Ten Poker Hall of Fame Candidates for 2018 Announced
Ten official finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame class of 2018 have been selected following a public nomination process and a screening process by the PHOF Governing Council.
In addition to eight players who have been finalists in previous years, two new candidates join the runnings, and they are John Hennigan and David Oppenheim. The eight other finalists who have been nominated before, include Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Mori Eskandani, Bruno Fitoussi, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, Matt Savage, and Huck Seed.
Official ballots will be sent today to the 28 living HoF members and the 18 members of a media voting panel, to be submitted by July 8 to the WSOP Governing Council for the tally. The inductee(s) will then be announced and the induction of the newest member or members will take place on July 13 as part of the WSOP Main Event final table festivities.
Since its establishment in 1979, a total of 54 individuals have been bestowed Poker HoF honors, a list of which can be found here.
As per WSOP.com, the candidates will be judged on the following criteria, and the one or two most deserving will be selected from the lot:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
- Played for high stakes
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
The Ten Candidates (in alphabetical order)
The 70-year-old Swedish-born poker pro, Chris Bjorin, sits second on Sweden’s all-time money list, only behind 2014 WSOP Main Event winner Martin Jacobson. Bjorin’s consistent tournament poker success is marked by more than $5.7 million in earnings. He also has two bracelets to his credit, 92 WSOP cashes for the seventh-most, and has the fifth-most WSOP Main Event cashes with seven. Still going strong, he has cashed in five events in the 2018 WSOP and has cashed for six-figured in 19 different calendar years across his career.
David Chiu’s tournament poker career dates back to 1996, and in the intervening more than two decades he has racked up more than $8 million in earnings, including five WSOP bracelet wins and a $3.3 million 2008 WPT World Championship win where he defeated Gus Hansen heads up.
With 74 total WSOP cashes, the 57-year-old’s five bracelets came in Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Eight or Better, showcasing his versatility. After being born in China, Chiu moved to the U.S. at age 18 and was a restaurant-owner in Colorado before transitioning into dealing poker and then playing full-time.
Formerly known as a high-stakes cash game player when he moved to Las Vegas from Portland, Oregon in the 1980s, Mori Eskandani is much better known for his work behind the scenes in producing some of the most well-known poker content of the modern era. The producer and owner of Poker PROductions is responsible for televised poker content including Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Face the Ace, and is the current producer for the WSOP telecasts for ESPN and PokerGO.
French pro Bruno Fitoussi is credited as a major reason for poker’s popularity in France, as he introduced Texas hold’em to the Aviation Cub de France in 1995 and was influential in getting the game televised there, subsequently providing commentary for various shows in the intervening years.
With more than $2.8 million in tournament earnings, Fitoussi sits twelfth on France’s all-time money list and has stayed relevant in the game for more than two decades. Known as “The King,” Fitoussi defeated Amarillo Slim in the inaugural World Heads Up Poker Championship in 2001 and claimed his largest cash of $1,278,720 for his runner-up finish in the 2007 $50K Poker Players Championship losing to Freddy Deeb.
John Hennigan, known by those in high-stakes poker circles as “Johnny World,” has about $8.1 million in career tournament earnings to his credit, all from scores in the U.S. He has 40 career WSOP cashes for more than $5.5 million in winnings, his five bracelets coming in Limit, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, H.O.R.S.E., 2-7 Lowball, and in the 2014 Poker Players Championship, which remains his largest score at $1,517,767.
In addition to showing versatility in the variety of events he has won, Hennigan continues to prove himself among the best. He has already cashed nine times at the 2018 WSOP, including a first-place, second-place (in the Poker Players Championship), and two seventh-place finishes.
Fifty-year-old Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has four bracelets and more than $9.4 million in tournament earnings to his name. He has many deep runs in large-field events and has final tabled 15 WSOP events, including the Main Event in both 2001 and again in 2005. He also has five WPT final tables and won the $20,000 buy-in NBC Heads-Up Championship in 2013. He has six WSOP cashes in the 2018 series, including a final table in the $1,500 PLO Hi/Lo 8 or Better that resulted in a fourth-place finish for $75,708.
Chris Moneymaker has the honor of significantly contributing to the biggest poker boom in history with his unlikely and heavily televised 2003 WSOP Main Event win that coincided with the first year that the event was broadcast with hole cards revealed on ESPN for the world to watch. The Tennessee accountant’s rags to riches poker success story, in which he turned an online satellite win into the $2.5 million Main Event top prize, resonated with many amateurs, emboldened to take their shot.
His win in his first live poker tournament ever was followed by heavy publicity including an appearance on the Tonight Show, and he has followed it up by continuing to play the game and serve as a key ambassador of the game ever since. Since his Main Event win, Moneymaker has cashed 80 times on four different continents and now has earnings that total $3.7 million.
David Oppenheim is a 45-year-old cash game pro, considered one of the most feared high-stakes cash game players in the world. His most notable tournament cash was a third-place finish in the 2010 WSOP Poker Players Championship for $603,348. While Oppenheim’s career tournament earnings sit at $1,875,228, he’s better known for his cash game prowess in a variety of poker variants across more than two decades.
Outside of poker players, Matt Savage is one of the most recognizable faces in poker, a tournament director that has done ample work in the promotion and standardization of the game. The tournament director for Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, California and at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Savage is also the Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour, traveling across the U.S. and internationally to run events.
As an inaugural founder of the Tournament Directors Association (TDA), Savage has been a major proponent of standardizing poker tournament rules for use across the world, and also maintains a huge Twitter presence where he fields questions from professional and recreational players.
Huck Seed is a four-time bracelet winner with $7.6 million in earnings. Seed has demonstrated great versatility in his game with bracelet wins in Razz and PLO, the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions, and in the 1996 Main Event. He also has two $50K Poker Players Championship final table appearances and a win in the NBC Heads-Up Championship. Since his first tournament result in 1990, Seed has posted earnings in the six-figures in 22 different calendar years.
Stay tuned for the coming announcement of the newest Poker Hall of Famer(s), and the induction coinciding with the WSOP Main Event final table July 13.