WSOP Announes 2018 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists

The World Series of Poker has announced the ten finalists for possible inclusion in the Poker Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 as part of the festivities surrounding the beginning of the 2018 WSOP’s Main Event.

The release of the names of the ten finalists follows the PHOF’s annual public nomination process. The top ten nomination recipients are vetted to ensure PHOF eligibility, and on some occasions one or two long-serving poker industry people, as recommended by the PHOF Governing Council, are introduced into the finalist lineup.

This year’s final ten offer no real surprises. Those ten, in alphabetical order:

  • Chris Bjorin
  • David Chiu
  • Mori Eskandani
  • Bruno Fitoussi
  • John Hennigan
  • Mike Matusow
  • Chris Moneymaker
  • David Oppenheim
  • Matt Savage
  • Huckleberry Seed

This year’s final ten include two new finalists in “Johnny World” Hennigan and David Oppenheim. Hennigan’s debut nomination may hav come at an opportune time, as he won his fifth career WSOP bracelet this summer and is contention for 2018 WSOP Player of the Year honors. Oppenheim has a lesser tourney bio, but is globally recognized as a high-stakes cash-games participant and is a frequent guest on many televised programs in that niche.

The other eight finalists have already made the last ten in previous years, most of them on several occasions. Those eight include this year’s two industry representatives, prominent poker tournament Matt Savage and just-as-prominent TV-poker producer Mori Eskandani.

A brief bio for each of the ten finalists is available in the WSOP’s announcement of the finalists, with this year’s electees to be named later this month.

As the WSOP presser notes, the final voting will be conducted by the WSOP’s Election Committee. This year, that committee will include the 28 living PHOF members, plus an 18-person “blue ribbon” media panel, generally including one representative each from a number of historically prominent poker-media outlets. Each voter has ten votes that they may split among one or more of the finalists.

If you’re wondering about the minimum criteria to be considered for inclusion, they are:

  • 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 WSOP also notes that the 2018 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 13 during the ESPN telecast.

As to who’s going to get the nod this time around, I really don’t have a clue. It’s perhaps time for another industry person to be honored, meaning Savage or Eskandani, but it’s a sure bet that both of them won’t be voted in in the same year, since the PHOF has included at least one (predominantly) player in every election cycle. Let’s be honest: the majority of fans care more about the play and the players than about the industry side of things.

And among this year’s player finalists, it’s anyone’s call. The Euro players have traditionally been overlooked, which isn’t great for perennial finalists Bjorin and Fitoussi. Hennigan has a chance for quick induction in part because his current WSOP performance has him at the top of voters’ minds; the fact that he’s a great player also doesn’t hurt.

There’s also the solid contingent backing Chris Moneymaker for both playing and “contributor” elements, while veteran pros such as Chiu and Seed, with Seed perhaps slightly ahead in career recognition at the present time.

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