2016 WSOP Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

Poker Hall of FameThe annual row about who should be inducted into the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame has been ignited with the release of the ten nominees for consideration in 2016.

Every year the World Series of Poker (WSOP) releases a list of ten nominees who will be considered for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Every year tempers get frayed over the worthiness of the nominees, and the worthiness of those who have been left off the list.

This year, the annual row ignited faster than usual due to the list of nominees being released just as Mike “The Mouth” Matusow was logging into his Twitter account. On reading the list of nominees, Matusow went into overdrive, criticising everybody on the list except two – Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen.

Matusow wanted to know why Huck Seed and David Chui were not among the nominees, and why he had been left off the list. He claimed he contributed more to the growth of poker pre-2005 than Chris Moneymaker did after his WSOP Main Event victory, that the list was corrupt and politically motivated.

Who is in the Running for the 2016 WSOP Poker Hall of Fame?

What Matusow forgets is that the public have a strong influence over who is nominated. Voting for the WSOP 2016 Poker Hall of Fame opened back in June and, the for the past three months, votes have been cast in their thousands. When voting closed, the votes were “vetted” to ensure the nominees met the qualification criteria, and the list of the ten most popular “qualified” nominees released.

Just for a change, the ten nominees have a strong pro-European flavour. There has been plenty of criticism in the past for the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame being “Vegas-centric”, but 2016 could see the first European player recognised for their achievements. The ten nominees are:

Chris Bjorin Chris Moneymaker
Humberto Brenes Carlos Mortensen
Todd Brunson Max Pescatori
Eli Elezra Matt Savage
Bruno Fitoussi Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot

Opinion is divided over whether Chris Moneymaker is a shoe-in for induction or not. Unlike Matusow, many in the industry believe that Moneymaker raised the profile of online poker more than anybody else and, by consequence, the profile of live poker and poker on TV. However, 2014 Poker Hall of Famer, Daniel Negreanu, disagreed with his PokerStars colleague´s nomination for the 2016 WSOP Poker Hall of Fame.

Who is Not in the Running?

There are a couple of notable absentees from the list of nominations for the 2016 WSOP Hall of Fame. Pre-voting favourite, Phil Ivey, was disqualified by age, while David Sklansky and Mike Caro appear to have been overlooked again by the voting public. Apparently Ivey lied about his age to get a game of poker in his twenties, and he will not be eligible for consideration until 2017. But what about Isai Scheinberg´s omission from the list of nominees?

Scheinberg – the founder of PokerStars – was undoubtedly fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when Party Poker pulled out of the US market in 2007. However, between 2007 and 2014 (when Scheinberg sold PokerStars to Amaya Gaming) he helped develop the world´s leading online poker site into the market-dominating force it is today. As events since 2014 have shown, it is not easy to run a behemoth the size of PokerStars and keep everybody as happy as Scheinberg did.

Plenty of people believe – and have believed for years – that the WSOP does not want to be associated with Scheinberg for political reasons. As the years go on, the conspiracy theory attracts more and more support – so much so that Adam Schwartz and Terence Chan created their own Internet Poker Hall of Fame on the 2+2 forum and made Scheinberg its first member.

What Happens Now?

The list of nominees now gets circulated around existing Poker Hall of Famers and a media panel, who rate each of the nominees with a score of one to ten. The list is returned to the WSOP governing council, who add up all the votes and declare which of the nominees will be inducted into the 2016 WSOP Poker Hall of Fame. The results shown be known around the end of October, and the induction ceremony will take place at Binion´s Casino prior to the start of the 2016 WSOP Main Event Final Table in November.