Chris Moneymaker and David Oppenheim were announced as the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2019 on Monday night during the final table action of the World Series of Poker Main Event. They were voted on by a panel of media members and living Poker Hall of Famers from a list of ten finalists.
Those ten finalists – Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Moneymaker, Oppenheim, and Huckleberry Seed – were nominated by the public. The 30 living Poker Hall of Famers and 21 poker media members then took ten votes each and spread them among the finalists in whatever way they saw fit. One per finalists, all ten with one finalist (which is what Phil Hellmuth said he did with Ted Forrest), it didn’t matter. The two top vote getters were elected to the Hall.
Anyone reading this site knows about Chris Moneymaker. He is the 2003 WSOP Main Event champ who famously qualified via a cheap satellite on PokerStars and stared down the best pros on his way to a bracelet. His epic bluff against Sammy Farha heads-up is something you would find in a movie script.
Since his poker-world-shaking victory, Moneymaker has had on-and-off success on the felt, but has become one of the greatest ambassadors poker could ever have. That is the primary reason why Poker Hall of Famers and knowledgeable media members felt he was deserving. He was the catalyst behind the poker boom – hence the “The Moneymaker Effect” – but since his big moment, he has continued to be a positive force for poker.
Most of you, though, probably don’t know much about David Oppenheim, or even who he is at all. Oppenheim is one of the world’s foremost high stakes cash game players, but since he isn’t much of a tournament player (despite having a couple million in live tournament earnings), his exploits don’t make headlines.
He is so anonymous to the casual poker fan that during the World Series of Poker broadcast Monday night, Phil Hellmuth said he believed that Daniel Negreanu gave Oppenheim seven votes not just because he was deserving, but because he wanted him elected now in fear that Oppenheim might not make the finalists list in the future.
In a statement, Oppenheim said of his election:
Being recognized as one of the all-time greats by my peers is truly humbling and I am honored to have been selected to the Hall of Fame. I have been so fortunate to be able to do what I do for a living. I never planned to be a professional poker player, rather it was a passion that became my job.
People often ask me, how does one become a professional poker player? The answer is hard work and that goes for everyone that plays at the highest level. From the time I began playing I was incredibly passionate about and it led to me being able to travel this road that has been traveled by very few. Again, I am extremely grateful to be receiving this honor. Thank you.