Poker Hall of Fame Shortlist Once Again Divides North American and European Poker Communities

TAGs: 2016 Poker Hall of Fame, Lee Davy

The ten finalists for the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame are released prompting the annual punch up between North American and European poker communities over the validity of those selected.

poker-hall-of-fame-shortlist-announcedI used to love a Saturday afternoon watching Saint and Greavsie and World of Sport. I laughed my ass off when I learned that Big Daddy was called Shirley, and the whole town would come to a standstill when he bellied-off against Giant Haystacks.

Americans have probably never heard of either show and to some extent, it’s the same in poker.

The UK born pros who grew up watching Late Night Poker and the Poker Million will think the sun shines out of the Devilfish’s chauvinistic ass. The American-born pros who watched the World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT) and the barrage of other poker related TV shows will no doubt prefer the much prettier ass of Jennifer Harman.

Sprinkle a little bit of xenophobia, cultural bias, and personal experience into the mix and you have a problem when the Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) announced their ten finalists each year.

A few years back, the non-Americans kept complaining about the lack of their folk in the PHOF, and the Americans kept quiet. The sound of those drum beats have apparently exploded in the ears of the poker community because non-American names are making the short list with increasing alacrity in recent times. The Americans are no longer quiet.

Here is the shortlist for the 2016 PHOF after a public vote and a vetting process by the PHOF Governing Council.

Chris Bjorin

Humberto Brenes

Todd Brunson

Eli Elezra

Bruno Fitoussi

Chris Moneymaker

Carlos Mortensen

Max Pescatori

Matt Savage

Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot

Seven of the ten are non-Americans, and this hasn’t gone down well in some quarters of that part of the world.

Previous PHOF nominee Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow said he would rather vote for Allen Kessler than most of the people on the list when reacting to the news tweeted from Kessler’s account. He also went on to state: ‘everyone wants David Ulliot cause he died, he did nothing for poker.’

Harsh words, but I admire him for his honesty.

Ironically, the reasons you would vote for The Mouth are the same as The Devilfish. You aren’t going to think about their results. You are going to think about their cringeworthy entertainment value, and how important that aspect of characterisation is for the growth of poker.

There is some validation in his words. Had Dave Ulliot been alive he wouldn’t have made the cut, but that’s life. Get over it.

Barny Boatman uses classic Monty Python to remind The Mouth why people may have voted for the Devilfish.

One person who left his straight shooting pistol at home locked in a safe was the usually candid Daniel Negreanu.

Who could he mean?

Looking at the shortlist, the only person he could be referring to is Chris Moneymaker. There is an argument that Moneymaker has not yet stood the test of time, and hasn’t played for high stakes, but his role in the growth of poker is unquestionable.

Negreanu doesn’t think that should count.

Here are the criteria.

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
  • 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.

Maybe it’s time for the PHOF Governing Council to rewrite the last category and make it ‘contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results,’ otherwise, we could end up with Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer in the bloody thing.

Erik Seidel, himself a PHOF member, believes the system is open to collusion (because a voter can allocate 10 points to one person). Seidel tweeted his belief the PHOF has more to do with ‘marketing’ than ‘accomplishment’ seeking the induction of David Chiu, Huck Seed, David Oppenheim and John Hennigan, before realising that Oppenheim needs to wait another six years to reach eligibility.

Doyle Brunson is another who is not happy with the list, and wants to know where Phil Ivey’s name is?

Ivey is not eligible until next year.

The fate of the 10, is now in the hands of the 25 living members of the PHOF and a 20-person media panel.

Voting will end on October 7. The ceremony will take place Oct 26 at Binion’s Gambling Hall, Las Vegas.

Now stop griping about who is on the list because it won’t change. From the ten who made it, which two would you induct and why?


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