Following a procedure first adopted in 2009, the WSOP invites the public to nominate players, but then has a Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council go through those nominations and select 10 names to include on the final ballot.
That second step was introduced into the process in 2010 after the public managed to stuff the ballot box that first year with nominations of Tom Dwan. It was a bit hilarious for Dwan to be among the 10 PHOF nominees, given he was only 23 years old at the time. (This was before the “Chip Reese Rule” was instituted in 2011 requiring nominees to be at least 40.)
In fact, the powers that be took Dwan off the list, thus forwarding along only nine names to the voters, a group consisting of living Poker Hall of Famers and a “blue ribbon panel” of poker media members. The voting process was a little different in 2009, requiring a nominee to get 75% “yes” votes from voters to get in. That resulted in only one inductee that year (Mike Sexton), and so going forward they tweaked things again, essentially assuring that two of the 10 would get in each year. (If you’re curious, you can read this post from a year ago for a little more about how the voting is done.)
Obviously there were problems with having the public choose nominees. That said, with that PHOF Governing Council stepping in to select the 10 finalists, that creates other issues, opening the door to some of the complaints people fire off each year regarding who gets picked and who gets left out.
The 10 finalists this year are Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Todd Brunson, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Carlos Mortensen, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage, and Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott. Seven of the 10 have appeared on ballots before, the new names being Brunson, Elezra, and Moneymaker.
No surprise, really, to see Moneymaker -- who turned 40 last November -- on the list. In fact it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him voted in, even if some might argue others should be getting in before him. Meanwhile Elezra is not a great surprise either as a nominee, although Brunson seems like it could be a stretch. Can’t see either of those two being voted in, though.
Some are wondering where Phil Ivey is on the list of nominees, but in fact he doesn’t turn 40 until early next year.
If I had to predict, I’d say Mortensen and Ulliott get the votes this time (if Moneymaker doesn’t). Who would you vote in, and who should be nominated who isn’t on this year’s list?