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2009 Poker Hall of Fame Nominees Announced

Posted at 12:39 2009-07-14
The people have spoken! After five weeks and hundreds of votes cast by poker enthusiasts worldwide via the WSOP website, ten poker players have been shortlisted as nominees for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

The 41 names that appeared in the overall list came from a very wide range of players, media representatives and tournament officials, recognising the invaluable contributions to the game in every facet. There is also a good mixture of the old guard who have seen tournament poker in its infancy and of the younger online generation who have paved their way to stardom in such a short amount of time.

Just some of the names that appeared included Patrik Antonius, Allen Cunningham, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, Howard Lederer, Jennifer Harman, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Gus Hansen and Annie Duke.

There are a bevy of WSOP Main Event icons: 2008 WSOP Main Event runner-up Ivan Demidov, WSOP champions Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (2000), Chris Moneymaker (2003) and Greg “The Fossilman” Raymer (2004), as well as poker authors Mike Caro and David Slansky, WSOP commentator Norman Chad and tournament director Matt Savage.

However through the myriad of poker superstars, only the top ten players will be considered for induction by a 15-man panel of media representatives and all 15 surviving Hall of Fame inductees. The nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2009 are (in alphabetical order):

TOM DWAN
The 22-year-old American has not had a major live tournament win to date, however he has had an impressive run of cashes in the WSOP, WPT, Aussie Millions and EPT since age 19.  The young phenom known as durrrr has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks into the high-stakes online cash games and is constantly front page news in the poker world with his Million Dollar Challenge against Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and anyone else willing to step up to the plate.

PREDICTION: Dwan has made a significant impact on the poker world in his short career, but he simply won’t get into the Poker Hall of Fame this year. He’s far too young and he hasn’t built up a big enough of a profile compared to the others. His time will come, but he’ll have to wait a while.

BARRY GREENSTEIN
The author of the popular book Ace on the River and renowned for his charitable contributions from his poker winnings to those less fortunate, Greenstein backs up his Robin Hood status with quality poker, having won two WPT titles, cashed in six events in last year’s WSOP and has over USD $6.9 million dollars in tournament winnings to date. He also hosts the Poker Road Radio show and is an active member of the Poker Player’s Alliance.

PREDICTION: They say what goes around, comes around – Greenstein’s generosity has been recognised both inside and outside of the poker community; he will be certainly be a sentimental favourite for many to be put into the Hall of Fame in 2009. We can only find out in November.

DAN HARRINGTON
“Action Dan” is a quiet achiever reaping big results – as well as a successful book franchise with the Harrington on Hold’em series, he won two bracelets at the 1995 WSOP (plus the Main Event for USD $1 million), the WPT Legends of Poker title in 2007 and to date, has reaped over USD $6.5 million in tournament prize money. His consistent tight-aggressive style on the felt has earned him the utmost respect of his peers.

PREDICTION: Harrington has achieved great things, but there are plenty of other names with bigger CV’s and a more recognizable profile that are certain to get into the Hall of Fame before him. Harrington will be in there eventually, just not this year.

PHIL IVEY
“The Tiger Woods of Poker” continues to produce stellar results. He has won seven WSOP bracelets (including two this year and three in 2002), the 2008 WPT LA Poker Classic championship title (after seven final table appearances) and has earned over USD $9.3 million at online site Full Tilt in the last two years. He also has reportedly turned over astronomical amounts of money in prop bets and sports betting; the subject of how much is a constant debate between fans today.

PREDICTION: Ivey is indeed a worthy candidate. He will certainly appreciate the induction despite his dislike of the spotlight, but even he would even bet against himself knowing that there are players that could be inducted before him this year – if that’s the case, he’ll be a shoe-in next year.

TOM McEVOY
His name may not register with many fans from the modern poker era, but there’s no denying McEvoy’s contribution to the game. He was the 1983 WSOP Main Event champion and the first player to have won the title after qualifying through a satellite. Add to that three other WSOP bracelets, a massive catalogue of published works and most recently the inaugural WSOP Champion’s Invitational title this year – there’s not much that he hasn’t done over the years.

PREDICTION: It’s wonderful to see that McEvoy is in the list, but the big question mark is on whether it’s only because of his recent title or if it’s the recognition of his past achievements. His nomination will be one the most scrutinized by the selectors – the jury’s out on this one.

MEN NGUYEN
“The Master” is well known for his six WSOP bracelets, a long string of tournament cashes (including 120 in-the-money finishes from 2000 to 2004) and 75 tournament victories. Men has been a tutor to many up-and-coming poker players, several of whom have gone to achieve success on their own.  He has also contributed much of his poker winnings to charitable causes, including building a kindergarten in his home country of Vietnam after his WSOP final table finish in 1996.

PREDICTION: He’s a champion poker player and a family man with a likeable personality. He has the accolades, the trophies and the respect amongst his peers, but compared to the other names up for induction in 2009, Men the Master may still have to have to wait for his time to come.

SCOTTY NGUYEN
One of the most easily recognised names and faces on the international poker circuit, “The Prince of Poker” remains popular amongst poker fanatics despite his antics along the way to his WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship victory last year. Add to that the 1998 WSOP Main Event title plus another three WSOP bracelets, a WPT title in 2006, USD $10.9 million in tournament cashes, the hair, the jewellery, the clothes, the laugh and the rags-to-riches story and that’s Scotty, baby.

PREDICTION: Online poker forums will go into meltdown whether Scotty gets in this year or not. The panel will consider him carefully, but if common sense prevails, they won’t penalise him for what other players (including current Hall of Famers) do constantly. Watch this space.

DANIEL NEGREANU
“Kid Poker” has grown up fast since his career began at the tender age of 22. He has four WSOP bracelets to his name, the WSOP Player of the Year title in 2004, two WPT titles and was the WPT Player of the Year in 2005.  He’s written his own book, contributed to Doyle Brunson’s Super System II and has made many poker television show and movie appearances. Negreanu has over USD $11.6 million in tournament prize money to date and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

PREDICTION: Negreanu is another name that will be the subject of debate amongst the selectors. It’s too hard to judge whether or not he can get in this year – he has the résumé, but there are also members of the old guard with an equally impressive background. Only time will tell.

ERIK SEIDEL
The world’s most famous runner-up has a WPT title and eight WSOP bracelets to his name, but he is most remembered for that final hand against Johnny Chan in the 1988 WSOP Main Event. Other silver medal finishes include the 2007 Aussie Millions $100,000 NLHE Challenge (won by Erick Lindgren) and the 2008 Aussie Millions Main Event (won by Alexander Kostritsyn). Seidel is a regular in high-stakes cash games and has USD $9.6 million in tournament earnings to date.

PREDICTION: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride – but he’ll catch the bouquet this year. Seidel’s mark on the game of poker indelible and despite the naysayers, if he doesn’t make it into the Hall of Fame this year, there will be some serious questions raised.

MIKE SEXTON
Having only one WSOP bracelet, 45 WSOP cashes and over USD $3.7 million in tournament winnings doesn’t even register to those who know Sexton.  Rather, it’s his contribution to charity, his written works in various poker publications and his tireless efforts in promoting poker.   Even people who have never seen the game before are educated and entertained by Sexton’s commentary on the World Poker Tour – they can see the game for what it is through his eyes straight away.

PREDICTION: The Poker Hall of Fame has mostly awarded the highest honour to those who play the game and rightly so, but in the modern era of poker, those who have contributed in other facets as much as Sexton has should also be duly recognized. This year is certainly the year for him.

Regardless of age or status, when the inductees are announced in November 2009 before the WSOP Main Event Final Table, they will be immortalised into poker history forever, joining legendary icons such as Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and the late Stu Ungar (who all received votes this year despite the fact they have already been inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame!)

Even if they do not all get into the Poker Hall of Fame this year, they are all champions in their own right. We here at PokerNetwork congratulate all ten nominees on their achievements and wish them the very best of luck!

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Tom Dwan - Hall of Fame bound? Tom Dwan - Hall of Fame bound?

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