If the 2021 World Series of Poker is going on, that also means that the nominations are open for the 2021 Poker Hall of Fame. The Poker Hall of Fame, which has recognized poker greatness since 1979, has cracked the seal on their online nomination portal. Every person with a qualifying e-mail address can nominate one person for induction before the Championship Event later this year. Unlike previous years, however, there are clearly two players that deserve induction – the only problem is it appears that only one person will once again be inducted.

Same Criteria, But Only One Induction

The rules for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame have been consistent over the years. They are as follows:

Must be a minimum of 40 years old (the “Chip Reese Rule,” recognizing Reese as one of the all-time greats),

Must have played poker against acknowledged top competition,

Played for high stakes,

Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers,

Stood the test of time, and…

If the inductee is a non-player, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

Last year, there were a couple of other “unwritten rules” put into effect. Instead of the normal two-inductee class for each year (honestly, they could do three a year and still have some catching up to do) that they had inducted since 2005 (only the late Mike Sexton’s 2009 induction was a deviation), the Poker Hall of Fame only decided to go with one inductee in 2020, former World Champion Huck Seed. Additionally, once the ten nominees have been determined from the public nomination process, only the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame will be the only body voting on who will be the solo induction in 2021. You read that correctly – there will only be one induction again in 2021…

Two Choices Exist, Both More than Deserving

For all the people who are eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame, it is time that they considered a couple of men who have done significant good for the game of poker – and it would not be because of their playing prowess.

One choice would be a man who has spent much of his adult life trying to improve the activity of tournament poker for all of the poker community. Tournament director Matt Savage has created many different innovations in tournament poker, some for good (the Ironman tournament, the “Shooting Star” bounty tournament at Bay 101) and some for bad (re-entry/rebuy tournaments). He is one of the few individuals who has worked at the highest levels of both the WSOP (former Tournament Director for the entire series) and the World Poker Tour (currently their Executive Tournament Director) and has made each of those series better through his involvement. Finally, and certainly not the least, he was one of the figures behind the creation of the Tournament Directors Association, which looks for uniformity in tournament poker rules for all casinos. Add in his past work at Bay 101 and his current home at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and Savage has given a great deal to the improvement of the world of poker for us all.

The other gentleman on the list should have been inducted long ago, but circumstances prevented it from happening. The name Isai Scheinberg is a polarizing one in the game, but it should not distract from what he has done. Scheinberg may not be the man who created online poker with PokerStars, but he was certainly the one who made it a force in the poker world, both live and online.

Through his creation of PokerStars, Scheinberg brought the game to people who would have never thought of picking up cards. The online game brought a new dichotomy to the game, a faster and more technical (some would say) game than the sometimes-lethargic live game. Scheinberg’s PokerStars also brought champions to the fore, with a man by the name of Chris Moneymaker earning his seat to his eventual World Championship through a satellite on the site. Millions of people have found the joys of poker through Scheinberg’s creation.

Now, there is the downside. Scheinberg was a wanted fugitive for several years in the “Black Friday” actions by the U. S. government. Many believed (this writer included) that it would not be appropriate to try to induct someone who was under a federal indictment into poker’s Valhalla. Those charges have been settled now (it also has to be noted that Scheinberg made sure that PokerStars players were protected in the aftermath of “Black Friday” and even extended the same treatment to Full Tilt Poker players who otherwise would have been left in the lurch) and it is time that the world of poker give Scheinberg the credit and treatment that he is woefully overdue to receive.

No Players?

Yes, there are players that are worthy of taking a seat in the Poker Hall of Fame. Savage and Scheinberg are ones that deserve the recognition now, however, and delaying it any longer will just add insult to injury for both men (Savage has five previous nominations without getting in – he is more than overdue). The players will have their day, just not this year.

There is another statement that must be uttered to the Poker Hall of Fame. The idea of only inducting one player a year is a LUDICROUS one (I would use Nick Fury’s line to the Council from The Avengers here, but let’s keep it clean). There are a dozen players or contributors that I could rattle off the top of my head that are deserving of induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Two was the minimum that should be inducted – lowering it to one is simply inane.

The poker community is invited to put their choice in through the WSOP website here. There is no closing date announced but, with the Championship Event being played from November 4 through November 17, the date for nominations would have to close within the next couple of weeks. After that, it is in the hands of the living Poker Hall of Fame members as to who will be the next inductee to join them in the philosophical Poker Hall of Fame – oh, THAT is something that needs to be taken care of too!

One Comment

  1. Karla Yamaguchi says:

    I wholeheartedly choose Matt Savage for all the above aforementioned reasons and then some! His dedication is genuine and true and he the people’s person and he always takes time to answer the questions, explain the rulings and do research if needed. I am simply a poker dealer and have had the privilege of working with Matt many times. Not only is he a true leader and inspiration, he treats everyone with respect and fairness and always made me feel welcomed and appreciated. For all his fantastic accolades which I am sure there will be many more, he is a quality human being and a generous soul. We all happened to get lucky and are entirely blessed that poker chose him and that he chooses poker again and again. His dedication will never diminish; I am certain of this! He deserves to won this honor without doubt!
    Thank you so much in advance!

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