On Thursday, the World Series of Poker announced that Daniel Negreanu will become the first 40-year old since the legendary Chip Reese to be enshrined in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Joining him will be 63-year old and recently retired Bellagio poker room director Jack McClelland.
Full story here.
The duo become the 47th and 48th members of the Hall, joining iconic figures such as Doyle Brunson, Stu Unger, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel and recently inducted Scotty Nguyen. Both were voted in by a 41 person panel consisting of existing Hall of Famers and active members of the poker press. They beat out a field that included the likes of Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Ted Forrest, Jennifer Harman, Mike Matusow, Huck Seed, Bruno Filoussi and Bob Hooks.
This year’s induction ceremony is set to take place on November 9 at Binion’s Gambling Hall, kicking off a three-day poker blitz that will ultimately result in a new Main Event champion being crowned.
Binion’s hosted the WSOP from its inception to the advent of the poker boom in 2004. Since, the annual event calls the Rio Hotel and Casino home.
Negreanu and McClelland walked decidedly different paths en route to poker immortality. Listed below is a sampling of their many poker accolades and other contributions to the game.
Profiling Daniel Negreanu
Outside of perhaps Phil Ivey, there isn’t one player more consistently associated with the game of poker than Daniel Negreanu. One of the few players from the “old guard” that remains relevant to this day, Daniel has proven more than just a formidable opponent at the table; he is a true ambassador for the game.
Animated yet poignant, the always opinionated Negreanu has spoken out against anything and everything that he deems could be improved about the sport, yes sport, of poker. In my humble estimation, his viewpoints on topics such as tournament rulings, the Black Friday scandal and the overall evolution of poker are so pinpoint accurate, that industry figureheads would be foolish not to heed his worlds.
With today’s young pros lacking the savvy necessary to become poker spokesmen, I’d argue that the poker community needs Negreanu around, if only to keep a game that’s often taken too seriously, lighthearted and appealing to recreational players.
Daniel’s larger than life persona and intimate knowledge of the poker world are probably enough on their own to warrant entry into the Hall. But he’s proven to be so much more.
In his 18-year career, Negreanu has amassed nearly $30 million in live tournament winnings, good for first place on the all-time leader board. Unlike many of the leader board’s other top 20 inhabitants, many of whom only have a few gigantic cashes to their credit, Daniel has averaged over a dozen cashes a year for past 15.
A true model of consistency, Daniel has won six WSOP bracelets, two WSOP Player of the Year awards, two World Poker Tour titles, and recently placed second in this year’s Big One for One Drop (putting up a large portion of the $1 million buy-in himself mind you).
Negreanu is also attributed with inventing the small ball method of poker, a style utilized by many of today’s top pros. Suffice it to say, it works.
When asked for comment regarding his induction, Daniel offered:
“It’s an honor to be inducted alongside so many great players that have come before me. An even bigger honor to be recognized at age 40, the same age as the legend Chip Reese. Thank you to the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame and those on the Blue Ribbon Media Panel that voted for me.”
Congratulations Daniel, I fully expect you to be the only Hall member to accomplish more post-induction than pre.
Profiling Jack McClelland
Unlike Negreanu, Jack McClelland didn’t make his name at the poker table, but that doesn’t undermine his magnificent contributions to the game in any way.
The industry icon first moved to Las Vegas not to play poker, but to try and make it as a professional bowler. He ended up working in the dealer’s box for a meager $18 a day. Little did he know at the time that he would soon be hobnobbing with some of the forerunners of the modern poker era.
During his five decade career, McClelland had the esteemed honor of working with Hall of Fame members Jack Binion, Bobby Baldwin and Eric Drache.
By 1984, McClelland’s work ethic and persistence landed him a spot as tournament director for the WSOP. At the time, poker was a dying game, but by 1987 fresh faces such as Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth breathed new life into the game, albeit temporarily.
McClelland also became the first tournament director to host events at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and has proven influential in spreading poker awareness during a time when it needed it the most.
Just as the poker boom was beginning to take off in 2002, McClelland became the head honcho of the Bellagio’s poker room. The Bellagio would go onto host the first World Poker Tour event that same year, introducing poker to the masses a full year before Moneymaker won his title.
McClelland would retire his “let’s shuffle up and deal” last year, citing a decrease in televised events at the Bellagio and health issues as the reasons behind his departure.
A testament to the power of the American Dream, McClelland has seen the game of poker through its highest highs and lowest lows. Throughout, he managed to do what few other industry icons could – he persevered.
When asked for statement, he replied:
“Being inducted into the Class of 2014 Poker Hall of Fame is a very exciting prospect and I am sure it will be a very humbling experience. I thank everyone involved in this process and to the WSOP, WPT and all of the great people I have met and the wonderful people I have worked with throughout the years. Thank you for bestowing this honor upon me. I am very grateful.”
So are we Jack, so are we.
Thank you Daniel Negreanu and Jack McClelland for being who you are, and congratulations on your Poker Hall of Fame induction.