PokerStars SCOOP 2021

Handicapping The Ten 2021 Poker Hall Of Fame Finalists

After a one-year hiatus, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) has returned to The Rio, and thus far, despite lingering COVID concerns and restrictions, the series has gone off without a hitch.

Part of the festivities every year is the Poker Hall of Fame nominations and induction ceremony.

The list of ten finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2021 was recently announced, and it includes a disparate list of poker players and contributors:

  1. Eli Elezra
  2. Antonio Esfandiari
  3. Chris Ferguson
  4. Layne Flack (First-Time Finalist)
  5. Ted Forrest
  6. Bertrand ”ElkY” Grospellier (First-Time Finalist)
  7. Mike Matusow
  8. Michael Mizrachi (First-Time Finalist)
  9. Matt Savage
  10. Isai Scheinberg

After a decade of inducting two nominees every year, the PHoF has reverted to installing just a single nominee, and according to a press release, “the finalists will be considered by 32 living members who will cast votes to determine this year’s Hall-of-Famer.”

The criteria for induction are as follows:

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40-years-old at the time of nomination
  • Played for high-stakes
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
  • Stood the test of time
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Enshrinement Date and Festivities

According to the press release, “The enshrinement ceremony is now held on Wednesday, Nov. 17 in concert with the final table of the Main Event and the Hall of Fame Bounty tournament at Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.” The 2021 inductee will be announced during the Hall of Fame Bounty tournament.

All living Poker Hall of Fame members will receive a free entry into the $1,979 No-Limit Hold’em tournament – the buy-in was established in honor of the Hall of Fame’s founding year.

The tournament is open to anyone, and “each participating Hall of Famer will have a bounty corresponding to the year they were inducted into poker’s most exclusive club.”

Who Will Get Inducted in 2021?

In recent years the Poker Hall of Fame has inducted players that bridged the pre-boom and poker boom eras.

Additionally, only two (or three to four, depending on how you classify Linda Johnson and Chris Moneymaker) contributors have been inducted in the last ten years, Jack McClelland and Mori Eskandani.

And finally, both of the above trends are likely to continue with the media no longer voting, and the decision solely in the hands of living HOF members.

With that in mind, I’ve divided the nominees into four categories.

The Longshots

Eli Elezra

Elezra certainly fits most of the criteria, but a spotty record in high-stakes cash games and some accusations of unpaid debts will likely keep Eli on the sidelines.

Mike Matusow

Matusow has an impressive tournament resume, but “The Mouth” is primarily considered (fairly or not) as more of a personality than a best-of-the-best type player.

Chris Ferguson

Ferguson’s resume is certainly Hall of Fame worthy, but he’s still carrying around a lot of Full Tilt Poker demons.

The Contributors

Matt Savage

Savage is a perennial finalist, but he’s never been able to secure enough votes for induction. It’s hard to see that changing with only one inductee per year.

Isai Scheinberg

Scheinberg is a polarizing choice. For some, Isai is the most important figure in poker of the last 20 years. For others, he’s someone who became incredibly rich skirting US laws. I’m not sure the living Hall of Fame members care about the latter, but their penchant for picking players, not contributors, could still keep Isai on the sidelines.  

The Frontrunners

Layne Flack

Flack passed away in July, a tragedy that helped push his name and his pre-poker boom resume into the Hall of Fame conversation.

Ted Forrest

It’s hard to find a chink in Ted Forrest’s poker resume. From tournaments to high-stakes games, Forrest has done it all. If he’s not inducted this year, it’s only a matter of time.

The Young Guns

The three young guns that made the finalist list are all known for their tournament accomplishments, which might hurt them in the eyes of the old-school Hall of Famers who prize high-stakes cash game success. Still, all three fall into the “when not if” category.

  • Antonio Esfandiari
  • Bertrand ”ElkY” Grospellier
  • Michael Mizrachi

The Poker Hall of Fame

The list of Poker Hall Of Famers currently stands at 59. Below is the complete list, along with the year of induction.

  • Red Winn ‘79
  • Sid Wyman ‘79
  • Edmond Hoyle ‘79
  • Felton McCorquodale ‘79
  • Nick Dandolos ‘79
  • Johnny Moss ‘79
  • James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok ‘79
  • T “Blondie” Forbes ‘80
  • Bill Boyd ‘81
  • Tom Abdo ‘82
  • Joe Bernstein ‘83
  • Murph Harrold ‘84
  • Red Hodges ‘85
  • Henry Green ‘86
  • Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson ‘87
  • Jack “Treetop” Straus ‘88
  • Doyle Brunson ‘88
  • Fred “Sarge” Ferris ‘89
  • Benny Binion ‘90
  • David “Chip” Reese ‘91
  • Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston ‘92
  • Jack Keller ‘93
  • Julius Oral Popwell ‘96
  • Roger Moore ‘97
  • Stu “The Kid” Ungar ‘01
  • Lyle Berman ‘02
  • Johnny Chan ‘02
  • Bobby Baldwin ‘03
  • Berry Johnston ‘04
  • Crandell Addington ‘05
  • Jack Binion ‘05
  • TJ Cloutier ‘06
  • Billy Baxter ‘06
  • Phil Hellmuth ‘07
  • Barbara Enright ‘07
  • Duane “Dewey” Tomko ‘08
  • Henry Orenstein ‘08
  • Mike Sexton ‘09
  • Dan Harrington ‘10
  • Erik Seidel ‘10
  • Barry Greenstein ‘11
  • Linda Johnson ‘11
  • Eric Drache ‘12
  • Brian “Sailor” Roberts ‘12
  • Scotty Nguyen ‘13
  • Tom McEvoy ‘13
  • Daniel Negreanu ‘14
  • Jack McClelland ‘14
  • John Juanda ‘15
  • Jennifer Harman ‘15
  • Carlos Mortensen ‘16
  • Todd Brunson ‘16
  • David “Devilfish” Ulliott ‘17
  • Phil Ivey ‘17
  • John Hennigan ‘18
  • Mori Eskandani ‘18
  • Chris Moneymaker ‘19
  • David Oppenheim ‘19
  • Huck Seed ‘20

Similar Posts