Poker Hall of Fame Breakdown (Part One)

by , Sep 16, 2010 | 9:39 pm

With the 2010 Hall of Fame voting underway amongst readers of Pokerati, it makes sense to try and take an objective look at the players to see what their contributions have been and whether they merit entry into the Hall come November. Now, there are standards that all voters are expected to consider during the process, and I hope to reflect that throughout this series. With that said, it does make sense to put up some stats on each player before delving into the reasons for why I would/wouldn’t vote for them, so here are the categories I will look into:

  • Age (because I am a proponent of the Chip Resse Rule)
  • Time active in poker as a professional
  • Recognized Tournament/Cash Stakes played at both peak of performance and now
  • Tournament Accolades (WSOP/WPT/EPT Titles/Cashes, relevant important other tournament wins)
  • Contributions off the felt

At the end of each candidate I will add my own personal thoughts as well as how many points I would give a particular person (out of 10) if I felt like I just had to vote for the candidate on the ballot. Just for reference, I think I need to at least explain the “final score” a little bit. If a 1 is “Not Deserving” and a 10 is “Should have already been inducted”, and the other numbers are varying degrees between the two extremes. A 5 would be that they are deserving of entry in the hall, but not necessarily this year. So you can do the math to figure out where things far. At the end of this series, I will take the three highest point totals and use that to determine who I would vote for on my ballot for this year’s HoF class. I may not have a vote, but I might be able to help persuade others that may.

Because of the obvious length this would inevitably be if I did all 10 players in one go; I’ll be going in alphabetical order in a four part series. The first three, which you can see by clicking below, are Chris Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, and Jennifer Harman(-Traniello).

Chris Ferguson

Age: 47
Time Played: Over 20 years, as a professional for 11
Tournament/Cash Stakes: Consistently high buy-in WSOP tournaments, not a heavy cash game player

  • 5 WSOP Bracelets
  • 63 WSOP Cashes
  • 2008 NBC Heads-up Champion
  • Tournament winnings: $8,056,000
  • Member of Team Full Tilt

Off the Felt:

  • Helped launch Full Tilt Poker and was a developer of its software

Thoughts: Chris has only been in professional poker for 11 years, which puts him in the same category as other, younger players in Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu. Still, he has amassed an impressive resume in a short amount of time, with 5 bracelets and the third most cashes in WSOP history. His tournament skills alone should be enough to get him in the hall. However, his cash game prowess is lacking, and is not found very much at the biggest games in Vegas or online, so that has to be a point against him. Also, while he has a lot of bracelets, they were all pre-Moneymaker boom, so it remains to be seen just how well Chris can compete in the new internet age.

Final Points: 4

Barry Greenstein

Age: 55
Time Played: Professionally for over 20 years
Tournament/Cash Stakes: Consistently high buy-in WSOP tournaments, frequent member of the biggest cash games in Las Vegas

  • 3 WSOP Bracelets
  • 46 WSOP cashes
  • 2 WPT Titles
  • Tournament winnings: $7,144,000
  • Member of Team Pokerstars Pro

Off the Felt:

  • Wrote Ace on the River, a highly influential poker book.
  • Dubbed “The Robin Hood of Poker”, has notably pledged tournament winnings to charities in the past
  • Co-founded Pokerroad Radio, and continues to produce content and promote the site.

Thoughts: Barry is a staple in “The Big Game” and he has done exceptionally well in tournaments as well. His tournament stats actually show that he was not a big tournament player until after the Moneymaker Boom, and as a matter of fact all his WPT and WSOP titles come after 2003. His continued success in the game over a long period of time, as well as starting in a time when being a professional poker player was not exactly a well-thought-of profession, certainly gives him longevity in the sport. The only blemishes are that he “only” has 3 bracelets despite his long career, and that he actually hasn’t cashed in the main event (at least according to Hendon Mob). Still, he certainly has only played against the best for years, and is still here, so Barry must be doing something right.

Final Points: 7

Jennifer Harman-Traniello

Age: 45
Time Played: Professionally for over 15 years
Tournament/Cash Stakes: Consistently high buy-in WSOP tournaments, frequent member of the biggest cash games in Las Vegas

  • 2 WSOP Bracelets
  • 24 WSOP cashes
  • Tournament winnings: $2,609,000
  • Member of Team Full Tilt

Off the Felt:

  • Contributed to Super System II’s chapter on Limit Hold’em

Thoughts: Now, I don’t really understand the bile for Jen Harman. I’ve seen a lot of “NEVER HAPPENING” and lumping together her with Tom McEvoy in the category of “useless” (more on that when I get to him in part 3). And a lot of this is unwarranted. Yes, she gets the bump for being a female in some people’s eyes, but lets be fair, she was playing poker long before the boom, and is just happy to be playing the game, gender didn’t really play a role here. So, while she’s not the first, but she is one of the best and has been for a while. That said, you can tell right off the bat that her resume languishes behind the previous two players. Only two bracelets (both before 2003), and a significantly lower number of cashes and winnings than either Chris or Barry. So even if I could give her credit for helping pioneer women in poker (something, again, I recognize she would not be the first in), I can’t really justify giving a higher score to her than the other two. She is still here and still playing, but we can’t “keep score” as easily in cash games as we can with tournaments. She might get to the hall eventually (and probably should), but its not happening with this list of candidates to go up against. (Note: I did feel like I had more to say about Jennifer Harman because she has been getting quite a bit of negative press regarding her nomination. I wrote this before reading Gary Wise’s article on the subject, and admittedly I think his thoughts mirror my own.)

Final Points: 2

So that will do it for the first three candidates. Be sure to discuss these and point out anything that I might have missed, it may influence the final tally, and I’d note who or what swayed me one way or another if it came to that. Just take note that my evaluations do not necessarily represent Pokerati’s decision toward the WSOP Hall of Fame, I am just providing an additional perspective.

Sunday: Dan Harrington, Phil Ivey, and Linda Johnson.

4 Comments to “Poker Hall of Fame Breakdown (Part One)”

  1. DanM

    You realize you only get 10 points total?

    Here’s an update on how the Mock voting is going:
    Harrington – 137
    Seidel – 83
    Ivey – 54
    Johnson – 48
    Greenstein – 42
    McEvoy – 37
    Moneymaker (Write-in) – 20
    Nguyen – 17
    Ferguson – 14
    Negreanu – 12
    Harman – 4

  2. Mark Gahagan

    I do realize that. The idea is to score everyone on a scale of 10, then take the top 3 and re-evaluate (which is why its a four parter). There is a method to the madness, I assure you, though I’m trying not to be persuaded by any mock polls or other declarations of opinion.

  3. DanM

    lol, sorry about that, dude. didn’t mean to key your assessment/give away the ending!

  4. Mark Gahagan

    Haha, no giving away of the ending, if anything it clarifies what this series is all about.