The World Series of Poker has opened the 2017 Poker Hall of Fame nomination process, and Lee Davy selects five European dark horses.
It’s that time of year again.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has pressed the trigger on the starting pistol for the Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) nomination process. All over Europe, poker players are preparing to take the heads off American voters with the precision of a guy from Thailand beheading coconuts with a machete.
And when you consider that 64% of Americans have never taken their Polaroid camera outside of the country and that the greatest players in the world do seem to emanate from the land of Stars and Stripes, I can see how these things happen.
But last year, the whole thing came crashing down like a soggy digestive falling into a cold cup of tea when Carlos Mortensen became the first European to make the Hall of Fame since 1979.
So the Europeans are on a roll.
The sky has dilated, and it’s time for Europeans to fall out of the clouds and land in the Poker Hall of Fame en masse.
So who’s next?
Here are some shots from the left field, but before I receive ridicule for my suggestions, let me remind you of the rules regarding eligibility.
• Must have played poker against acknowledged top competition;
• Played for high stakes;
• Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination;
• 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.
Here you go.
1. Pierre Neuville
Pierre Neuville is an inspiration to every 40+ person on this planet who dissects their life with a surgical probe coming up with the pronouncement that life is over.
The Belgian #2 All Time Money Live Tournament Money Earner has competed against the acknowledged top competition in all three of the major tours, including becoming the eldest player to make the November Nine when he finished seventh in 2015.
Neuville may not compete in high stakes cash games, but he has become a regular in €10k+ plus live tournaments, is aged over 40, and has most definitely stood the test of time.
2. Barny Boatman
I was listening to the Poker Central podcast, and Will O’Connor couldn’t name the members of The Hendon Mob. At that moment the differing views of Europeans and Americans, when it comes to the history of poker, could never have been more apparent.
I can’t speak for the European players, but as a British citizen, The Hendon Mob is where it all began. They were the first group of players to understand the power of the brand. They pushed and fought for sponsorship deals, paving the way for future generations to make a living from a game they love, and they created one of the most used poker platforms in the world.
The poker community should herald Joe Beevers, Ram Vaswani, and the Boatman Brothers for their place in the growth of poker, and no more so than Barny Boatman, who stands out because of his two bracelet wins. There is even an argument, because of the effect The Hendon Mob had on poker throughout the UK, for including him purely for his contribution to the game outside of playing.
3. John Duthie
Like The Hendon Mob, we should also laud praise on John Duthie for the creation of the European Poker Tour (EPT).
Until PokerStars buried it, the EPT Main Event was seen as THE accolade to have on your CV by most of the serious professionals in the game. It changed the face of live tournament poker in Europe, and for that reason, Duthie should get a wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
The former Poker Million winner wouldn’t even class himself as a part-time poker player; such is the irregularity of his appearances on the felt. But I believe he deserves a spot in the non-poker playing category.
If Duthie doesn’t get in this year, then it won’t be long.
I anticipate the partypoker MILLION to surpass the PokerStars Championship as the premier live tournament in Europe, and President Duthie will be a big reason for that change.
4. Gus Hansen
There are two people the poker world seem to get excited about when they pop up in a poker game: Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen.
The Dane may not be the all-encompassing presence he once was, but that doesn’t detract from the impact he made on the poker world when he was at his best.
The women loved him, the men wanted to be him, and all of that razzmatazz attracted people to the game from all over the world. Gus Hansen was one of poker’s true stars.
Hansen has won over $10m playing live tournaments, including the Aussie Millions Main Event, the Poker Million, three WPT titles, and a WSOP bracelet.
The Aussie Millions Main Event victory prompted Hansen to write a book covering his run called Every Hand Revealed. During a recent article, I wrote for 888Poker where I asked the pros to name the most influential poker books in history, Hansen’s detailed account of his win peaked at #3, with only Dan Harrington and Doyle Brunson penning anything worthier.
The only argument I can see for Hansen not being included is his terrible performances competing in high stakes action online where he amassed over $20m in losses. But there is no doubt that at his peak he made a considerable impact on the live tournament scene and attracted a multitude of people into poker.
5. David Benyamine
David Benyamine has earned over $7.2m playing live tournaments, and who knows how much more playing online and live cash games. Only the prospective PHOF member, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier has earned more in France.
Benyamine has competed at the highest stakes in both cash games and tournaments for two decades and is a worthy winner in both. Amongst his accolades are the partypoker Premier League, WPT Main Event, and WSOP bracelet.
But it’s his appearances in the High Stakes Cash Games that stick in my grey matter, and they had such an influence on people joining poker back in the day.
Other players who sprang to mind, but didn’t make the cut, mainly because we have spoken about them many times before were: Marcel Luske, Bruno Fitoussi, Thor Hansen, Chris Bjorin, Devilfish, and Max Pescatori.
Now it’s your turn.
Which Europeans do you believe deserve a place in the Poker Hall of Fame?