Only 10 people make the cut as finalists each year for the Poker Hall of Fame, leaving a few head-scratchers off the list each time. Players with all the necessary credentials are often left on the outside looking in, and the fate of poker industry ‘builders’ is left to the whims of the nominations process. Some who didn’t make the cut in 2014 certainly merit more consideration, and with an eye towards seeing their exclusion rectified in future HoF classes, here are some arguments in their favor.
After making the cut as one of the final 10 players for the first time in 2013, Carlos Mortensen has been left out off the list of finalists this time around. Mortensen’s omission is among the most glaring; the 2001 WSOP Main Event Champion added a second bracelet in 2003, and somehow his accomplishments on the World Poker Tour shine even brighter. Mortensen is tied with Gus Hansen for the most WPT titles with three, he won the biggest WPT Championship in the tour’s history back in Season V, and he tops the all-time WPT money list with $6,447,960 – more than $700,000 ahead of 2014 nominee Daniel Negreanu.
After two years in a row as a finalist for the Poker Hall of Fame, David Chiu finds himself on the outside looking in this time around. Chiu meets all the requirements laid out by the HoF committee, having battled top competition in both the tournament and cash game worlds throughout his career. There’s no doubt he’s played consistently well either, or stood the test of time – Chiu earned his fifth career bracelet in 2013 and made another WSOP final table in 2014.
Isai Scheinberg wasn’t nominated again this year, and it should come as little surprise. During his days with PokerStars, Scheinberg and the powers that be at Caesars had a tumultuous relationship to say the least – and as long as they serve a role as gatekeepers in the Poker HoF process it’s unlikely that Scheinberg will get a nod. The Scheinbergs might have sold off the Rational Group to allow PokerStars to potentially enter the American online poker market, but everything that PokerStars has done for the game of poker in the last decade can be directly traced back to him.
John Hennigan is fresh off the best WSOP of his career, where he won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship after finishing third the previous year, just weeks after finishing second in a massive-field No Limit event. That victory gave Hennigan his third WSOP bracelet, and in tandem with his two WPT titles Hennigan’s tournament credentials are strong – although that may not even be the best argument for his HoF candidacy. Hennigan’s presence as one of the most consistent players in the biggest cash games in the world helps push him into a top tier of future candidates.
After reaching the final 10 in both 2011 and 2012, John Juanda’s been left off the list of finalists for the second consecutive year. Juanda earned his first WSOP bracelet in 2002, won two more in 2003 and added a fourth in 2008 with his most high-profile win of all in the WSOP Europe Main Event. He came from way behind to earn his fifth bracelet in 2011, denying Hellmuth his 12th WSOP victory in the process, but in the last few years Juanda has concentrated primarily on playing (and winning) in the biggest cash games in the world in Macau – along with a handful of Super High Roller tournaments.
Joe Hachem is part of a small group of poker players with both a WSOP bracelet and a WPT title, and his two major victories both came with massive paydays. The world watched as the unknown Australian dentist won the 2005 WSOP Main Event and its $7.5 million first place prize, but Hachem truly proved his bonafides in winning the 2006 Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic for $2.2 million. Hachem’s biggest contribution to the game of poker came in the time he spent promoting the game, helping poker to absolutely explode in Australia following his Main Event win.
In the last year, both Negreanu and Ted Forrest won their sixth career WSOP bracelets, tying them for ninth on the all-time list. Both Negreanu and Forrest are on the ballot as finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame class of 2014, but Layne Flack – who’s had six bracelets since 2008 – hasn’t made the final 10 in any of the last four years. Flack won two bracelets each in 2002 and 2003, just as the Poker Boom was catching fire, and while he’s made it to the TV airwaves numerous times over the years he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as players with similar qualifications.
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