Two legends of poker were inducted into the poker hall of fame yesterday, in a brief press conference/ceremony conducted on the ESPN stage in the main tournament room of the WSOP.
Crandall Addington, and Jack Binion were given poker's highest honor yesterday, and were inducted by the legend himself, Doyle Brunson.
Seated at the press table were Brunson, Addington, Phil Gordon, Binion, and several Harrah's executives. For about the first thirty minutes Brunson dominated most of the conversation, talking about the old days, the current state of poker, and sharing funny stories from a time that was greatly different from what we see today.
"Jack has been my best friend since, oh, about 1970" Brunson began as he wistfully recounted the days of Jack, and his Father Benny Binion founding the tournament that started it all. "If it wasn't for the Binions" Doyle continued "None of this would be happening"
Jack was his energetic self, with his trademark big smile, and booming voice. Making an effort to deflect the attention from himself, Jack spent most of his time on the mic talking about Crandall, Doyle, and his father Benny.
Addington was recognized for his contributions to the WSOP, as he was one of the six people that were seated around a table in Reno, Nevada when the idea for the world series of poker was born.
"No one knew what a poker tournament was in those days" Brunson mused "Actually, to be frank we thought it was a good way to get more weak players into the side games"
Addington has been out of the poker world for 20 years, and has become a very successful businessman, being one of the principals of a Biotechnology firm in Phoenix (for more on Crandall's company, reference our earlier story). Crandall was gracious, if not wordy, and one word seemed to describe this man from poker's past: class.
Phil Gordon followed Crandall's words with a brief chat about his charity "Put a bad beat on cancer" and how he was hoping to get as many players signed up into his 1% program (hundreds of players have pledged 1% of their winnings in the main event to Phil's charity).
The induction ceremony was a real reason to feel good about poker, and the assembled media began to prepare for the Q&A session when one of the executives at the table started reading a prepared statement about some new slot machine that was being launched with the WSOP name on it. This brought the event to a screeching halt, and was an unfortunate reminder that this is no longer poker, but big business.
All in all, the induction ceremony was a reason to feel good about poker's future, and it's past.
Ed note: Doyle's Room is where hall of famers play.