Public Nominations Open for WIPHOF (Women in Poker Hall of Fame)

The Las Vegas-based Women in Poker Hall of Fame is back in the news with their announcement this week that the organization plans to induct a few new honorees this year, the first such enshrinement since 2013.  WIPHOF, as it’s commonly abbreviated, was founded back in 2007 as a promotional concept designed to interest more women in poker, as well as recognize the exceptional performance of female poker player and industry professionals who have excelled in a heavily male-dominated poker world.

The WIPHOF was created back in 2007, in conjunction with the LIPS (Ladies International Poker Series) tour, which has served as the title sponsor of various women-only poker tourneys for several years in various casino venues.  The need for such a “protective” environment as women’s-only poker tourneys is one of the driving reasons behind the LIPS tour, and general support for such events has long been an implied necessity – if no longer an explicitly-stated requirement – for possible induction in the WIPHOF’s ranks.

wiphof-logoWhile the women-only poker tourney thing remains implicitly tied to the WIPHOF, via its ongoing association with the LIPS tour, there’s no doubt that the WIPHOF has done a pretty decent job of selecting worthy nominees.  Since 2008, when its first class was announced, the WIPHOF has honored 17 female poker figures: Barbara Enright, Linda Johnson, Marsha Waggoner, Susie Isaacs, Cyndi Violette, Jan Fisher, June Field, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Billie Brown, Kristy Gazes, Margie Heintz, Phyllis Caro, JJ Liu, Kathy Raymond, Allyn Shulman, and Deborah Giardina.

There’s absolutely no one on that list who one could claim is unworthy of possible induction, and it stands in well-considered consideration to some of the Poker Hall of Fame’s more comical entries, such as career criminal Wild Bill Hickok, Sir Edmund Hoyle (who never actually played poker himself), or a couple of more recent PHOF enshrines whose main claim to fame is having played in a lot of cash games with Doyle Brunson.  One bad trait, however, that the WIPHOF shares with the PHOF is an excessive focus on the historical Las Vegas poker scene.

Still, the WIPHOF’s planned resurgence seems welcome against the increased focus on sex and gender issues that has come poker’s way over the past couple of years.  The poker world has always been a tough place for women to survive and thrive, and a recent resurgence of sexist attacks on social media, targeting several of the game’s most noted female figures, shows that the WIPHOF’s ongoing existence is likely a very good thing.  That recent and unfortunate resurgence in notable sexist incidents may have also spurred the WIPHOF’s governing board to make some inductions this year, since the WIPHOF has been on a bit of a hiatus itself, having not enshrined anyone since 2013.

As to who should be elected, this writer favors Betty Carey, the Alaska gal who came to play with the big boys in Las Vegas in the ‘70s and ‘80s and succeeded for years on the game’s biggest stage.  Yet all that remains to be determined by the WIPHOF’s two-stage selection process.  Public nominations, as mentioned, are now open at wiphof.com, and from there the top nominees move on to consideration by the WIPHOF’s election panel.  That’s also similar to the PHOF’s structure, being comprised of existing enshrines and WIPHOF execs, plus a select media contingent.

Whoever is enshrined will find out later this spring, and the Women in Poker Hall of Fame has already announced the date for its 2016 enshrinement ceremony, on July 5th, 2016, somewhere in Las Vegas.  Previous ceremonies have been held at such locales as downtown LV’s iconic Golden Nugget casino.

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