After the compilation of the fans’ selections for consideration, the Poker Hall of Fame have announced the top ten nominees, with two of the men on the list being enshrined in the ‘Valhalla of poker’ during the final table play of the World Series of Poker Championship Event.
The ten men on the list run the gamut of poker history. There are two newcomers to the field – players who haven’t been nominated prior to 2017 – along with eight other men, three of which were nominated last year and five who have previously been nominated. Additionally, there are five foreign-born players – players born outside the States of America – although a couple of them have become naturalized citizens of the U. S.
Here are the ten men who will vie for the honor of induction with the 2017 class of the Poker Hall of Fame, presented in alphabetical order:
David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott
Of the two new names on the list, one is all but guaranteed to be a first ballot induction. Ivey, the holder of 10 WSOP bracelets, a World Poker Tour championship (and 10 final tables, a record), various other major championships (including back-to-back wins in the Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge) and a terror on the high stakes cash game circuit, should be a shoo-in for one of the seats at the table come the induction ceremonies. The big question will be who joins him.
A large segment of the international community would like to see Ulliott get recognition for his exploits on the felt and his impact on the game in the United Kingdom and Europe, but Hansen has had just as great an effect on Norway and in Europe. Eskandani, who emigrated from Iran at the age of 18 and has become a naturalized U. S. citizen, is the other newcomer in 2017 who is being recognized not only for his play but for his work “behind the scenes” in some of the best poker television productions created that the “rest of the world” would like to see inducted. Both having been previous nominees, there isn’t much call for Pescatori’s or Chiu’s induction into the Hall (odd because both are outstanding players worthy of induction).
For the North American contingency, the odds-on favorite seems to be Savage, for the lengthy resume of work he has as a tournament director. Savage was the lead TD for the WSOP and currently is the Executive Tour Director for the WPT and calls the Commerce Casino his home base. Along the way, Savage has introduced some of the biggest innovations in tournament poker – for better (the Ironman Tournament, played with no stoppages) or for worse (re-entry tournaments) – and been the leader of the Tournament Directors Association, which is seeking to coordinate tournament rules at casinos around the world. Forrest, Matusow and Seed all have resumes that are Hall worthy, but there doesn’t seem to be the clamor for their induction.
With the 10 men nominated, the rest of the process is in the hands of the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame – 27 men and women – and an 18-member panel of poker journalists. Although the actual process is a closely guarded secret, in previous years each of the voters had 10 votes to allocate. Under those previous rules, the individual voter could give all ten votes to one player or break them up amongst three players. The top two vote-getters (if they meet a requirement that they received 50% of the vote) earn induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.
The 45-person voting bloc has their work cut out for them. They must return their ballot to the WSOP Governing Council by July 15 and, after the votes have been tallied, the new members of the Hall of Fame will be announced. Those new members will be honored during the play of the WSOP Championship Event final table on July 21 during ESPN’s broadcast of the tournament.