The fan ballots have been tabulated and the results are in. Yesterday, World Series of Poker officials announced the ten people who have been nominated for the sole induction into the Poker Hall of Fame this year. It is a mix of those who have been down this road before, along with a few newcomers to add some flavor to the mix.

Excellent List of Nominees

WSOP officials do not announce the “official” numbers behind the nomination efforts but, with a worldwide effort from the fans, they did produce ten worthy candidates. Seven of the nominees have been here before, with three of the nominees being considered for the first time. These are the nominees for the lone induction into the Poker Hall of Fame for 2022 (in alphabetical order):

Josh Arieh
Layne Flack
Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier
Kathy Liebert
Mike Matusow
Lon McEachern & Norman Chad
Michael Mizrachi
Brian Rast
Matt Savage
Isai Scheinberg

And, for those who might have come late to the game, these are the criteria that the prospective inductees are being judged on for entry:

A player must have played against acknowledged top competition;
Be a minimum of 40 years old;
Played for high stakes;
Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers;
Stood the test of time;

For non-playing candidates, they must have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible and lasting results.

Handicapping the Ten Selections

The Nomination Class for 2022 for the Poker Hall of Fame is very worthy of their position. You can nitpick some of the choices – the fans’ nominations are NEVER going to acknowledge the history of the game – but they are all worth being inducted. But there is one reality that exists when it comes to the selection of the next member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

In past years, there were an equal number of living Poker Hall of Fame members and a select committee of knowledgeable poker insiders – writers, historians, and industry veterans – who took the fans’ nominations under consideration. Today, the only votes are in the hands of the living members of the Hall, 32 people, who will have ten votes to hand out as they see fit; they could give one vote to each nominee, break up their votes among several people, or give all ten votes to one candidate. The one thing that we can be assured of is that the vote will go to a player rather than a “non-playing” contributor.

Thus, this means we can take the McEachern/Chad team, Savage, and Scheinberg off the list. While they may be more than worthy for their contributions, the living Hall members are not going to consider them worthy of induction (which is why it is important to have the counterweight in the select committee). That leaves seven potential inductees.

Arieh, Liebert, and Rast are first-time nominees, and it is quite rare for a first-time nominee to be inducted into the Hall. Matusow fails to live up to the “play consistently well” segment of the criteria, as he himself has admitted that he has “gone broke” several times. Grospellier would be an excellent international selection, but the living Hall members have been a bit reticent to induct foreign players (yes, Eli Elezra was elected in 2021, but prior to that the last foreign player inducted was the late David ‘DevilFish’ Ulliott in 2017).

That leaves two choices on the board, Mizrachi and Flack, who passed away last year. That will probably be the overriding factor to election for many of the Hall members is the fact that they cannot honor their “old friend” Flack for his efforts in the world of poker due to his passing. Mizrachi is arguably the more deserving player – he is the only player to win THREE $50,000 Poker Players’ Championships, a feat that has not even been approached by anyone else – but it could also be said that Mizrachi’s book is still being written.

Thus, Layne Flack will more than likely be the player who is chosen for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2022. The ceremonies will be held during the play of the $10,000 Championship Event final table in July, with that player (or contributor) taking their place in poker’s Mount Olympus.

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