The nomination process for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is now open, allowing fans to vote for the players and contributors they believe most deserve to be honored.
It’s a difficult process for the average poker fan to undertake, as you must state who and why you are nominating someone. And then nominees must meet the Poker Hall of Fame criteria. But wait there is more! Since poker careers last decades there is also the not-so-small matter of choosing between the established stars of today and the deserving but lesser known stars of bygone eras.
See, it’s not so simple is it?
Needless to say, this is always a difficult decision to make, and even the selection committee who vote on the eventual inductees have a hard time coming to terms with all of the moving parts.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that the Juanda’s, Harman’s and Negreanu’s will have their moment, so I always go with some of poker’s old guard – no need to elect 40-somethings when deserving 60-somethings and older are out there.
So, if you don’t want to nominate the same 10 folks but aren’t sure who you should nominate for the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame than perhaps I can help. Here are six people you may not have even heard of that I feel deserve serious consideration.
Barry Shulman took over Card Player Magazine from its original founder June Fields in 1998 and has overseen the growth of the Card Player brand from a mere print magazine given away in poker rooms to an online affiliate giant and one of the biggest content producers in poker media.
Card Player was for quite some time the only notable vehicle bringing poker knowledge to the masses – no offense pokerpages or Poker Player Magazine and Gambling Times.
Card Player’s current incarnation is a bit different than the site’s and magazine’s origins, but even with some criticisms over questionable affiliate ads being tossed its way the magazine and website remain an important part of poker media.
Shulman is also a pretty accomplished poker player, with several major titles on his resume, including the 2009 WSOPE Main Event (one of his two WSOP bracelets) as well as a 3rd place showing in the 2010 PCA Main Event.
Individually Shulman may not be Hall of Fame worthy as either a contributor or a player, but the sum of Shulman’s career is more valuable than the individual parts.
The 1979 World Series of Poker runner-up never won a WSOP bracelet (he cashed in the Main Event four times, finishing 2nd, 12th, 13th, and 25th), or was much of a factor in major tournaments, but “The Wizard” as he was known amongst his peers was one of the top cash game players of his era.
His life was one of overcoming obstacles, as Hoff dealt with drug issues throughout his playing days, eventually overcoming his personal demons and continuing to be a force at the poker tables into his golden years.
Hoff passed away in 2013 at the age of 73.
Ken Flaton, known by the nickname “Skyhawk” given to him by Stu Ungar, was a dangerous tournament and cash game player and is considered by everyone that knew him as one of the consummate poker pros thanks to his calm and stable demeanor.
Ken was a seasoned veteran of the poker tables, with a WSOP bracelet and more impressively 18 Top 10 finishes in WSOP tournaments on his resume. In cash games Flaton was considered a top Seven Card Stud player, one of the most popular games of his era.
You can read more about Ken Flaton here.
There were no websites or TV shows “promoting” poker back in the 80’s and 90’s and because of this very few poker players were known to the masses.
In fact, the best known people in poker during this era were often the authors who wrote poker primers, and nobody did more to teach the general public about poker and playing poker in the 80’s and 90’s than David Sklansky, whose books are still widely read to this day.
If you were a serious poker player before the Poker Boom you probably have David Sklansky to partly thank for your successes.
Sklansky also has a fairly strong resume as a player, both in cash games where he did well playing middle limit games, and also in tournaments where his resume includes a WSOP bracelet, two WSOP runner-up finishes, and a 3rd place finish in the WPT Borgata Poker Open.
If Sklansky makes the list than so does Mike Caro.
Caro was the theoretician to Sklansky’s straight math analysis, and his Book of Poker Tells is one of the most widely known titles in poker, probably right up there with Super System.
Caro was one of the biggest names in poker in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, which made him the face of the very first online poker site Planet Poker.
Caro was also considered one of the better Five Card Draw players of his era, good enough to write the chapter on Draw Poker in Doyle Brunson’s Super System.
If you’re looking for a more off the beaten path nominee (the “sexy” pick) I’d like to suggest Terry Rogers, the Irish bookmaker turned No Limit Holdem advocate who essentially kick started the globalization of the game when he brought No Limit back to Ireland.
Rogers fell in love with No Limit Holdem after visiting Vegas during the WSOP and brought it back to Ireland and set up his Eccentrics Club where anyone and everyone in Irish poker could be found.
Rogers also created the Irish Poker Open, the second longest running tournament in poker history.