The Poker Hall of Fame is the kind of thing that is spoken about it hushed tones among devotees of the game. To be chosen as a member would be a dream come true (even surpassing a WSOP victory) for any player.
But, of course, not just anyone is inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, which only adds to the prestige with which its 54 members (22 of who are still alive today) are associated. As such, much like Hollywood, the Poker Hall of Fame is something we love to learn more about, even if we know we’ll never reach those lofty heights ourselves.
So, to add to your overall poker experience and further your knowledge of the rich history of this popular sport, here’s a little more about the Poker Hall of Fame.
The Poker Hall of Fame was founded in Las Vegas in 1979 by Horseshoe Casino owner, Benny Binion. Binion established the association with a two-fold purpose. Firstly, he wanted to honour the legacies and preserve the names of the world’s greatest poker players and contributors to the game of poker. He also saw it as an ingenious way to attract tourists to his casino.
Notably, Binion was also the original founder of the World Series of Poker, which began in 1970, when he invited a group of high-stakes professional poker players to participate in a tournament at Horseshoe Casino.
In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesar’s Entertainment) acquired both the WSOP and the Poker Hall of Fame from Binion and the WSOP now directly manages Poker Hall of Fame membership decisions.
The WSOP stipulates a range of specific criteria that an individual must comply with in order to crack the nod for the Poker Hall of Fame.
There are two sets of criteria – one for players and another for industry influencers. (Yes, believe it or not, you don’t necessarily have to be a professional poker player to make it into the Poker Hall of Fame.) These criteria are as follows:
- S/he must have played poker against acknowledged top competition.
- S/he must have played for high stakes,
- S/he must have played consistently well, gained the respect of peers, and stood the test of time.
S/he must have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
In 2011, an additional requirement was introduced – players must be 40 years or older in order to be eligible for membership. This came in response to a spate of self-promotion by various online gambling sites attempting to get their representatives nominated after it was announced in 2009 that the Poker Hall of Fame would, from then on, accept public nominations.
The Poker Hall of Fame is so prestigious that even people who know nothing about poker may recognise some of the names on the list. Of course, in some instances, the players may be better known for their antics away from the poker table than at it.
- The most infamous member of the Poker Hall of Fame is American folk hero and frontiersman, “Wild Bill” Hickok, who was one of the association’s first inductees in 1979.
- Although Grand Old Man of Poker, Johnny Moss was the Hall of Fame’s first inductee he is not its oldest, this honour going Englishman Edmund Hoyle, who played his hand in the early 1700s.
- There are currently only two women in the Poker Hall of Fame – Barbara Enright (2007) and Linda Johnson (2011).
- The youngest ever inductee is Chip Reese, who became a member at the age of 40 in 1991, whilst the two newest inductees are 10-times WSOP victor, Phil Ivey and the late David Ulliot.