WSOP Announces Finalists for 2019 Poker Hall of Fame
With the 2019 World Series of Poker in full swing, the WSOP has announced today the ten finalists being considered for induction into the WSOP-owned Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF).
The release of this year’s finalist list follows several weeks of public nominations to determine the most popular poker figures to be considered, followed by a brief vetting by the PHOF’s Executive Committee to ensure the nominees meet the published criteria for induction.
This year’s list of ten finalists includes only one first-timer, Antonio Esfandiari, and in a shift from previous years, all ten finalists are known virtually solely for their playing expertise. Esfandiari, the newest face, has done some color commentary on poker broadcasts, but he remains most well-known for his triumph in the inaugural WSOP Big One for One Drop event, which featured a $1 million buy-in and a record-setting $18.346 million first-place prize.
Esfandiari is joined by nine other veteran pros for induction consideration. In alphabetical order, the other finalists are Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, David Oppenheim, and Huckleberry Seed. All nine have been a finalist at least once in previous years.
From here, the process moves on to the Poker Hall of Fame’s Election Committee, which is comprised of 30 living Hall of Famers and a 21-person panel of poker-industry media members. They’ll vote over the next two weeks, wth each committee member having a bloc of ten votes that can be distributed among one or several finalists.
The process is designed to enshrine two honorees in most years; last year, John “Johnny World” Hennigan and Mori Eskandani received the nod. This year’s enshrinees will join the 56 people who have previously received the PHOF honor since its inception back in 1979.
The following remain the criteria for induction consideration:
- 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.
The 2019 Class of the Poker Hall of Fame will be inducted as part of the World Series of Poker Main Event final table festivities in Las Vegas July 15 during the ESPN telecast. Voters have until July 8 to return their ballots, giving the PHOF a few days to tabulate the results and announce the winner.