The Women in Poker Hall of Fame is set to induct a new class of members to their rolls this fall. In the past, they have traditionally kept their voting “in the house,” meaning that a select committee and the past inductees were the only ones who were voting on new members. For the 2016 class, however, the WiPHoF has decided to offer the poker public a voice in the matter.
First, here’s a list of the potential inductees and a quick word as to their qualifications:
Debbie Burkhead – Longtime player, reporter, photographer and instructor, involvement with poker since the mid-90s.
Karina Jett – Outstanding tournament and cash game history, advocate for women in the game since the late 1990s.
Victoria Coren-Mitchell – The only two-time champion in the history of the European Poker Tour, longtime veteran of the toughest cash games in Europe.
Mandy Glogow – Television producer behind the World Poker Tour for Fox Sports 1.
Shirley Rosario – Cash game expert with vast knowledge of Omaha Hold’em and Seven Card Stud, still terrorizing the Southern California card rooms.
Esther Rossi – Considered one of the best Stud players in history – regardless of gender – Rossi has battled it out on the felt for more than 30 years across the United States.
Jennifer Tilly – 2005 World Series of Poker Ladies’ Champion, multiple cashes on the WSOP and World Poker Tour circuits. Longtime advocate of women in poker.
For this year’s nominees, the WiPHoF has asked that the poker public visit their website and choose just ONE of these ladies for consideration for the Hall. The public vote will count as one vote alongside the previously inducted members of the Hall and the overseeing voting council. The public will have until noon on May 13 to be able to enter their choice and the newest inductees into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame will be named later this month.
First off, the choices put up by the WiPHoF are excellent. Any of the ladies mentioned above would be worthy of induction alongside the likes of Barbara Enright and Linda Johnson (the only members of both the Women in Poker Hall of Fame and the Poker Hall of Fame), Cyndy Violette, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, J. J. Liu, Kathy Raymond, Allyn Shulman and Deborah Giardina. In theory, however, only two of the ladies mentioned above will get inducted and these two seem to be the best choices.
The WiPHoF could break a longstanding issue that the Poker Hall of Fame has in recognizing players that come from outside of North America (Liu was born in Taiwan but is a naturalized U. S. citizen). Great Britain’s Coren-Mitchell has been an advocate for women in poker since she stepped to the felt in her early years. Vicky has been an ambassador for the game, writing about her exploits on the felt in a variety of newspapers and in her autobiography For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker. Finally, as the ONLY player to ever have won two EPT Main Event titles in that tour’s 12-year history (in comparison, the World Poker Tour has had four men who have won three titles and no woman has ever won an open event), Coren-Mitchell would be hugely overlooked if she isn’t chosen.
If there were to be a second choice from the public, it should be Rossi. Linking the game’s past to the Hall is something that can never be seen as an incorrect decision. Rossi’s skills in the game – when it wasn’t “appropriate” for the ladies to be a part of the game – had to have been very strong to withstand the onslaught at the tables in those days. To repeat, this isn’t a slight against the other women in the mix. These are arguably the best two choices available, however.
Currently the vote is heavily going towards Rosario, who is dominating with nearly 60% of the vote. Jett, Burkhead and Tilly are all battling it out with about 10-12% of the vote, while Coren-Mitchell lags back (7%) and Glogow and Rossi aren’t earning very much support. The polls will remain open until Friday and, by the end of the month, the newest inductees to the Women in Poker Hall of Fame will be known.