Poker Hall of Fame to Induct Jennifer Harman, John Juanda

The Caesars Entertainment-owned Poker Hall of Fame announced today its class of 2015, consisting of long-time poker pros Jennifer Harman and John Juanda.  Today’s announcement makes Juanda and Harman the HOF’s 49th and 50th members, and the pair will be officially inducted on Friday, November 6th, in an evening ceremony at Binion’s Gambling Hall in downtown Las Vegas.

hall-of-fame-logoRecent years’ HOF induction ceremonies have been held in conjunction with the World Series of Poker’s “November Nine” finale of the WSOP main event, as will again be the case this year, even if the HOF ceremony is held downtown at the WSOP’s first and longtime home.  Binion’s, then known as Binion’s Horseshoe, was the original home of the WSOP, where the series was hosted annually from 1970 through 2004.  The Caesars-owned Binion’s remains the home of permanent displays honoring the HOF’s members.

Harman and Juanda were selected from ten finalists for enshrinement from a committee of 39 knowledgable poker people, including 23 living Hall of Fame members and 16 media representatives.  The pair’s selection is the final stage of a multi-stage nomination and voting process that begins with a public-nomination phase each summer.

Harman and Juanda were selected over this year’s other eight finalists: Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Bruno Fitoussi, Carlos Mortensen, Max Pescatori, Terry Rogers, Matt Savage and the late David Ulliott.  Several of those other finalists have made multiple appearances among the final 10, including Bjorin, Chiu and Mortenson, will join the soon-to-be-eligible Phil Ivey as favorites for induction in the next couple of years.

“Congratulations to the newest members of the Poker Hall of Fame,” said the Poker Hall of Fame’s governing council member, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “Both Jen and John are well-respected long-time poker players who have paid their dues and deserving to represent the 2015 class of the Poker Hall of Fame.”

Both Harman and Juanda have solid WSOP track records as well as considerable success elsewhere in poker.  Between them, the pair have won seven WSOP bracelets (Harman two and Juanda five), while Harman in particular has enjoyed years of success in the Vegas-based “Big Game,” the long-running Vegas cash game featuring some of the game’s most well-known players, participating at very high stakes.

The brief bios for Juanda and Harman, as provided by the WSOP:

JEN HARMAN

Jen Harman has a long list of tournament accomplishments, including more than $2.7 million in earnings, two WPT final tables, 12 WSOP final tables, and the honor of being the first woman to win multiple WSOP bracelets in open events. However, what might be even more impressive than her tournament results is her skills in the cash games. The Reno, Nevada native has been a staple in the biggest cash games in Vegas for more than a decade and is one of the only women to play cash at such high stakes. The mother of two also dedicates much of her time to using poker to raise money for charitable causes, including the National Kidney Foundation and the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

JOHN JUANDA

Johnson “John” Juanda is a 44-year-old Indonesian-born poker pro who doesn’t do much talking, but his poker resume speaks for itself. He has amassed more than $17 million in tournament winnings, including five WSOP gold bracelets, an EPT title, plus WPT, APT, PPT, and many other tournament victories. He’s also won wherever he has went, with victories in Europe, Australia, Asia and North America. A long-time U.S. resident, Juanda came to the United States in 1990 to attend college at Oklahoma State University and then went on to receive his Master’s Degree from Seattle University. But since 1997 John has made his income on the felt and in so doing has cemented himself as one of the most consistent and successful players of the last two decades.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected into the PHOF,” said Harman. “Poker has been an unbelievable journey for me and to have the respect of my peers is truly amazing. I want to thank everyone for the amazing support. I’m so happy!!!!”

“I appreciate the recognition,” said Juanda. “It’s an honor to see my name among so many players I have admired and respected throughout my career: Chip Reese, Erik Seidel, Dan Harrington, Daniel Negreanu. Thank you to all the fans who nominated me and to the HOF and media members who voted me in.”

Both players are certainly deserving of enshrinement, and both players, ironically, were members of the vaunted “Team Full Tilt,” a collection of player-owners who fronted the long-running but eventually controversial online poker site Full Tilt.  Juanda and Harman weathered the Black Friday-induced failure and subsequent controversies regarding the original Full Tilt fairly well, unlike several other player-owners who long promoted the old Tilt brand.

The election of Harman and Juanda is likely to be well received but will do little to quell accusations, particularly from Europe, that the Poker Hall of Fame is a highly American and Las Vegas-centric institution with a heavy bias toward poker faces well known on the Vegas scene.  Such accusations also note that the HOF’s selection committee is dominated by poker’s old guard, in particular Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, and that a disproportionate number of the HOF’s enshrinees have been cash-game players from the early days of the Vegas poker scene.  That could have changed this year had Mortensen or Bjorin been elected, though both will remain among the HOF’s likely international selections once that imbalance is finally addressed.

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