Why Not Ivey?

The names of the 2010 inductees for the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame had barely been announced and you could almost hear the simultaneous explosion of a million poker brat’s brains as they screamed, “Why not Ivey?” As Erik Seidel and Dan Harrington take their rightful places among the poker elite, it is fair to
ponder the exclusion of Ivey at this point in his career.

The Hall has specific criteria for eligibility into the exclusive group. Players must have a top-level pedigree against the best high-stakes players of their time, they must have earned the respect of other players and they must have achieved success of a sustained period of time.

No one can argue that inductees Dan Harrington and Erik Seidel don’t meet these standards. Harrington, now 64 years-old, is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $6 million in career live earnings. He has also authored some of the most influential poker strategy books ever written.

At 50 years-old, Seidel is tied with Ivey for 5th place all-time, each having 8 WSOP bracelets. He is still an extremely competitive player, has over $10 million in live tournament winnings and is well respected in the game. As Doyle Brunson says of Seidel, “He meets all the requirements and his exemplary conduct deserves a special
accolade. He reminds me of Chip Reese.”

Both of these men are great selections; however, there is still one missing element…Phil Ivey. Fifth place on the all-time list of WSOP winners, first with over $13 million in live tournament winnings and first again with nearly $19 million in online winnings during more than a decade of dominant play; Ivey’s is already a poker legend.
Even Brunson admitted after Ivey picked up his eighth WSOP bracelet, “#8 for Ivey? Wow! I’m pretty hard headed about players being great but I finally have to admit he is the best all-around player.”

So why was Ivey shut out again this year? He comes up short in one area; he is only 34 years-old. The selection committee for the Hall of Fame made it clear last year when they nixed Tom Dwan as a potential candidate; age matters. Players like Ivey and Daniel Negreanu already have the numbers, but as Brunson wrote of Negreanu, “He meets the criteria but probably is going to have to wait until he is a little older.”

Ivey is the dominant player on the planet, and he already has a resume that will get him in the Hall. That said, Harrington and Seidel are excellent choices and deserve to have their names etched alongside the other poker legends. Why not Ivey? It’s just not his
time…not yet.