The Poker Hall of Fame was created to honor the best there has ever been in the game. While honoring those who have, at best, been at the periphery of the game (“Wild Bill” Hickok?), the Poker Hall of Fame has pretty much gotten it right except for one area, female players. To this date, only three women – Barbara Enright, Linda Johnson and Jennifer Harman – have earned their induction into this pantheon. To be sure that women get the deserved recognition for their contributions to the game, the Women in Poker Hall of Fame was created.

Active since 2008, the past couple of cycles of elections have come at two-year intervals for the WiPHoF. As the last induction ceremonies were conducted in 2016, it is time once again for new members to be admitted to the Hall. To help facilitate this process, officials with the Women in Poker Hall of Fame have recently opened the nomination process to determine their 2018 inductees.

As with the Poker Hall of Fame’s process, the Women’s Hall allows for the public to nominate one woman for the select Media & Industry Voting Panel to consider. Unlike the main Hall, however, every candidate that meets the criteria for entry into the Women’s Hall will be put forth for consideration. The criteria for election into the Women’s Hall is as such:

A candidate must have been active as a player or industry leader for a minimum of 10 years prior to election and 35 years old or older.
Candidate must have contributed to the world of poker in a significant manner, either through winning major poker events or making other significant contributions to the industry of poker.
Candidate must be a proponent of women in poker.
Candidate must meet approval of the WiPHoF Committee and the current members of the Hall.
Candidate must agree to the terms and conditions of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

Once the ballot is set, the Media & Industry Voting Panel and the Hall members will consider the list and vote for their selections. Once the vote is tallied, the highest vote getters are announced and eligible for induction into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. Those new inductees will be honored during ceremonies on June 26 at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas.

But here’s the big question…who deserves to be nominated?

Much like the Poker Hall of Fame, it is a long list of potential nominees that are available for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. The following women should be considered for nomination by the public.

Betty Carey – This one harkens back before the internet days of the poker world. Heck, it even harkens back to when the World Series of Poker was but a struggling tournament poker series. But for those that remember the exploits of such men as Doyle Brunson, “Amarillo” Slim Preston, Puggy Pearson and many others who have gone on to the Poker Hall of Fame, Carey is one of the women who was able to keep up with them.

There is the legend that Preston and Carey played a heads-up match in which the effervescent Preston table-talked Carey for a $100,000 stake. Part of the problem, Carey realized afterwards, was that Preston’s incessant talking had forced her into a verbal tell that he discovered. Carey and Preston played again, this time with Carey wearing earplugs, and the lady broke the former World Champion within 10 minutes.

Carey’s exploits in the cash game arena saw her take on the best players in the game – almost always male – and do more than just hold her own. While she doesn’t have the tournament exploits that make one known to the public, her longevity in an era when women weren’t readily accepted at the tables should earn her a spot in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

Nani Dollison – From the late 90s through the early Aughts, Dollison was one of the most talented female players in the world of poker. She won back-to-back Ladies’ Championships (2000/2001), when the tournament was a split Limit Hold’em/Seven Card Stud event. Only Susie Isaacs can say that (Isaacs won when it was a Seven Card Stud event) and Isaacs was an original inductee in 2008. She is also tied, with Enright and Vanessa Selbst (who arguably will be a first-ballot Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee when she is eligible in two years) for most bracelets by a female player.

Shirley Rosario – Not exactly a name that jumps at people but, if you’ve been around the game any length of time, you know who Rosario is. Known for her cash game skills and her prop playing at casinos in California, Rosario has advocated for women in poker since before the “boom” of the early Aughts. She has also been a successful tournament professional, earning nearly $500,000 in her career.

Karina Jett – Although she hasn’t been as active in the poker world in the past few years (choosing to spend most of her time raising her and husband Chip’s children), Jett has been able to amass a stellar tournament poker record. She’s been to the WSOP Ladies’ Championship final table three times, coming up fourth in back to back years (2003 and 2004) and the runner up to Marsha Wolak in 2011. Jett was also a part of some of poker’s best “made for television” programming, including Poker After Dark and Poker Night in America.

Annie Duke – Had to throw one controversial choice in.

Duke is, without a doubt, one of the most polarizing subjects in the world of poker. Being polarizing is not a ban on being honored for your play and your contributions to poker, however, and Duke has covered those bases in spades. Her victory in the 2004 WSOP Tournament of Champions – in which she tortured Phil Hellmuth before seizing the $2 million winner take all victory – and her WSOP bracelet won in Omaha High/Low in the same year might be enough to establish her playing credentials. Add in her 2010 victory in the National Heads-up Poker Championship, defeating Huck Seed and Erik Seidel on her way to the title, and those credentials are solidified.

While nowadays she tries to paint herself as a “business consultant” (Duke hasn’t cashed in a poker tournament since 2010), Duke’s work as an advocate for online poker (she once was a member of the Poker Players Alliance Board of Directors) and in what might have been good ideas that went under (the Epic Poker League) indicate someone who was, at the least, trying to make the game better. And who can say that every idea they’ve ever had have worked out to its fullest?

The Women in Poker Hall of Fame nominations are open until March 15 at the dedicated site on the Hall’s webpage. One vote can be registered per IP address and, once the votes have been screened, will be presented to the Jury Panel for consideration. Soon afterwards, the new inductees for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame will be announced.

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