In a lavish ceremony at the birthplace of the World Series of Poker, poker professionals Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen were enshrined as the 2016 inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame.
The ceremony brought out many of the living Hall of Famers to welcome their new mates to poker’s Valhalla. In an especially memorable moment, the younger Brunson was joined by his father and now fellow Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson for a family photo of the occasion. The celebration was especially sweet in that it is the first time that a father and son have been enshrined in poker’s greatest lifetime achievement award.
“This wasn’t quite what I expected,” Todd Brunson noted before his acceptance speech, “so I apologize for what’s about to come,” to the laughter of the audience. Brunson then went on to deliver a solid five-minute routine that would earn a stand-up comedian his living if he had been in that arena. But there were some serious moments as Brunson thanked a few people for what they had done for him.
“First off, I’d like to thank my mother,” Brunson began. “My mother had a big impact on me not only as a person but also as a poker player. That may surprise some because my mother…hasn’t played a hand of poker in her life. But she taught me valuable lessons about life that transcended poker. The #1 thing she taught me was the value of a dollar…my mom is very frivolous, very good with money.” Brunson continued to regale those in attendance with stories about his time in the game and left the stage to raucous applause.
Both men were more than worthy of their induction into the Hall. Mortensen is the first-ever European player inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, having used his skills around the world and spread the game of poker to his fellow countrymen in Spain. He is the leading all-time money winner on the World Poker Tour and is tied for the most WPT titles in the history of the circuit (three, along with Anthony Zinno and Gus Hansen). On the World Series of Poker stage, Mortensen was the winner of the WSOP Championship Event in 2001 and, along with his win in the WPT World Championship in 2007, is the only man to win both the WSOP World Championship and the WPT version. In his career, Mortensen has won over $6.8 million.
Brunson might be viewed as the more traditional inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame. Brunson has had a successful tournament career, earning a WSOP bracelet in 2005, and he has finished as high as 13th in the WSOP Championship Event. Brunson also has 45 other WSOP cashes, seven trips to the WPT cash out cage and a solo effort on the soon-to-be-departed European Poker Tour to make up his $4.3 million in career earnings.
Where Brunson has made his money, in the true tradition of what poker is supposed to be about (to many in the poker world), is on the cash game felt. For at least 25 years, Brunson has plied his trade in the high stakes cash game arena, earning untold amounts of money from that endeavor but assuredly enough to support a very nice lifestyle. In one setting alone that has been documented, Brunson defeated businessman and billionaire Andy Beal in a $200,000/$400,000 Limit Hold’em matchup to the tune of over $13 million. That success was documented by Michael Craig in his seminal work The Professor, The Banker and the Suicide King.
Congratulations to both men for their induction into the Poker Hall of Fame!