2014 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Announced
The public nomination period has concluded and the ten finalists for the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame class have been announced. Of those ten, five are new nominees while one, Daniel Negreanu, was nominated in his first year of eligibility.
The nomination process began in July with anyone being allowed to submit names. The criteria for consideration for the Poker Hall of Fame are as follows:
• 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.
Everything except for the age restriction is subjective, but that is the way Halls of Fame qualifications tend to be. Here are the ten nominees:
Chris Bjorin – the 66-year old Swede (now living in England) has won over $5.5 million on the live tournament circuit, including at least $100,000 in 19 different years. He has 68 cashes at the World Series of Poker, good for sixth all time, with seven of those coming in the Main Event.
Humberto Brenes – “The Shark” ranks third all-time in WSOP cashes with 82, including an amazing ten this year and nine in the Main Event. More than for just his success at the tables, though, Brenes has been celebrated as an ambassador of the game. His ebullient personality and frequent good-natured silliness during competition was often on display on television during the poker boom, making him a fan favorite. He is considered “the man” in Costa Rica and has done a lot to help grow the game in Latin America.
Bruno Fitoussi – a extremely strong player with more than $2.7 million in live tournament earnings, his place in poker history lies more in what he has done for the game in France. He brought Texas Hold’em to the legendary Aviation Club de France two decades ago and played an instrumental role in not only getting poker on television in his home country, but also making a number of television programs popular in French households.
Ted Forrest – one of the most highly respected players in the world, Forrest has rarely seen a bet he didn’t like. A high stakes cash game player who was famously part of the team that took on Andy Beal, Forrest is prop bet royalty. A six-time WSOP bracelet winner, his public fame grew as the WSOP on ESPN began to get popular at the beginning of the poker boom; he could often be seen deep in tournaments in a variety of disciplines. He made his name in the poker world, however, back in 1993 when he won Events 11, 12, and 13 – one of the few players to ever win three bracelets in a single WSOP and still the only one to win three consecutive events, which also happened to be in three different poker disciplines.
Jennifer Harman – like Forrest, Harman also rose to prominence in the public eye as the poker boom grew, one of the few female poker players that we got to see on television on regular basis. While it was obvious to the casual fan that she was one of the best tournament players in the world – she was first woman to win multiple WSOP bracelets in open events – it wasn’t until people saw High Stakes Poker and read Michael Craig’s The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King that the public came to understand what a terror (in a good way) she was in high stakes cash games.
Bob Hooks – perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Hooks was one of the original “Texas Rounders,” travelling to play poker with the likes of Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. He finished as runner-up to fellow Texas Rounder Brian “Sailor” Roberts in the 1975 WSOP Main Event. Hooks also served as the first card room manager of the Vegas Horseshoe and later worked at the Golden Nugget.
Mike Matusow – maybe the ultimate poker character, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow might be better known to poker fans for his emotions and table talk than he is for his actual poker play. He is a great player, though, having won four WSOP bracelets. He has also made two WSOP Main Event final tables, five World Poker Tour final tables, and has won over $9 million in live tournaments. If players could make the Hall of Fame based on entertainment factor alone, Matusow would already be in.
Jack McClelland – recently retired, anyone who has played poker in Las Vegas or in major tournaments over the last several decades knows this man. He was the WSOP’s tournament director, ran the Bellagio poker room for over a decade, and has been in charge of major tournaments around the world.
Daniel Negreanu – a shoo-in if there ever was one, Negreanu is in his first year of eligibility now that he finally turned 40 (don’t we all feel old). Negreanu is first on the all-time live tournament money list with nearly $30 million in winnings. He owns six WSOP bracelets, two WPT titles, and ten WPT top ten finishes. On top of all his accomplishments, he has also been one of the greatest ambassadors in poker history. He has been on television more times than one can count, almost always with a smile and friendly table banter. He is an outspoken supporter of the game and is simply one of those personalities that draws people in almost immediately.
Huck Seed – maybe second only to Ted Forrest in his propensity for prop betting, Seed won the WSOP Main Event in 1996. He has also won the WSOP Tournament of Champions, the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, has made two WSOP $50,000 Players Championship final tables, and has earned four WSOP bracelets. Despite his titles and over $7.6 million in tournament winnings, Seed might be the most overlooked great player of the last couple decades.
From here, the ten person ballot goes to the 21 living Poker Hall of Fame members and a group of 20 media members for final voting. The 2014 class will be inducted in a ceremony at the Rio in Las Vegas on November 9th.