The World Series of Poker announced the ten finalists for the 2019 class of the Poker Hall of Fame this weekend. The list of names should be familiar to poker fans, not just because, as Poker Hall of Fame finalists, everyone on the list has been poker royalty for years, but also because all but one of them has been a finalist before.
Here are the ten finalists, organized alphabetically.
The one newcomer to the list is Antonio Esfandiari; the nine other men have made it this far in the process in the past. All of them have achieved their poker notoriety on the felt – none of them are what would be considered “contributors” to the poker industry, a term for non-players, or at least people who made their name more away from the tables than at them. Certainly, Esfandiari has become an outstanding television poker commentator and Chris Moneymaker is in a way known more as a poker ambassador and industry catalyst than as a Hall of Fame-level poker player, but all ten men (no women are on the list) are poker players through and through.
The ten finalists were determined first through a public nomination process and then vetted by the Poker Hall of Fame Executive committee. All nominees must meet the following published standards:
• A player 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
• Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
From here, it is up to the 30 living Hall of Fame members and a panel of 21 poker media members (of which I am not a part, AGAIN) to cast the final votes. Each person has ten votes to cast which can be divided any way they would like. Someone could give all ten votes to a single finalist, split them five and five between two people, or cast one vote for every finalist.
The top two vote-getters will be enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame. The last time there was just one person elected was 2009 when poker player and long-time face of the World Poker Tour, Mike Sexton, got the nod. Last year, John “World Hennigan (who just won the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship at the World Series of Poker) and Mori Eskandani were elected to the Poker Hall of Fame.
Voters have two weeks to submit their ballots. The inductions will be broadcast as part of the World Series of Poker Main Event final table on July 15th.