The Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) grows to 56 members with the induction of its two newest honorees, John Hennigan and Mori Eskandani.
The Poker Hall of Fame has announced its two newest members, honoring pro player John Hennigan and noted TV producer Mori Eskandani as its latest inductees. The twin honors bring the Poker Hall of Fame’s membership to 56. Both men received word of their enshrinement during the ongoing World Series of Poker main event.
“Johnny World” grabs accolade
Both Hennigan and Eskandani hearken back to poker’s “old school” days, even as they continue accumulating achievements in current times. Hennigan, widely known as “Johnny World,” is a feared mixed-games player who rarely plays poker’s most popular variant, hold’em, yet he’s built a massive career résumé nonetheless. Just weeks ago, he won his fifth career WSOP gold bracelet in one of that series’ most prestigious events, the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. world championship. He also continues to lead in the WSOP’s annual Player of the Year race, designed to honor the year’s best cumulative, series-long performance.
Hennigan has won more than $8.1 million in live poker tourneys around the globe, roughly two-thirds of that at the WSOP, in addition to millions more in cash games. He had never before made the Poker Hall of Fame’s list of ten finalists, but his great recent performances surely helped his candidacy.
“I’m very excited by this news and grateful that it came at a point in my career when I was mature enough to be honored by it, because I am,” said Hennigan upon learning the news. “Thanks to everyone who voted for me!”
Eskandani behind prominent poker shows
The PHOF Class of 2018’s other enshrinee, Mori Eskandani, boasts a rich poker career as well. Eskandani was once a high-stakes cash game player himself, with several prominent tournament showings to his credit. But “Uncle Mori” was also among those who first recognized poker’s entertainment value and he took his skills over to the production side of televised poker, serving an integral role in poker’s boom by serving up professionally styled productions.
Mori and his company, Poker PROductions, created many of the most popular televised poker shows emanating from the United States over the past 20 years. That list of successful programs, many of which have been enjoyed globally, includes the World Series of Poker (in conjunction with ESPN), the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and several other once-prominent shows.
Eskandani had made the finalists list twice previously before being honored this year.
The enshrinement of Hennigan and Eskandani comes after a multi-step election process. First, in the late spring, the PHOF opens its doors to the poker world, offering several weeks of public nominations. From there, the top nomination recipients are vetted by the PHOF’s Governing Council to assure each potential finalist meets the PHOF’s eligibility requirements, including a “test of time” barrier requiring any potential enshrinee to reach age 40 before being considered.
From there, the ten official finalists are voted upon by a slowly changing Election Committee. That group consists of the 28 living members of the PHOF, plus a “blue ribbon” media panel which this year included 18 industry veterans. The induction of Hennigan and Eskandani swells the PHOF’s lifetime ranks to 56.
The Poker Hall of Fame itself was founded in 1979 as a poker-promoting marketing effort by Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. The PHOF was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) in 2004, along with the rights to the World Series of Poker. Since that acquisition, the PHOF has been streamlined and standardized to serve as an annual celebration of poker’s most accomplished individuals.