Throughout their careers, poker players get different awards, cash prizes, and sparkly trophies. But what most players want is recognition for their abilities, which is why offline and online poker players dream of being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Every year, one or two lucky players are offered a membership at this highly exclusive club. And once their names are introduced into the Hall of Fame, no one can dispute the fact that they are phenomenal poker players.
As the year is coming to a close and the WSOP is receiving nominations for the 2020 Hall of Fame class, it is time to take a look at past nominees and the prestigious establishment itself. Are you ready for a walk down memory lane?
In the past, poker players were chosen to join the Poker Hall of Fame by a few people who were in charge of the entire operation. However, since 2009, the process of becoming a member of this club has changed. Nowadays, the public can nominate their favorite players of the year – as long as they are at least 40 years old.
But the player's age is not the only criteria the nominees have to adhere to. In order to be eligible to get a membership at the Poker Hall of Fame, those rules must be followed:
- The nominee must have played consistently well.
- The nominee must have a history of playing for high stakes.
- The player in question must have played against top competitors, thus earning the respect of other players.
- The player's skills must have stood the test of time.
- If the person being nominated is not a player, he must have contributed to the industry in a positive and long-lasting way.
Poker players who meet those criteria have a decent chance of gaining a spot in the Poker Hall of Fame. But since only one or two people get selected each year, it can take years for a successful poker pro to get the recognition he or she desires.
Top 5 Hall of Fame Players
Over the years, 58 amazing players managed to land a spot at the Poker Hall of Fame. Let's take a look at some of the most popular players of all time and what they've achieved.
- Johnny Moss – In 1979, the year the Poker Hall of Fame was established, 7 players were induced – but only one of them was alive at the time. The Grand Old Man if Poker was born in 1907, and he kept playing the game he loved right until his death in 1995. Over the years, he won 9 WSOP bracelets, with total live earnings of up to $1,254,859.
- Jack "Treetop" Straus – Born in 1930, Straus managed to snag two WSOP bracelet over his poker career. He is most known for his win of the 1982 WSOP Main Event when he had the comeback of the century. At some point in the game, Treetop was down to one chip, and even though everyone else already counted him out, he managed to make his way back to the top with steely resolve. This amazing poker pro died at the age of 58, during a game of poker. Later that year, he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
- David "Chip" Reese – Over the years, Reese earned a total of $3,999,090. He won 3 WSOP bracelets and had 23 money finishes, which is impressive by all counts. In his early life, Reese was supposed to study law at Stanford, but by then, Reese already managed to win over$100,000 in Vegas, which led him to pursue a career in poker instead. He managed to get a Poker Hall of Fame membership in 1991.
- William "Billy" Baxter Jr. – Baxter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the class of 2006, as he won 7 WSOP bracelets and had 35 money finishes over the years. But even though his poker skills are quite impressive all on their own, Billy is most known for his involvement in a poker-related court case. In the past, poker winnings were classified as "unearned income", which meant they were accompanied up to 70% taxes. But after Baxter's win in court, poker earnings were recognized as "earned income", which helped protect the livelihood of many professional poker players.
- Phil Ivey – There are only four poker players around the world who won 10+ WSOP bracelets, and Phil Ivey is one of them. He joined the Poker Hall of Fame family in 2017, with 59 money finishes under his belt, and more than $30m in live earnings.
Over the years, many poker players managed to make quite an impact on the industry. Who do you think will join the Poker Hall of Fame this year?