provision to remove HOF members added before the process was so organized. Wild Bill Hickok and Edmond Hoyle FTL? Sounds like it started off more as a museum exhibit than a hall of fame.

  19. DanM

    Frankly, FSJ, I think that is what they are doing here … trying to establish themselves as the real Hall of Fame.

    Technically, you could gather a bunch of memorabilia together and give out awards and start your own PHOF … and there would be some debate for a few years over which one is the real one. But in the end, it seems the WSOP has the most resources to start with.

  20. DanM

    *** With that said, I will lobby for Andy Glazer being your third vote.***

    I dunno, Shrink … indeed, he’s been the go-to guy when it came to showing us what was possible in everyday poker reporting, and back in the day he was the only guy ever wanting to report against the wishes of the “no, that wouldn’t be good for poker” oligarchy … but coming from one of “us”, i think that would just look like a ploy to give a certain group of people who have long abandoned dreams of “making it” at the table a chance to get into the Hall of Fame.

    But with that in mind, you gotta ask … what non-players do deserve consideration? Might “legendary” tournament directors or poker-room managers also make worthy additions? Writers like Al Alvarez, Tony Holden, or Jim McManus?

    What about major executives like Pollack, Lipscomb, or Bitar? (Lyle Berman is already in.)

  21. BJ Nemeth

    Dan’s exactly right — anyone can start a Poker Hall of Fame, because there is no governing body. The WPT established a “World Poker Tour Walk of Fame” in 2004, but haven’t done anything with it since. Consider that one dead. (Actor James Garner was one of the three players “inducted,” along with Doyle Brunson and Gus Hansen.)

    @Fifth Street Journal — You would deny Edmond Hoyle induction into the Poker Hall of Fame? Would you also deny the Wright Brothers access to the Aviation Hall of Fame?

    Wild Bill Hickock lacks the same credentials, of course, but there was clearly an attempt to broaden the Hall of Fame to cover the entire history of poker. And with the early history of poker a mystery, the best they could come up with is the most famous (infamous) poker player of that era. In my mind, Hickock represents all the unknown players who kept our game alive and prospering during the 19th Century.

  22. BJ Nemeth

    The criteria for non-players is clearly listed in the rules:

    “Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.”

    If Pollack continues as Commissioner for a long time, and you can see substantial improvements during his administration, then I’d be willing to vote for him. Running a popular tournament or popular poker room for a long time does not qualify for a nomination, in my opinion.

    That’s not to say tournament directors can’t qualify, but they have to do something substantial to “contribute to the overall growth and success” of poker with “lasting results.” Creating the satellite tournament is a big deal, as is creating the freezeout tournament structure. Henry Orenstein got inducted (deservedly so) for creating the hole cam.

    Did Andy Glazer contribute substantially to the overall growth and success of poker with lasting results? I’m not sure, because to be honest, I don’t know enough about him and his work. I met him briefly before he died (we only worked the same tournament once — the 2004 WSOP Main Event), and I have read quite a few of his tournament reports. But I definitely need to do more research and talk to people who knew Andy and worked/played alongside of him before I’d consider inducting him into the Poker Hall of Fame. I wasn’t an active member of the poker community during Andy Glazer’s peak years, so I’d need to consult people who were.

    And Dan is exactly right that there is a conflict of interest when it comes to nominating Andy Glazer. If I have a long career as a poker writer/tournament reporter, my chances of being in the Poker Hall of Fame someday go up if Andy Glazer is inducted. No need to point out how premature this line of thought is (at least by 10-15 years), because I know that. But I can’t deny that it is in the back of my mind.

    I wish I knew more about the early days of online poker, because surely one or two people (more?) made some key decisions that led to the popularity of the online game, and deserve to be inducted. The current rules restrict nominations to people, or else I’d suggest that the movie “Rounders” deserves a nomination. It definitely made an impact on a lot of the players who are currently in the game, and is frequently cited as an influence for people to start playing.

  23. DanM

    I was thinking about the likes of a Kathy Raymond … poker room manager at The Venetian. Apparently she deserves a lot of credit for the trend in “Deep Stacks” tourneys (which if I understand correctly, she brought over from Foxwoods).

    I’m not saying someone who has been running a few good poker rooms for a few years is that special … but over time, someone like her, or Matt Savage … where do they fit in?

    If we do start considering prominent TD’s, I could see the selection process getting delicightfully vicious and political!

  24. scott diamond

    Whose your Huckleberry B.J., Dan?

  25. BJ Nemeth

    The trend in deep-stacked tourneys is still relatively new — far too premature to consider that for nomination into the Poker Hall of Fame. I’d also argue that it’s not necessarily a positive change for the poker industry. It’s a positive from the marketing side, and a negative from the competitive side. But it also helps boost prizepools.

    Even if deep-stacked tournaments become a long-term, positive trend, I don’t think it’s big enough. I would only consider *major* improvements to the game/industry, like freezeout tournaments, satellites, hole cams, and things of that nature. Deep-stack tournaments sort of pale by comparison, don’t they?

    The Tournament Director’s Association was a major change in the poker industry, and I do think that some of the people involved with that (particularly Matt Savage and Linda Johnson) will eventually be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame with that as a contributing factor. (But not the only factor.)

    June Field, a woman, started Card Player magazine, and was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame this summer for that reason. Did Andy Glazer have a bigger impact on poker than June Field? I haven’t put full research into it yet, but my gut feeling says no.

  26. DanM

    I will protest the inclusion of Matt Savage because he once supported a one-card-at-a-time flop (for poker dome), which in my opinion makes him the Van Jones of poker, lol.

    You make some fine points above — the guy who invented satellites, for example … was it eric drache, also an accomplished player and major TV guy? … deserves consideration — but the one thing I gotta call you out on, BJ … Deep Stacks tourneys being negative from the competitive side?

    Deep Stacks make things MORE competitive … more skill based, and yet the less skilled also have a little more time to get lucky. The relevance with these tourneys is that they changed poker rooms’ approach to bringing players in. Low stakes players used to not have this option to even play in this sort of skill-based event.

  27. BJ Nemeth

    You fell for the marketing, Dan. 🙂

    If you increase the stack sizes without increasing the duration of the tournament, you create a bottleneck in the middle of the tournament where the structures speed up (by necessity). Deep stacks increase the amount of skill in the early stages of a tournament (when it really doesn’t matter much), and decrease the amount of skill in the middle and later stages of a tournament (when the stakes are much higher).

    If you increase the size of the stacks *and* increase the duration of the tournament, then yes, that increases the skill involved. But compare the blind structures from the upcoming Borgata “deep-stack” event to Matt Savage’s relatively short-stacked WPT Commerce main event last February. Any experienced player will be able to tell you which one has the better blind structure for a skilled player.

    Matt Savage had a great article about this recently in 2+2 Magazine:

    And Dan Michalski linked to that same article here on Pokerati:

    As you said then in your own words: “Indeed, I agree that too often people think simply adding more chips leads to better everything — but don’t consider myriad other factors that come into play over the course of hours (or days) in a timed event that takes you from X number of players ultimately to just one.”

  28. BJ Nemeth

    Yes, Eric Drache developed the satellite tournament, among other things. And as you can guess by my earlier comments, he definitely deserves to be one of the non-players eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  29. DanM

    the deep stacks tourneys i was thinking about do indeed have longer levels — and therefore are longer tourneys.

    you used to never have poker rooms willing to let their tourney (intending to draw people into the cash games, of course) run all day and all night — let alone spread it over two days.

    in the specific example i provided here, you are right … way to early to think about. but in general was just trying to figure out who else should be crossing our minds, you know, so the masses don’t try to send the likes of Durrr again.

  30. BJ Nemeth

    I think involving the public is a good idea, but I also think they need a little more guidance. Give them a broad list of potential players to consider (plus a few non-players), and also set a few age/career guidelines. (Players must be at least 35 years old *and* have played poker at the highest levels for at least 10 years.)

    Another advantage of having a clear time-based qualifying criteria is that someone like Ivey or Negreanu could then become a “first-ballot Hall of Famer,” which should have meaning in poker just like it does in other sports.

  31. BJ Nemeth

    FYI, in my proposal, fans would still be allowed to write-in nominations. But the criteria would give them better guidance as to why players like Durrr, Ivey, and Negreanu don’t qualify … yet.

    Also, the broad list of potential players would include at least a one-line bio for context, so fans don’t skim past someone like Eric Drache or June Field simply because they don’t know the name.

  32. DanM

    I don’t like the idea of creating a “guide” for fans. i don’t think they do that in other sports. you can’t expect the fans to know in baseball, for example, about some legendary umpire from the Negro Leagues.

    let it happen mostly naturally … if a sponsoring web site wants to do some PR for their guy, great … but with the WSOP having at least some influence in the hall of fame, I wouldn’t want to open it up to corruption should the Harrah’s suits have some reason to want to see a certain person get included.

    I don’t think they are trying to do that, btw, but it could eventually happen going down your route, despite the good intentions.

  33. Poker Shrink

    TDs will always be an issue if for no other reason than Harrah’s has fired some of the best of them.

  34. BJ Nemeth

    You make a good point, and I retract that suggestion for a variety of reasons. (Another big problem — who gets on the list and who doesn’t?)

    However, I have bad news for you. The Harrah’s suits already have a lot of weight in determining the final nominees. Under this year’s system, the Harrah’s suits exert their influence *after* the fans vote. (They can deny nominations by fans — Durrr — and add others as they please.) Under my proposal, the suits would have most of their influence *before* the fans.

    Also, if anyone hasn’t read it yet, check out Short-Stacked Shamus’s blog post about the Hall of Fame vote. He makes some interesting points I haven’t seen elsewhere. (Though I think the likelihood of nobody being inducted this year is effectively nil — Mike Sexton is an absolute lock.)


  35. DanM

    Yeah, the TD fights can be cut-throat. Some of the ones you have described as the best, Shrink … I have heard other TD’s call crooks.

  36. Poker Shrink

    and for the “too young” argument”

    Allen Cunningham 32
    Phil Ivey 33
    Daniel Negreanu 35
    Erik Seidel 50
    Tom Dwan 14

  37. BJ Nemeth

    Anything that requires a vote involves politics. But if you restrict non-players to substantial achievements that have positively affected poker over the long-term (rather than just being a really good tournament director), then that reduces the potential for personal conflicts to affect the vote.

    Also, the Hall of Fame is ultimately determined by the voters, who are the living members and 15-20 members of the media. (The number of media votes may increase as more players get inducted, but the media will never have more votes than the living Hall of Famers.)

    Being a crook is not a disqualifier, by the way. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think Benny Binion belongs in the Hall of Fame (he was inducted in 1990), but this was a man with a long criminal record who was CONVICTED OF MURDER — *twice.*

    What matters is his contribution to the game of poker. And Binion’s contribution is undeniably Hall of Fame worthy.

  38. Kevin Mathers

    There’s pretty few Halls of Fame that let the public decide. It wouldn’t hurt to do a guide of possible nominees. When I started the thread over on 2+2 about the nomination process, the list of possible candidates I gave was the following:

    Mike Sexton
    Barry Greenstein
    David Sklansky
    Erik Seidel
    Steven Lipscomb
    Terry Rogers

    It would also help if there was an age requirement; Chip Reese is considered the greatest all-around poker player of all time, and he made the PHOF at 40. That should be more than enough time for the “test of time” in the age of online poker.

  39. Kevin Mathers

    If I had a vote, here’s what my ballot would look like:

    PHIL IVEY – no
    TOM McEVOY – no
    MEN NGUYEN – no
    ERIK SEIDEL – yes
    MIKE SEXTON – yes

  40. DanM

    curious kevin … why siedel and greenstein?

    i know seidel has the bracelets and then some … but why this year and not next?
    and greenstein? you know he doesn’t really give all his tourney winnings to charity any more, right?

    and why not harrington?

    mcevoy will probably be the most bitter for not getting proper props after winning the champions invitational.

  41. DanM

    also … might we see just one guy get in this year? that might not be a bad idea (if the votes work out that way) while the hall of fame massages its criteria. Sexton is the only one who would get in under just about any criteria.

  42. BJ Nemeth

    I think everyone on that list eventually gets into the Hall of Fame, with the possible exceptions of Men Nguyen and Tom McEvoy.

    For McEvoy, this year could be his best shot. The Champions Invitational gave him a bump in exposure, but over time it will become more and more meaningless. I don’t think he’ll ever be at the top of anyone’s list, as there are still a *lot* of worthy candidates out there who aren’t even on this list. If McEvoy doesn’t make it this year, he’s gonna need another high-profile victory to get back on the radar.

    McEvoy’s future chances could improve if they expand the induction rules to allow more people to be elected in a given year, but I don’t think that’s likely. This year, it’s mathematically limited to three players. Before this new voting system was implemented, there were never more than two people inducted in a single year, except for 1979 when Benny Binion started the Hall of Fame with seven players.

  43. Kevin Mathers

    I’m well aware that the Bear no longer donates all of his tournament winnings to charity. However, he does meet all of the other criteria listed. I was torn between doing Harrington and Seidel for the 3rd vote.

  44. Fifth Street Journal

    @BJ Nemeth: I must disagree with the Wright brothers comment. They built the first airplane; Hoyle didn’t invent poker.

    The answer to “why Barry” for me is basically the he was as good as anyone in the world in the biggest game in the world for a long stretch when his competition included Chip. His non-poker contributions are also impressive.

  45. Fifth Street Journal

    Nice list of potential nominees Kevin. I don’t claim to be an expert in poker history, but from what I’ve read it sounds like Eric Drache might deserve a nomination. Sklansky sounds reasonable to me too. As an Irish-American I’m thrilled to see Terry Rogers on that list, but I wasn’t aware that his contribution to poker was HOF-worthy.

  46. Kevin Mathers

    Eric Drache is definitely another worthy candidate. I included Terry Rogers because the list of legitimate members of the Poker Hall of Fame are US-based. Hopefully a future goal will be to consider qualified candidates from other countries.

  47. Fifth Street Journal

    How about the first guy to put hole-card cam poker on TV (Late Night Poker), before Lipscomb et al? Your mention of non-US candidates reminded me of that. I’d credit Nic Szeremeta, though some might argue for Rob Gardner.