If I’d had a vote I certainly would’ve given support to Mortensen’s candidacy, though there were other nominees I’d have probably chosen this year ahead of the younger Brunson (though he’s certainly deserving).
Mortensen is a WSOP Main Event champion (2001), and I tend to have a bit of a prejudice in favor of that select group when it comes to the PHOF. With three WPT titles, nearly $12 million in career tourney earnings, and a near-miss to make a second WSOP Main Event final table in 2013 (when he finished 10th), he was a shoo-in. That’s not even counting the highly advanced chip stacking skills that further distinguish the Spaniard (originally from Ecuador).
Todd Brunson has won a lot in tournaments as well (nearly $4.3 million, including a WSOP bracelet in 2005), although he’s much better known as a high-stakes cash game player. His notable heads-up battles with Andy Beal -- including a $13.5 million win over two days (as chronicled in Michael Craig’s The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King), then another belated reprise versus Beal in early 2015 which Brunson is said to have won another $5 million -- are legend-making and probably enough to earn him serious PHOF consideration.
I’m going to guess he got a lot of support from the living Poker Hall of Famers, and perhaps not quite as much from the media who voted. Speaking of living PHOFers, he joins his dad, Doyle Brunson, as a PHOF member, which has to be fairly unusual as far as hall of fames go, generally speaking.
The only other father-son combo I can think of in any sports hall of fame would be Bobby and Brett Hull, even if Ken Griffey, Sr. and Jr. spring to mind (Jr. got in this year, Sr. isn’t a HOFer).
In any case, congrats to both. And if the WSOP is reading, feel free to steal that special WSOP PHOF deck idea!