If I had a Poker Hall of Fame I would vote for…

Written By Steve Ruddock on September 12, 2014
Steve's Picks for Poker Hall of Fame 2014

Daniel Negreanu and Bruno Fitoussi.

Of the 10 finalists these two are the most deserving in my mind, although plenty of others on the list are also deserving of a place in poker’s most exclusive club, just not ahead of Negreanu and Fitoussi.

Here is a look at the 10 finalists for 2014:

  1. Chris Bjorin
  2. Humberto Brenes
  3. Bruno Fitoussi
  4. Ted Forrest
  5. Jen Harman
  6. Bob Hooks
  7. Mike Matusow
  8. Jack McClelland
  9. Daniel Negreanu
  10. Huck Seed

Before I make the case for Negreanu and Fitoussi, let me first explain why I didn’t push for Negreanu or other modern players this year, which has to do with the current procedures in place for Hall of Fame nominations and voting.

I’m not crazy about the process

Anyone who follows my musings on poker knows I have a soft spot for poker history, and the players of old. If I was allowed to pick the 10 finalists for this year’s Poker Hall of Fame class it would look markedly different than the names selected by the general public voting system.

The reason is the Poker Hall of Fame is a relatively new entity and never mass inducted the players of eras long past. So what we have is a severe backlog of players that deserve to get in, but who are now seeing just as or more deserving people cut in front of them.

Here are the people I lobbied for this year:

  • Barry Shulman
  • Ken Flaton
  • Bobby Hoff
  • David Sklansky
  • Mike Caro
  • Terry Rogers

Other names I’ve thrown around in the past include Mickey Appleman, David Ulliott, Men Nguyen, Bruno Fittoussi, Cyndi Violette, Danny Robison, Marcel Luske, Liam Flood, Jack McClelland, Nolan Dalla, Anthony Holden, Andy Glazer, and John Duthie.

I’ve also advocated for that much needed mass induction of players from the 19th and early 20th century to simply solve the problem of the backlog of deserving players who are not in the Hall of Fame – mainly because the Poker Hall of Fame was created in 1979.

Beyond that, I don’t like the fan voting aspect of the process, which leads to social media campaigns and doesn’t truly reflect which players are the most deserving. People having good years get nominated as they are “on the brain” of the public – David Chiu last year (when he had a great WSOP) but not this year or Thor Hansen, whose battle with cancer had him on many people’s minds last year.

To solve this I would like to see the Poker Hall of Fame move towards a baseball-esque minimum eligibility requirement, followed by minimum number of votes to remain eligible the following year.

This year seems to have really sparked a lot of debate this year over the current process, and unlike in past years where criticisms and suggestions came from just a few, this year it seems like everyone is chiming in.

Personally I think this is a good thing, and I’d be very surprised if there isn’t some kind of changes put in place next year.

You can read more of my thoughts on the current flaws in the Hall of Fame nomination and voting process here.

Another good column on this was penned by Lance Bradley a couple years ago: Editor’s Letter: Process Oriented

Ok, rant time is over.

Why I would vote for Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu wasn’t on my shortlist of players that should be among the 10 nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2014, but now that he is on the ballot there is no way you cannot vote him in.

Negreanu is an all-timer, a Mount Rushmore type. He was there before the Poker Boom, he was instrumental during the Poker Boom, and he has become the game’s greatest ambassador as the Poker Boom’s star fades.

So, even though I wouldn’t push for Negreanu during the nomination process, once he is a finalist you have to go with the most worthy of that bunch, and there is simply nobody more worthy than Daniel Negreanu.

Why I would vote for Fitoussi

First off, I like players that do more than play poker, and Fitoussi certainly fits that bill. Fitoussi basically brought Texas Holdem to France and was responsible for the creation of the Aviation Club’s poker room.

Fitoussi is also extremely well-liked and respected in poker, and of course a very talented player in his own right.

A lot of people focus on results, but for me it’s about your place in poker history. A lot of players might get a sentence in the next poker history book, but what I want are players in the Hall of Fame who receive their own paragraph, and other than being an absolute legend this means doing more than winning tournaments.

Here are some more thoughts on Bruno Fitoussi.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve is a well-recognized voice in the regulated U.S. online gambling industry. He writes for a number of online and print publications including OnlinePokerReport.com, USA Today, and others, with a focus on the legal market.

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