The public nomination stage for the 2017 class of the Poker Hall of Fame is now open, as is evident by the availability of the online ballot on the Poker Hall of Fame website. As always, poker fans (and non-fans, for that matter, though I don’t know why someone who didn’t like poker would participate) can nominate whomever they would like. I, personally, am not campaigning, but if you would like to nominate someone whose words you are reading right now, I would not stand in your way.
The criteria for eligibility remain the same as last year:
1. A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition.
2. Played for high stakes.
3. Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination.
4. Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers.
5. Stood the test of time.
6. Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
Obviously, several of these points are subjective, but they also tend to fall in the “you’ll know it when you see it” category. We know when people are playing against top competition. We generally know if someone has played “consistently well” throughout their careers – if they didn’t, we probably wouldn’t even think about them for the Hall of Fame.
The one absolutely objective criterion – the age minimum – is of particular importance this year because it means Phil Ivey, who is arguably the Poker Hall of Fame lock of the century, is finally eligible (I became eligible last year, if you were wondering). Ivey turned 40-years old on February 1st.
After the public nomination period ends in late August, the nominees will be whittled down to ten finalists. Most of these finalists will be the top vote-getters, but because those nominated by the public are always players, there are often a couple at the lower end of the list swapped out for “contributors,” or non-players who deserve recognition.
When the ten finalists are eventually announced, it will then be up to a panel of living Hall of Fame members and select members of the media (I am not one of them – you can correct this by simply voting me into the Hall) to cast their votes. Each voter can cast as many as ten ballots, giving all of their votes to one person or splitting them up amongst multiple finalists. The top one or two vote getters (this part is often vague) will be elected to the Hall.
In recent years, as one might expect, we have seen some of the familiar faces from the mid-aughts poker boom inducted. Last year, Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen were selected to the Poker Hall of Fame. The year before, it was Jennifer Harman and John Juanda, with Daniel Negreanu and renowned tournament director Jack McClelland making it in the year prior to that.