Like most sports (in the broad sense of the word), poker has had some elite players throughout its history that stand out from the rest. That makes it only natural that there be a Poker Hall of Fame to honor the names that will be remembered for generations to come. But in a sport where there are few statistics (and even fewer reliable ones), the nomination process of poker’s hallowed shrine is a bit more complex than in, say, baseball.
That’s why this year, the World Series of Poker (which oversees the Poker Hall of Fame) has announced that fans will once again play a role in determining just who will get into poker’s most exclusive club. Fans can nominate a player online at WSOP.com from now though August 15, after which the submissions will be tabulated and the top ten nominees will be reviewed by the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council.
From that list, the Governing Council will remove any inappropriate names and add any individuals they feel must be included (in particular, non-players who may not be famous to fans, but who played key roles in the industry). That final list will be announced in September, from which a ballot will be formed.
Up to Two New Members to be Selected
That ballot will then be sent to the official voters. All living Hall-of-Famers (21 in total) have a vote, as do some select media members who cover the world of poker. Each voter will then rank the nominees they believe are worthy of induction in order of preference. They also have the option of adding a write-in candidate who will be considered for induction in 2015.
Once all ballots have been returned, the Governing Council tallies the votes. The top two finalists are then inducted into the hall of fame, provided that they have both received majority support from the voters. Traditionally, either one or two candidates have been inducted each year since 2001, with a full class of two making the cut each of the last four years. Last year’s inductees were Tom McEvoy and Scotty Nguyen.
Criteria Designed to Honor the Best
The criteria for entrance into the Poker Hall of Fame are rather straightforward. For players, they must have played against the world’s top competition at high stakes, been acknowledged to have played consistently well, stood the test of time, gained the respect of their peers and be at least 40 years of age at the time of their nomination. Meanwhile, non-players must have contributed to the growth and success of poker with “indelible positive and lasting results.”
The induction ceremony will take place during the November Nine final table of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, in the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater in Las Vegas. At this time, there is no physical location for the Hall of Fame itself.
At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be nominated this year, let alone who will ultimately receive the honor of induction. However, there are a couple of notable players who will be eligible for the first time in 2014. Canada’s Daniel Negreanu will turn 40 before nominations close, making the world’s winningest tournament poker player eligible for the first time. Also eligible is Gus Hansen, one of the more legendary tournament and cash game players in both live and online play over the past decade.