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WSOP 2013 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

hall-of-fame-logoCaesars Entertainment and World Series of Poker officials have announced the ten finalists for election into the Poker Hall of Fame. This year’s finalists are, in alphabetical order:

Chris Bjorin
Humberto Brenes
David Chiu
Thor Hansen
Jennifer Harman
Mike Matusow
Tom McEvoy
Carlos Mortenson
Scotty Nguyen
Huckleberry Seed

Six of this year’s ten finalists return from last year’s finalists list: Bjorin, Chiu, Hansen, Harman, McEvoy and Nguyen. Eric Drache and the late Bryan “Sailor” Roberts were elected last time around, and the other two 2012 finalists, John Juanda and Bicycle Casino founder George Hardie, didn’t make the cut this time around.

Juanda is an interesting side note, thus joins Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu as the only multiple-year finalists to not make that finalist’s list in a later year. However, in the case of both Ivey and Negreanu, they were impacted by a new 2011 rule requiring inductees to be at least 40 years of age, making them temporarily ineligible.

Among the four new finalists this year (meaning those who weren’t among the final ten in 2012), one is actually a returnee of sorts as well — Huckleberry Seed, who didn’t make the finalists list in 2012 but did in 2011. The other three — Carlos Mortensen, Humberto Brenes and Mike “The Mouth” Matusow — are making their Poker HOH finalist debut.

The finalists will be put to a vote before a panel of 37 poker veterans, consisting of 19 living Hall of Fame members and 18 poker-media panelists, in a format that’s been tweaked since its introduction in recent years but in general makes it almost certain that two of the ten finalists will be enshrined.

The enshrinee process has always skewed old and/or dead, which is perhaps why the WSOP’s Seth Palansky, in issuing a press release announcing the finalists, might have seen fir to mention that no dead guys were among the finalists this time around. Wrote Palansky, “With all ten of this year’s finalists living, it is expected the inductee(s) will be able to attend the induction in person. Inductee(s) will be acknowledged on stage during November Nine festivities on November 4 as well.”

True enough, since deserving or not, enlarged photographs on easels give lousy acceptance speeches. Don’t forget that the Poker Hall of Fame is a brand name that Caesars acquired from Binions along with the WSOP a decade ago, and Caesars continues to nurture that HOF brand along its own growth arc.

Given the extra “no dead guys” complication this year, it’s going to be wide-open race, with as many as reasonable election possibilities among the ten finalists. Those six are the six returning nominees, as with the possible exception of Huck Seed, it’s unlikely that any of those four draws significant support this time around.

Carlos Mortenson would be the second of the four newbies who’ll eventually draw serious look, while Mike Matusow and Humberto Brenes aren’t quite up to the same level at this juncture. Both represent the type of awareness-driven nomination that’s common with a fan-based process, since both have received lots of TV time in recent years for their tournament antics. That can get them to the finalist phase, but no farther; there are stronger candidates for nomination.


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