The Main Event isn’t the only news coming out of the 2018 World Series of Poker this week as the Poker Hall of Fame has announced the list of ten finalists for this year’s induction class. The finalists were determined by a public nominations process followed by a review by the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council.
The finalists for the 2018 Poker Hall of Fame are, in alphabetical order:
Hennigan and Oppenheim are the only two finalists of the ten who had never made the list before this year.
Where It Goes From Here
It is now up to a panel of the 28 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 18 media members (AGAIN, I AM NOT ONE OF THEM, DAMMIT) to vote on who should ultimately make it into the Hall. Very few details of the process are ever divulged from this point, but assuming it works as it has for the last several years, each voter has ten votes which they can divvy up however they choose. Someone can give all ten votes to one person, give one to every finalists, etc. After that, either one or two people will be elected, but we never find out what the vote tallies were or what the vote threshold was for induction.
Voters are to take the following into criteria into account when making their selections (though one would assume these criteria were already used during the nomination process):
• 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
This year should be interesting, as there isn’t one person on the list who looks like a total shoo-in. Last year, for instance, Phil Ivey was a no-brainer. It may make voters cast their ballots for who they truly think is deserving, as well. In previous years, there had been some talk that voters may opt to cast their lots for finalists who they felt needed the votes, rather than who might have been absolutely the most deserving (not that those who got votes weren’t deserving). For example, everybody knew Ivey was getting in last year, so some members of the voting panel may have opted to give more votes to someone else, assuming Ivey would get more than enough votes.
I would suspect that this year, either a) the votes will be very spread out, or b) someone who has been on the list for a number of years will get a lot of votes, as balloters will want to see that person finally rewarded.
As mentioned, eight of the finalists have been in this spot before. Not all were on the ballot last year, though. Those returning to the final ten from 2017 are Chiu, Eskandani, Matusow, Savage, and Seed. Ted Forrest, Thor Hansen, and Max Pescatori were unable to make it to this stage in back-to-back years (and Phil Ivey and David “Devilfish” Ulliott were inducted, so they obviously aren’t finalists).
Ballots are due by July 8th.