Monday, August 23, 2010

Thinking About the Poker Hall of Fame, Class of 2010

Poker Hall of FameLast week we began hearing some news about this year’s Poker Hall of Fame. The nominating process is coming to a close, and voting for the 2010 class is coming up soon.

I have to admit I am extra interested in how the vote goes this time around. Why? Because I was asked to participate as one of the panel of poker media who vote on the finalists. It was a great honor to be asked, and I plan to give the matter careful consideration when it comes time to cast my vote.

For those who aren’t familiar with the process, I thought I’d post a little something about how it all goes.

As was the case last year, anyone who wants to can submit nominations for the Poker Hall of Fame over at the WSOP website. The story getting passed around last week was that a total of 181 have been nominated thus far for consideration this year.

My first reaction to hearing that figure was to think that’s a heckuva lot of nominees. Then I looked back to see what happened last year to compare.

In 2009 -- the first year the WSOP opened up the nominating process in this way -- the polls were opened on May 26 (at the start of the Series) and closed on July 2 (at the start of the Main Event). During that period -- a little over five weeks -- the reports I read said there were ultimately 41 nominees.

Those included the 10 who received the most nominations: Tom Dwan, Barry Greenstein, Dan Harrington, Phil Ivey, Tom McEvoy, Men Nguyen, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, and Mike Sexton. You’ll recall Sexton was the only one of those appearing on the ballot who was voted in. You might also recall that Dwan -- still a few weeks shy of his 23rd birthday at the time -- was removed from the ballot as he obviously had yet to have “stood the test of time,” one of the criteria for entry into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Others nominated last year included Annie Duke, Chris Moneymaker, Patrik Antonius, and noted poker authors Mike Caro and David Sklansky. Norman Chad -- color commentator on the ESPN broadcasts of the WSOP -- apparently was nominated. So were people like Phil Hellmuth, Stu Ungar, and others already in the Poker Hall of Fame.

This year the polls were opened on July 1 and run through the end of August. The extra time for nominating this year might be one reason we’re seeing a few more names. I suppose the fact that this is the second year of the process -- and the fact that we just had that voting for the Tournament of Champions, too -- might also help explain the increase in nominations.

No idea how many of those 181 nominated so far this year are legitimate (or even eligible). Although really, when one thinks of the criteria and the fact that only 38 have been inducted since the Poker Hall of Fame was established back in 1979, it really doesn’t seem like there could be even two dozen “legitimate” nominees, let alone 181.

Thinking About the Poker Hall of Fame, Class of 2010Those criteria again, by the way, are as follows: (1) a player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition; (2) played for high stakes; (3) played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers; (4) stood the test of time; or (5) for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

So there is still over a week to submit nominations, if one wishes to do so. On September 1 we’ll learn the names of the top 10 vote-getters, as well as who ultimately makes it onto the ballot. I believe last year the living Hall of Famers were also invited to submit names (“write-in candidates”) to be added to the consideration list for this year, so we could see an additional name or two on the ballot, I think, that wasn’t among the top vote-getters.

At that point the currently living members of the Poker Hall of Fame (16 total now, I believe) and that panel of poker media will vote on the final list of nominees. It appears at that stage there will be a slight difference from last year in how the votes are tabulated.

Last year, the voters were limited to voting for three of the nine individuals on the ballot, and for a nominee to get in, he had to receive votes from at least 75% of those voting. I wrote a post last year about how that system appeared to guarantee that no more than one of the nine would get it, and perhaps could result in none of them getting the needed 75%.

This year, it looks like those voting on the finalists aren’t necessarily being limited to voting for just three candidates -- we can vote for as many or as few as we wish -- and in the end the top two vote-getters will be inducted, provided both receive at least 50% of the vote. Probably a good change, I think, that all but ensures there will not be a situation in which no one gets in, while also making certain there won’t be too many inducted at once. (EDIT [added 9/10/10]: Now that I have received my ballot, I have learned that in fact we are only allowed to vote for three of the 10 nominees.)

I assume we’ll see guys like Ivey, Negreanu, Seidel, and Harrington up for the vote again. The others from last year’s finalists’ ballot (Greenstein, McEvoy, Men Nguyen, and Scotty Nguyen) probably stand a good chance of getting back there, too.

Once we see the final ballot, I’ll probably write a post next month asking who people are favoring among the finalists. But at this stage -- with the nominations still open -- let me go ahead and ask:

Which players (or non-players) would you say are among those deserving to join that most exclusive group of Poker Hall of Famers?

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Blogger Pauly said...

Congrats on the distinction. I voted for Mike Sexton last year. Still on the fence about this year's selections -- but will wait until the official list is announced.

8/23/2010 1:27 PM  
Blogger Grange95 said...

Congrats! A well-deserved honor that is also well-entrusted with you.

I think Ivey has done enough over long enough to get in. Dan Harrington should be in for his career as well as his contributions to the development of the game via his books ("Harrington on Hold 'Em is nearly as sacred a poker text in the modern era as Super/System was back in the day).

Based on results, Negreanu hasn't really "stood the test of time" or performed well and consistently at high stakes, although he has generally been a good ambassador for the game. Barry Greenstein is light years ahead of Negreanu as a player, and also carries the ambassador role with ease.

8/23/2010 3:33 PM  

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